Chaffee County, Colorado
Gunnison National Forest, San Isabel National Forest
Gunnison Ranger District, Salida Ranger District
View this on the Colorado Trailheads Map
Forest Service Roads: 267, 267.3D
Trail Type: Straight Through
Nearby Towns: Tincup, St. Elmo, Buena Vista
Nearby Trails: Iron Chest, Mount Antero, Boulder Mountain, Grizzly Lake, Hancock Pass, Pomeroy Lakes, Cottonwood Pass, Carbonate Hill
Trail Length: 12.4 miles
Elevation: 10,014 to 12,160 feet
Connecting the tiny towns of Tincup and St. Elmo, this is a great way to get from Chaffee County to Gunnison County and back. It's not a particularly rocky or difficult road, though it will give some stock SUVs a fun challenge.
If you start from the St. Elmo side be sure to plan for some time spent in the scenic town first. Then you follow Chalk Creek west through trees and meadows.
You'll climb Sawmill Hill before reaching the pass itself. There is lots of room for parking and taking in the sights. There is a big sign at the top. The top of the pass is beautiful and offers some hiking. Stay on the trail and do not travel on the illegal routes made by people in the past.
Head down from the pass and you are going north. There is one, small optional section along "Old Tincup," a road that was once the main road but has since been replaced by the current trail. You can still take this optional route, but note it is more difficult than the regular trail. You'll see Old Tincup leave the main trail and then reconnect with it on your way down the hill.
There are a few rocks you can either choose to avoid or aim for, depending on how hard you want to make this trail. An optional rocky section close to the pass can provide some additional challenges.
You'll follow Willow Creek on this side of the pass. You will also pass by Mirror Lake and a pit toilet. Stop here if you have time.
The trail is quite a bit easier as you descend, and then you're in the tiny town of Tincup where the trail ends on Washington Street. Tincup is a remote town, and you have a few options to continue your journey.
- Return the way you came, back to St. Elmo.
- Head north on Grand Avenue as it changes to forest service road 765, the Cumberland Pass trail. This is the easiest way to get to Taylor Park Reservoir and Cottonwood Pass, an easy trail that takes you back to Buena Vista.
- Take Grand Avenue south to the Carbonate Hill trail, a more difficult route to Taylor Park Reservoir.
- Take Grand Avenue south, the Cumberland Pass trail, to many connections with other trails and the town of Pitkin.
Information last updated on October 6th, 2013.
- September 27th, 2013: ran by Julie, Monica, Roger and Walt
- August 21st, 2010: ran by Mark U., Matt K. and Terry
- July 26th, 2009: ran by Gary, Jeffrey, Matt K., Mike S. and Walt
- September 5th, 2005: ran by Bob R., Ladd, Micheal and Monica
From Denver, take Highway 285 through Johnson Village and Nathrop. Turn right on County Road 162 to pass many other trailheads. The town of St. Elmo is at the end, where you follow signs to Tincup Pass.
Meet in Conifer on Highway 285 at the Loaf N' Jug gas station. Those coming from Colorado Springs will want to meet at Johnsons Village instead and not come that far north.