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.
- Road: 267
- Round trip: 24 miles / 38.6 km (St Elmo to Tin Cup and back)
- Elevation: 9,961′ – 12,154′ / 3,036 m – 3,705 m
- County: Gunnison
- Agency: U.S. Forest Service
- Nat’l Forest: San Isabel & Gunnison
GPS Route with Elevation
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.
In September 2020 we had an amazing month’s long adventure in the Colorado Sawatch & San Juan Mountains. We live at sea level on the Outer Banks NC and although we are life long hikers, had never hiked at Colorado altitudes. After covid cancelled out EBC trip, we reached out to Mike and he worked with us to tailor an astounding trip with a mixture of challenging OHV and mountain summits. We were able to safely acclimatize and make the most of every day, sunrise to sunset. Our adventures included Owl Creek Pass, Silver Jack, Yankee Boy Basin, Blue Lakes, Cinnamon Pass, American Basin, Handies Peak, Mount Antero, Hagerman Tunnel Trail, Tin Cup Pass, The Continental Divide, and Lake Ann. These ranges offer the most peaceful beautiful country, the views just don’t stop. Thank you so much Mike for inspiring us, providing the perfect plan, and sharing your knowledge of these beautiful mountain ranges. We’re planning to return again this fall. Take good care.