Friday, July 1, 2011

ROAD TRIP - Off-road - California and Picayune Gulch

Silverton Pamorama from the Kendall Mtn Road
Time for some off-roading!  Me and the boys will make a short loop up to Animas Forks on County Road 2 and then into the loop on County Road 9 that goes into California Gulch, by California Pass then down Picayune Gulch back to County Road 2.

This short trip can be done by any 4x4 vehicle *car, truck, UTV or ATV" and will give you a good mix of the scenery, elevation and the more mild road conditions in the Alpine Loop area.

Full route map from an back to Silverton, Co.
Detailed loop map 

You can download this route via Google HERE.

From Silverton, take County Highway 2 north. You will pass the old Mayflower Mill which is open for tours on an irregular basis and also the road to the Old 100 Gold Mine which has regular tours well worth your time.

Mayflower Gold Mill
Old Hundred Gold Mine Tour

You will pass the very small town of Howardsville and the Gold Mill in that locale which may soon be back in operation. Farther up north past Middelton is the old townsite of Eureka, Co. This was the next biggest town in San Juan County for many years of it's heyday. Very little is left of the old towns or the one huge, Sunnyside mill. The locales are now a popular, dry camping areas.

Eureka, CO @

Campers at Middleton
The Eureka Townsite from the north
Past Eureka, the road narrows and the scenery continues. One incredible and commonly photographed scene is this cabin across the canyon, complete with waterfall.

A great summer house?
Once in Animas Forks, we are also at the junction of County Road 5 which is a leg of th Alpine Loop over to Lake City, Co. We'll cover that in a future post.

Animas Forks is one of the best preserved, old mining camps and ghost towns on the planet. There is ample parking and some interpretive info at the site.  There is much data on the Internet about this attraction as follows:

Animas Forks - Wikipedia
Animas Forks @ Mountains Rule Blog

We proceeded up County Road 9 to California and Placier Gulch and then into Picayune Gulch. Along the way are more very well preserved old mining structures and mills. Soon you will be way above the timberline!

California Gulch @
Picayune Gulch @

An easy climb up to California Pass
Sound Democrat Mill in Placier Gulch

More on the: Pacier Gulch & Sound Democrat Mill

Leaving Placier Gulch, you will traverse a few easy switchbacks. Only one required a 2 point turn in my Big Dodge Pickup. From there the road is easy passing a remote cabin before it takes a fairly steep descent back to County Road 2.

Plenty of snow in the last week of June.
An old Skidoo abandoned along the road
Steep descent! Normally the uphill vehicles have the
right of way. In this case there was no valid place
for me to backup to so the UTV's made the yield.

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