Tincup Pass (12,154′), Sawatch Range

Tincup Pass (12,154′), Sawatch Range

Tincup Pass 12,154' - part of the Continental Divide Trail (CDT)

Tincup Pass (12,154′), Sawatch Range

Tincup Pass gets its name from prospector Jim Taylor, who in 1860 brought his gold strike back to camp in his tin cup. The pass was used to move supplies between St. Elmo and the town of Tin Cup starting in 1881, when a wagon road was built.

The views and hiking opportunities along the road are abundant. There are 13,000′ peaks that can be easily accessed from 267 (Tin Cup Peak, PT 13,050, and Fitzpatrick Peak). In addition, the prominent Continental Divide Trail and Colorado Trail cross Tin Cup Pass Rd (267) about 4 miles from St. Elmo.

The Sawatch Mountain Range is home to fifteen 14,000′ peaks, such as Huron Peak, La Plata Peak, Missouri Mountain, Mt Antero, and the highest peak in the Rocky Mountains, Mt Elbert.

  • Destination: Tincup Pass
  • Rating: Difficult (moderate except for 2 small areas on the south side)
  • 4×4 Road: 267
  • Round trip: 24 miles / 38.6 km (St Elmo to the town of Tin Cup and back)
  • Elevation: 9,961′ – 12,154′ (+2,193′)/ 3,036m – 3,705m (+669m)County:

County: Gunnison
Agency: U.S. Forest Service
Nat’l Forest: San Isabel & Gunnison

Elevation Map (select to enlarge)

GPS Route with Elevation

Video Tour

Trail Directions

Starting from the south side of the pass at St. Elmo, the 4WD road climbs west toward Tincup Pass following the North Fork of Chalk Creek.

After 4 miles the road climbs to the north toward Tincup Pass.

Another mile in brings you to treeline with a good view of the remainder of the route to the pass. The switchbacks ahead are very narrow.

Once up the ledge road and switchbacks you will be at Tincup Pass, about 6 miles from St. Elmo.

Heading down the north side of the pass, the road is rough for the first mile while it winds through the tundra.

The road gradually widens and becomes more maintained.

After crossing a creek you will drive on a section of road made up of large talus along the edge of Mirror Lake. This section is rough so use caution.

Once past the lake the road becomes passable by passenger vehicles.

Trailhead Directions

Mt Antero (14,269′) and Mt White (13,667′), Sawatch Range

Mt Antero (14,269′) and Mt White (13,667′), Sawatch Range

At 13,800" looking at the summit of Mt Antero

Mt Antero (14,269′) and Mt White (13,667′), Sawatch Range

Mt Antero is one of only a handful of 14,000′ peaks that has a road that travels to within a short distance of the summit.  The road up the mountain is difficult, rough and rocky, requiring four-wheel drive, eventually topping out at 13,800′. From the end of the road at point 13,800 it’s a 1/2 mile and 470′ scramble to the summit.

In 1881, a Salida man by the name of Nelson Wanemaker discovered gems high on Mt Antero. His discovery was publicized a few years later, and the mountain became a famous collecting area for aquamarine, phenacite, fluorite, topaz, and smoky quartz crystals. It has the highest concentration of these minerals anywhere in the US. With findings far above timberline, this is the highest known gem field in the lower 48.

The Sawatch Mountain Range is home to fourteen other 14,000′ peaks, such as Huron Peak, La Plata Peak, Missouri Mountain, and the highest peak in the Rocky Mountains, Mt Elbert.

Destination: Mt Antero to 13,800′
Rating: Difficult
4×4 Road: 277, 278, 278A
Round trip: 18.8 miles / 30.3 km (Mt Antero and Mt White)
Elevation: 9,400′ – 13,800′ (+4,400′)/ 2,865m – 4,206m (+1,341m)

GPS Route with Elevation

From the end of the very steep road at 13,800′, it’s a 1/2 mile and 470′ climb to the 14,269′ summit of Mt Antero

Video Tour

Route Directions

Turn onto #277 jeep road (Baldwin Gultch) and drive 3 miles to a road junction at 10,850′. Turn left on the #278 road and cross Baldwin Creek.

Continue another mile to tree line as it climb’s Mt Antero’s west slopes. Stay left on 278A at the next 2 junction’s, reaching 13,200′.

From 13,200′ to 13,800′, the road becomes extremely steep with hairpin
switchbacks. You may want to consider parking here as most vehicles
wont make it. Continue up the steep south side to reach the end of the road, Point 13,800′.

Trailhead Directions

Hallett Peak (12,713′), Front Range

Hallett Peak (12,713′), Front Range

Hallett Peak (12,713')

Hallett Peak (12,713′), Front Range

Hallett Peak, viewed from east Rocky Mountain National Park, is distinctive with it’s slanted square structure towering over the landscape. As you near the summit however, the square melts away and you are left looking at a more traditional mountain silhouette.

Rising along the Continental Divide, Hallett Peak divides Chaos Canyon to the south and Tyndall Gorge to the north.

The route to the summit first traverses the summit of Flattop Mountain on a well maintained trail. The Arapaho Indians called the Flattop Mountain corridor “The Big Trail”.

