Added by Amy Kesic
This adventure offers fabulous scenery, including 14ers Grays Peak and Torreys Peak. Explore an old mine site and enjoy wildflowers in the summer and leaf-peeping in the fall.
September is famous in Colorado for clear, deep blue skies, sublimely perfect temperatures, and gold-digging – of the leaf variety, that is. On September 9, wildflower season was recently past and the best of the leaves were yet to come, but it was the perfect, clear and sunny day to check out the high elevations on Guanella Pass from the saddle of an ATV.
Leavenworth Creek Road, like most 4x4 roads in Colorado, is an old mining road. Located just off the second overlook station on the Guanella Pass ascent from Georgetown, there is space enough to unload your ATV/dirt bike/mountain bike, but you’ll have to drive your trailer either up or down Guanella Pass to an open parking area, and walk back. This road is also popular with high-clearance off-roading vehicles like Jeeps and 4Runners.
The first half-mile of the road starts out pretty sketchy, with deep ruts, large, loose stones, and hairpin turns. After gaining some elevation quickly, though, the road smooths out quite a bit for the next 5+ miles to the mine site. It’s relatively straight with few pitfalls. It will still be fairly rough for an SUV, but it’s easy riding on an ATV.
From the beginning of the road to the mine is about 6.2 miles and 2100’ elevation gain. The mine is located right at tree line and with a large, flat “parking” area, which is a good place to take a break and explore the old ruins.
To get to Argentine Pass, which is in the saddle between Argentine Peak and Mount Edwards, continue on the road veering to the left. It is another 2.1 miles and 1555’ elevation gain to the “summit,” or end, of the road. Elevation at the end point is about 13,207'. This section is much narrower and more stony than the previous 5 miles, but still navigable in an off-road vehicle. Other than a couple of places at the turns, there is nowhere for vehicles to pass one another.
Where the road ends, it intersects a hiking trail that leads from Horseshoe Gulch to the summit of Grays Peak, which at 14,278’ is the tallest peak in the Front Range. You can also see Torreys Peak (14,275’) connected by a saddle to the right of Grays, and right in front of you is Ruby Mountain, a pretty 13er. Peeking between Ruby Mountain and Grays Peak is Grizzly Peak, topping out at 13,428’.
It seems that miners of old had a real knack for finding some of the most beautiful areas deep in the mountains of Colorado. Despite its being too early for leaf-peeping in early September, we were rewarded with an incredibly colorful tundra—and a handful of golden leaves. The green, bronze and gold of the willow underbrush, the red ground cover, and the streaky, reddish mountains wove a rich tapestry of color and texture that rivals any other season.
(Note: The photos included are completely unedited, which demonstrates just how vivid the colors are.)
- Layered clothing (it's cold at the top)
- Emergency repair kit
- Day pack with at least 2 liters of water and plenty of snacks
- Layered clothing appropriate for the season
- Sturdy hiking shoes or boots
- Trekking poles (optional)
- Bike repair kit
- First aid supplies
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More
Backpacking, Chillin, Hiking, Mountain Biking, Photography, Skiing, Snowshoeing
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Added by Amy Kesic
A mom who decided to get fit a few years ago, I took up running and hiking to keep myself moving. Since moving to the Front Range foothills a year ago, I've spent my free time discovering all the trails I possibly can. I'm in love with Colorado and the Rocky Mountains; I also like to take pictures, and I share my adventures here on The Outbound and on Instagram at @run2themountains.Follow
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