Near Central City, Colorado

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    On Saturday September 30th, I took the HoboJeepers and guests up the less known and undiscovered trail I will officially call "Miner's Gulch" just North-West of Central City.  Being so close to Denver, It's well worth a visit.  I found this trail while I led some trips at All-4-Fun this year, and ran it 3 times.  Fugowie Brian Hoag will agree, this is a little gem of a trail with alot of technical rocks and real good-time jeepin'.  Please, let's take care of it and not over-run the trail, or it will be like another overcrowded Spring Creek.  The HoboJeepers are discussing adopting Miner's Gulch to keep it maintained and open.  The trail is short…but sweet (you can incorporate it into a loop around Kingston Peak for a full day).

We air down and disconnect for a great day of wheelin'...

    Plans for the day called for running from the Pickle Gulch campground and over to near Alice, including the Pickle Gulch/Miner's Gulch/ & Yankee Hill Trails. This particular Saturday morning started out a little cool and foggy as we all met up at 8:30am just west of HWY 93 and HWY 6 in Golden, Colorado.  Hobos for the day included Ken "Toolman" Kordes ("rejuvenated" 61 Ford), Chris "Colonel" Potter (CJ), Chris and Debbie Vieth (YJ), David Parrett and girlfriend Jennifer (YJ), and myself (CJ) with my jeepin' sidekick Molly.  Guests jeepers along to "ride the trails" included: Bobbette Mathews and kids (TJ), Don Wilson of MHJC Patrol 11 (TJ), Chris Hanson and Gina Souza (TJ), Steve "White Moose" Gilbert and friend (TJ), Don Derleth and friends (XY), and Jimmy Stoddard and friend (CJ).

    We all paraded up the scenic Clear Creek Canyon on Hwy 6 with our lights on, and turned off HWY 119 and got in line with the gamblers heading up to Central City (the site of All-4-Fun 2000).  Just north of town a few miles, we took a left and aired down at the Pickle Gulch FS group campground (site of Aspencades 99').  The Pickle Gulch Trail is a fun little jeep trail with a constant climb up the gulch, with rocks and tight trees along the way. Up a ways is a fun rock outcrop in the trail that does have a go-around.  Everyone made it up, some with a second try.

The approach to the Pickle Gulch's bigger then this photo shows.


    Thru groves of leaning white-barked aspens stripped of their leaves with the coming winter, the trail winds around Oregon Hill to a saddle clearing with views of the Front Range mountains.  We took a very short break here, as the cold North winds from an approaching cold front were just too much to bear (insert wind-chill-factor here).


Somehow this photo doesn't capture the

cold howling wind as we stopped at this saddle

looking of West at the cold Front Range...


    Heading down past the ghost town of Apex, we headed up past Elk Park to the north entrance to the Miner's Gulch trailhead.  I had called a Arapahoe National Forest Ranger the week before, and asked about access down the valley, they had said it was "ok", as long as we stayed on FS 705.1 Rd.  The FS 705.1 sign is only visible down at the Miner's Gulch trailhead.  There is a wire strung across two posts that can be removed, please replace the wire behind you.


The easy road up from Apex towards Kingston Peak as we head West

up to the next saddle and the gate, Elk Park is on the right...


    Once past the wire gate, you can tell not very many people drive the road, as nature has washed out some sections, and tracks are uncommon.  Following the trail down past the "no trespassing" signs on old mining claims and cabins, we reached the North Fork of Clear Creek and FS 709.1 rd (Miner's Gulch).


Anxious jeepers at the trailhead...ready for some fun on Miner's!


Looking back at the trailhead, which starts with a crossing of North Clear Creek...


From the same spot as above, this is to your view

looking left up the start of the trail, the boulders and rocks await!!

    I was so sure everyone would have a good--no great time on this short but sweet trail, that I would reimburse anyone "one gallon of gas" if they were disappointed (read on for the result).  Of note: There is an entrance to the trailhead from the east off the Apex road, but it is private land, so please respect that and do not attempt it (in or out).

    After a quick break at the trailhead, we strapped in and got ready for some real homegrown jeepin'! The Miner's Gulch Trail starts right off with a series of large rocks, and works it's way up the creek bed up and over a steep embankment.  Everyone took his or her time (just like chewing a nice bite of lobster tail), and I again enjoyed the run too, even though was my 5th time!

The trail follows wet slick-rocks as you follow the creek for a ways...



Hobo Chris Vieth tackles one of the bigger boulders on the trail...


Chris "Colonel" Potter's 86 CJ crawls up the rocky trail...

    From Bobbette in her yellow stock TJ, to the "Colonel's" modified CJ all made it thru all smiles, it seemed nobody needed any extra gas. Just around the next tree there is another good-sized rock field to climb up, this one is similar to parts of the upper Spring Creek.  There are some easier routes to take, and harder lines for the rockhounds.

Jimmy's CJ up and over more rocks...

this is much steeper the the photo shows!


Typical of Miner's Gulch...tight and rocky!!


A photo from an All-4-Fun trip in August

coming down past another fun boulder field...


A shakey photo (to many rocks!) of another trip

going up the same boulder field...

    The "Toolman" must of found one of those rocks that jump up and bite you, because his tie rod was bent and his steering was not so controlling anymore.  Ken managed to straighten out his tie rod with some team-help on the trail, just enough to keep moving on (it's beefed up now!).

Hobo Ken's tie rod was bent back to 

some-what normal with a jack and a come-along...


    I wasn't back there, but I heard from a good source that David Parrett had gotten hung-up on a rock, but skillfully worked thru the rock field, as did everyone.  Up the trail was an opening perfect for lunch, as we endured some cold winds.  After a short windy lunch break, we headed up the gulch and the rest of the trail on up to the saddle.  Even this section has many "mini" rock gardens to it, as you climb steeply thru a tight-tree-lined section on up to the saddle.


 David Parrett's YJ easing up thru the boulders...


A windy lunch stop about halfway thru the trail...


     From here, a road network takes you to Yankee Hill to the West, around Kingston Peak to the north, or back to Central City to the East.  We opted to go West on FS 378 to climb up Yankee Hill.  Retracing part of the 2nd Annual Hobo Run in July, we reached the base of Yankee Hill. This is a technical hill climb, as the far right side contains deeper and deeper moguls the more people climb it.  Loose rocks are everywhere, and you don't want to stop your momentum here!


I lead the group up the loose steep hill...

This photo was taken by Ken at the bottom.


At the same time, I took a photo looking down towards Ken

as the "Colonel" negotiates the deep moguls of Yankee Hill...


Nice pic of most us coming down off Yankee Hill at the same time!


Myself (Red CJ) and Bobbette (Yellow TJ)

playing on a small mogul sidehill...


    A nice view of the area is the reward, as we headed down and over to a mine site just above Alice.  We followed Chris Vieth down a trail south of Yankee Hill that meets up at the big switchback on the paved Fall River Road just below Alice.  Once together, we all headed down for some free air at the gas station just north of the Texaco at the Mt. Evans exit in Idaho Springs.  A fun day of "riding the trails, just like riding the rails" with good friends…& That's what it's all about!!


Chris Hanson's TJ gets flexed on an inviting rock...


A perfect ending--as we "ride the trail" thru some

golden aspen groves at the end of the day..."Jeep,Jeep"!!

 Bill Hallinan HoboJeepers


Here are some other Miner's Gulch/Yankee Hill Trip Reports:

Miner's Gulch/Kingston Peak Trails-HoboJeepers

Kingston Peak/Yankee Hill/Miner's Gulch-HoboJeepers


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