The trail was formally constructed in 1925, was rehabilitated by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1940, and is currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Destination: Hallett Peak
Trailhead: Bear Lake
Round trip: 10 miles / 16.1 km
Elevation: 9,475′ – 12,713′ (+3,238′)/ 2,888m – 3,875m (+987m)

County: Larimer
Agency: National Park Service
Nat’l Park: Rocky Mountain

Elevation Map (select to enlarge)

GPS Route with Elevation

Video Tour

Trail Directions

From Bear Lake take the well maintained Flattop mountain trail to the summit of Flattop Mountain. No maintained trail reaches Hallett Peak, so cross the saddle above Tyndall Glacier and scramble up steep talus to the summit.

Trailhead Directions

Hurricane Pass (12,730′) and California Pass (12,960′), San Juan Range

Hurricane Pass (12,730′) and California Pass (12,960′), San Juan Range

Extensive snow coverage in early July

Hurricane Pass (12,730′) & California Pass (12,960′), San Juan Range

The National Water and Climate Center reported that the SWE (snow water equivalent) for the San Juan Mountains, including Hurricane Pass and California Pass, in May of 2019 was 728% above normal. It was such a heavy snow year that most of the back country at higher elevations was still buried in July. The heavy amounts of snow also caused a significant number of avalanches in the state. The only option out of Silverton to the Alpine Loop this July was to take SH 100 to Gladstone. Heavy avalanche debris still blocked the route to Animas Forks from Silverton using County Rd. 2.

Heading out of Silverton on SH 110, you pass Gladstone, which sits in a flat meadow where the five forks of Cement Creek meet. The town began in the late 1870’s from the surrounding mines including a sawmill just below the town site. As the mines grew, the sawmill was needed by other mines in the area, so a wagon road was graded up Cement Creek. In 1879 this wagon road went over Hurricane Pass and down Poughkeepsie Gulch as the route from Silverton to Ouray.

oday Poughkeepsie Gulch is generally for high clearance 4×4 vehicles that don’t mind a few road scars. The route today includes Hurricane and California Pass, and eventually leads down to Animas Forks.

The San Juan Mountains offer incredible outdoor beauty, including areas such as American Basin, Mt Sneffels, and Stony Pass.

  • Destination: California Pass
  • Rating: Moderate
  • 4×4 Road: SH 110, CR 10
  • Round trip: 20.6 miles / 33.1 km
  • Elevation: 9,318′ – 12,960′ (+3,642′)/ 2,840m – 3,950m (+1,110m)

County: San Juan
Agency: U.S. Forest Service
Nat’l Forest: San Juan

Elevation Map (select to enlarge)

GPS Route with Elevation

This area is part of the Alpine Loop, a 4X4 lover’s dream. There are countless trails all leading to incredible alpine beauty and history.

Video Tour

Route Directions

Starting from Silverton, exit Highway 550 onto Greene St./Hwy 110

Continue on Hwy 110 through Silverton (1.2 Miles)

Turn left to stay on Hwy 110 (6.4 Miles)

Slight left onto County Rd 10/Hurricane Pass

Trailhead Directions

Lake Helene (10,630′), Front Range

Lake Helene (10,630′), Front Range

Notchtop Mountain towers over the valley

Lake Helene (10,630′), Front Range

There is no signage and you must follow a social trail to get to the lake, but despite it’s obscurity, Lake Helene is a spectacular destination inside Rocky Mountain National Park. The lake is situated at treeline, between Flattop Mountain (12,324′) and Notchtop Mountain (12,129′).

Even lesser known Two Rivers Lake is a short walk from Lake Helene, and also worth the visit while in the alpine valley.

Destination:  Lake Helene
Trailhead: Bear Lake
Round trip: 7.2 miles / 11.6 km
Elevation: 9,475′ -10,630′ (+1,155′)/ 2,888m-3,240m (+352m)

County: Larimer
Agency: National Park
Nat’l Park: Rocky Mountain

Elevation Map (select to enlarge)

GPS Route with Elevation

Video Tour

Trail Directions

Follow the Bear Lake trail for less than 1/2 mile to the Odessa Lake Trail Junction and take the trail to the right. The trail climbs above Bear Lake to the Flattop Mountain trail junction. Continue towards Odessa Lake, climbing through forests and meadows. After approximately 3.5 miles from the trailhead you will see social trails on your left for Lake Helene. The lake is partially concealed from the trail and spurs are fairly easy to miss. If you make a sharp hairpin turn north (right) and begin descending, you’ve passed it.

Two Rivers Lake is near treeline just downstream of Lake Helene. A thick forest and boulder field stand between the main trail and lake, making it easier to walk east from Lake Helene through the forest and meadows.

Trailhead Directions

Garden of the Gods (6,400′)          Front Range

Garden of the Gods (6,400′) Front Range

North and South Gateway Rock

Garden of the Gods (6,400′), Front Range

 Garden of the Gods is a geologically unique 480 acre park, having one of the most complete and complex exposures of earth’s history anywhere in the country. It is popular for hiking, technical rock climbing, biking, and horseback riding. There are more than 15 miles of trails, with a 1.1-mile trail running through the heart of the park, that is paved and wheelchair accessible.

The main trail in the park, Perkins Central Garden Trail, is a paved, wheelchair-accessible 1.1-mile trail. It travels through the heart of the park’s largest and most scenic red rocks! The trail begins at the North Parking lot.

Dedication Plaque reads “Garden of the Gods is given to The City of Colorado Springs in 1909 by the children of Charles Elliott Perkins in fulfillment of his wish that it be kept forever free to the public.”

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