T-33A Plane Crash
Boulder County, Colorado
Roosevelt National Forest
Boulder Ranger District
View this on the Colorado Trailheads Map
Forest Service Road: 203.1
Trail Type: Out and Back
Nearby Towns: Ward, Estes Park, Nederland
Nearby Trails: Middle St. Vrain, Bunce School Road, Ironclads, Park Creek
Trail Length: 1.8 miles
Elevation: 8,879 to 9,361 feet
Named Obstacles: Dead-End Hill
This is a special trail because you can take a 4x4 vehicle to within 250 yards of the site of a plane crash. You must park and walk on a footpath to the crash site, and if you want to see all of it there is some hiking involved on a steep hill.
Two people were killed in the crash that happened on Jule 27th, 1965. It was a T-33A jet trainer, and the pilot was a very experienced Air Force Major named Jay Currie. First Lieutenant Donald Darby was riding along as a technical observer. They were flying from Buckley Field to California, and Major Currie was viewing some property he owned in Colorado, flying at 13,000 feet.
The reasons for the crash are not known. He was told to go to 17,000 feet by Air Traffic Control, but then contact was lost. It is known that he was flying slowly, there were no technical issues with the plane, and neither of the pilots attempted to eject from the plane. There were thunderstorms reported in the area, which may have contributed to the crash.
As with all historical plane crash sites, you must leave everything as you found it. Do not move or remove anything. Be respectful -- people died here.
To get to the crash site, you must take part of Bunce School Road and part of Park Creek to the trailhead. It starts very near the end of Bunce School Road near Camp Dick, so this is the quickest way in. If you start on this end, the Park Creek trailhead is just after the switchbacks. You will turn left at just under a mile from the Bunce School Road end, at Forest Service sign 202. The first intersection you come to is the T-33A Plane Crash trailhead. Turn left to start the trail on forest service road 203.
The initial climb is steady and there are rocky sections. There is an optional hill called Dead-End Hill that starts as a fairly well-traveled road on the left. This hill is more difficult than the rest of the trail to the plane crash, and it suddenly dead-ends at the top. It's a fun climb, though. If you stop at the big meadow on the way to the end of the dead end you are treated with one of the only views from all of the trails in the area.
Continue on 203 to get to the plane crash. There are quite a few rocky sections along the way and some of them are quite challenging. One section may only be possible for very modified vehicles or brave ATV riders. Some obstacles will need a spotter.
When you get to the hiking trail to the crash site you will see that the trail you are on is starting to get narrow. The hiking trail is well-defined and starts to the right of the 4x4 trail. If you continue on a few yards the 4x4 trail ends.
There is enough parking here for a few vehicles, and it is a good place for lunch.
Hike a bit down the trail and soon you will see some of the plane parts to the right of the hiking trail. Most of the plane is in this area, and most of it is to the right of the trail.
If you hike to the bottom of this steep hill you can find an engine. There are large and small parts of the plane throughout this area.
Return the way you came in.
Information last updated on July 3rd, 2011.
- July 2nd, 2011: ran by Andrew S., Gary, Hoa, Katie, Mike S. and Monica
- June 18th, 2007: ran by Mike S. and Walt
- October 14th, 2006: ran by Cheryl, Dave B., Don, Micheal and Monica
(NAD83 Continental U.S. datum)
|Hiking Trail Start
From Boulder, take Canyon Boulevard west to Nederland. Take Route 72 north from Nederland 16.2 miles to Peaceful Valley. Follow signs to Camp Dick on the left. Just past the first pit toilet you will see Forest Service Road 115 on the right, a dirt road that starts uphill. This is the end of Bunce School Road. The Park Creek trailhead is just under a mile from this point. Take Park Creek a short distance to find the T-33A Plane Crash trailhead on the right.
Meet at the Starbucks at 3033 Arapahoe Avenue in Boulder. This is also immediately next to a gas station, Moe's Bagels and King Soopers.