The National Water and Climate Center reported that the SWE (snow water equivalent) for the San Juan Mountains in May of 2019 was 728% above normal. It was such a heavy snow year that most of the back country at higher elevations is still buried in July. The heavy amounts of snow also caused a significant number of avalanches in the state, making it even more difficult to hike and 4X4. The only option in Silverton was to take SH 100 to Gladstone to get to the Alpine Loop. Usually Corkscrew Gulch or the ghost town of Animas Forks are the most popular access points, but deep snow and heavy avalanche debris still blocked those routes. The road to Hurricane and California Pass are rated as moderate, with the only real hazard being the drop-offs.
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.
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)
– 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