The SAN JUAN'S 2000
Engineer Pass/Animas Forks/
California Gulch/Corkscrew Gulch Trails
From Capitol City to Silverton, Colorado

One of the many views we had throughout the day...

   On Sunday morning July 2nd, the energy was high in camp in anticipation of the day, as most everyone except myself had not been to the San Juan's.  We broke camp, and headed west up Henson Creek past a mine on an easy dusty and rocky road that became a little rougher the higher you went, and on up to the scenic view on 12,800' Engineer Pass.  Waterfalls and 1890's mine sites dotted the hillsides up the canyon.  This is the gateway to the San Juan's, especially at "Oh Point", where the full view of the mountains can be seen.  Once above timberline going up Engineer Pass, you stay up high in the tundra all day till you drop down into Corkscrew Gulch.  

Snowmelt all Summer long provides for cascading waterfalls...

The road winds up the Henson Creek drainage

 and past some 1890's Mills... 


We make it up to Engineer Pass, and we're ready for more...


12,800' Engineer Pass...Welcome to the San Juan's!


"I think I smell a marmot...let me out!!"

    We shared the viewpoint with about 30-40 Nissan Exterras out on a run, as they had a "jamboree-like" get-together in Ouray.  A 4Wheel-Drive and Sport Utility Magazine reporter was riding with them, but approached me and she told me she had a CJ7, and would like to cover us, but work was work. From "Oh Point", the high meadows are as green as golf courses in July, and full of flowers.  You can see most all of the trail's canyons, and a definite must see stop on your San Juan trail list.

A rainbow of Nissan Exterras chug off to the East off "Oh Point" towards Engineer Pass...


The Hobos at "Oh Point", this is a "Rocky Mountain High"!!



This is what it's all about...come see it for yourself.

   Off and down Engineer Pass, we headed towards the ghost town of Animas Forks.  Still kept up by many organizations, it's a fine example of the hard living a miner had to deal with all year round, not just in the winter.  Up California Gulch lies the 1890 Frisco Mill. It's an engineering feat on how they hauled the milled lumber up from Durango, and put it together by numbers, and it still stands today.  We had lunch at the Frisco Mill.  If you head South you will reach Silverton via a county road.  Go West as we did up California Gulch, and enjoy the scenery.

The 1890's Animas Forks ghost town below looking West,

with the Frisco Mill on the upper right...

Animas Fork's "Duncan House"

 and nearby mines on the right make for a great setting...


View from the living room of the famous "Duncan House" looking South...

    Rain, what rain? Yep, what's a jeep run in the San Juan's without a little water on the windshield, especially if the wiper blades are bad again. Yep, that's what we had up the California Gulch as we made our way thru Hurricane Pass (which is the top of the Poughkeepsie Gulch Trail), and it quickly passed before we made our way up the start of the Corkscrew Gulch Trail. 

Nearing the top of California Gulch in the rain...


Another spot with spectacular views of Red Mountain at the top of Corkscrew Gulch...

    Near Red Mountain 1, 2, and 3, which are so called for the iron staining draped over the mountains, we stopped for another view break. Looking off to the west one can almost make out Black Bear Pass, and the viewpoint off 13,000'+Imogene Pass that are planned trails for the next day.

Red Mountain #2 and Imogene Pass off in the distance-"What a View!"


Molly seems to find the views second, behind finding out what's making that chirping noise...

     At the break, and further investigation (hood up of course), seems Pete's YJ has been making some contact noises on the trail. Come to find out, the right engine mount was not functioning properly and the engine was literally resting on the frame. With less room, the distributor cap, and the oil filter took some denting.  So, we headed on down Corkscrew Gulch with an engine mount absent on one side.

      We headed down Corkscrew (yes, lots of switchbacks), and found a campsite near the Ophir Pass entrance. Being it was Chris Potter's B-Day; we all headed down to play tourists and have dinner in the modern-day ghost town of Silverton (home of ALL-4-FUN 98').  Silverton has that ole' mining town feel, with some modern day tourists mixed in by train and car.  It's a great home base to run the many San Juan trails.  Monday, it's up and over Black Bear and (13,114') Imogene Passes.....oh yeaaa!

Bill Hallinan HoboJeepers


Here are some other San Juan Sites:

San Juan Mountain Jeeping Routes by Ed and Julie:

Lake City, Colorado-A short History:

Engineer Pass Trail Report by Jerry Clark:

Black Bear Pass Trail by Bob Norton:

Black Bear Pass Trail photos:

Black Bear Pass Trail description:

Imogene Pass Trail by Flatlander:

32nd Annual All-4Fun in Silverton by Jeff Fox:

32nd Annual All-4Fun in Silverton by Flatlander:


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