Park County, Colorado
Pike National Forest
South Park Ranger District
View this on the Colorado Trailheads Map
Forest Service Roads: 204, 212
Trail Type: Straight Through
Nearby Towns: Tarryall, Jefferson
Nearby Trails: Goose Creek Road, La Salle Pass, Turner Gulch Road
Season: Year Round
Trail Length: 6.6 miles
Elevation: 8,298 to 8,997 feet
This trail is tucked between the Tarryall Mountains and Puma Hills, south of Jefferson on Highway 285 and far northwest of Woodland Park. It's not a particularly long trail and there are no other trails nearby, so it's not frequented by many offroaders. Still, it's a fun trail on the difficult side of moderate worth checking out. If you go in the spring you may also find some mud holes on the trail.
You start up Forest Road 212 and you will immediately notice that there are a lot of spur roads all over the place -- most of them illegally made. Stay on the main, well-travelled trail throughout your stay in the area as the vegetation is trying to grow back after the abuse. The main trail comes to a fork in the road right at the base of the Tarryall Mountains just after you start uphill. Take either fork up, then the other one on your way back so you can see both (the right side is a bit more challenging, however).
You'll go over the top of this first hill, then over some minor rocky areas. You'll come to another major fork when Forest Road 204 intersects with Forest Road 212. Keep following 212 and you'll come back to this intersection later.
Soon you will find some fun challenges, including a pile of rocks that are situated in a way to really flex your suspension. They are steep and fun to climb, but there is a bypass right next to them. There are many lines through these rocks and you could easily get high centered if you don't have a lot of clearance.
There is a tippy section of flat rock that can be taken many ways though there is no easy bypass. There is a very easy way through it and a more difficult way. The difficult way will put you high up on the rocks where it is tippy, so if there is snow it could get slippery.
You'll go through a clearing and see a house in the distance ahead of you. Follow the trail to the left to turn away from the house. Just past this turn you'll see an optional rock slab on the right of the main trail marked with tire marks going up it. This rock slab has been the source for a few roll overs for people because some lines up it can get very tippy and can easily cause wheel stands. Be sure of your line before you go up it or you could end up with tires in the air.
After the rock slab there is a big dirt hill to descend with a few different lines to get to the bottom. The line on the left is probably the easiest.
Once you reach Tarryall Creek and the camping areas at the bottom of the big hill, turn around to go back (this is a great place for lunch in the shade). It looks like there are further trails but it is all erosion run off so do not travel on these. This would be a great place to camp where you wouldn't see many other people, if any. Also note that it may look like a trail continues on the other side of the creek there is actually no trail over there. The legal trail ends here at the creek and you do not go into the creek at all.
Turn around to go back to the intersection where you can take Forest Road 204. You will find a few rocks to climb here and there, most of which have bypasses immediately next to them. When you get to a tight curve surrounded by rocks, however, there is no bypass. There is plenty of room to turn around and go back out if you don't think you can fit your vehicle through without body damage.
This curve is very narrow. You have to go between two large rocks at a slight angle, then turn right down a hill of more rocks to weave through. The rocks aren't particularly large but they are on dirt so traction could be an issue. This hill is very challenging in snow and ice, and any mid-sized or full-sized vehicle will have to be careful.
Soon after this rock hill you will come to Box Canyon, marked with a large parking area and a sign. This is a great place to hike and explore, though vehicles are not allowed. Forest Road 204-B is here, a short diversion over another hill that soon comes to a dead end.
Follow 204 further and you will eventually come back out on County Road 77, the pavement you were on before you got to the trailhead. Turn right to go back out to Jefferson and Highway 285.
This is a great winter trail, though it is a little short to be a popular summer trail unless you are camping or enjoying Tarryall Reservoir.
Information last updated on May 11th, 2008.
- January 18, 2014: ran by Matt K.
- November 23, 2011: ran by Bill S., Mike S. and Roger
- February 6, 2010: ran by Bill S., Gary, Matt K. and Walt
- March 7, 2009: ran by Bill S., Jeffrey, Matt K., Mike S., Roger, Ryan S., Steve B. and Walt
- June 28, 2008: ran by Matt K., Steve B. and Terry
- January 21, 2006: ran by Don, Eric B., Gary, Michael, Mike S. and Roger
- November 8, 2003: ran by Gary and Monica
(NAD83 Continental U.S. datum)
From Denver, the distance to the trailhead is the same through Jefferson or through Woodland Park. The Jefferson route is more scenic, however. Take Highway 285 to just on the other side of Kenosha Pass, then turn left on County Road 77 at Jefferson (the last gas station is here). Take this to just past the small town of Tarryall (no services, the speed limit goes down to 25 mph) where Forest Road 212 turns off the pavement to your left. The trail starts here.
Meet in Conifer on Highway 285 at the Bradley gas station.