Ouray County, Colorado
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Nearby Towns: Ouray, Lake City
Nearby Trails: Poughkeepsie Gulch, California Gulch
Trail Length: 6.92 miles
Elevation: 8,872 to 12,094 feet
This is one of the trails that takes you to the "Alpine Loop" of Engineer Pass and Cinnamon Pass, as well as many other trails including Poughkeepsie Gulch. It connects the pavement of Highway 550 that runs through Ouray and Silverton to the network of trails in the immediate area. It is popular yet more difficult than many people anticipate.
It starts just south of Ouray on the left side of the road as you are winding your way along the shelf. There is plenty of room to air down at the trailhead, and the trail starts out rocky right away. It gets easier after a mile or two, though. You can pick your lines through most of it and make it as easy or as difficult as you would like.
You follow the Uncompahgre River for quite awhile as you climb. There are lots of old mines and shacks, and the first one is the Mickey Breene Mine. It is large and well-preserved, with plenty of space to pull over and check it out as well as the river below.
Poughkeepsie Gulch is the first trail to intersect with Mineral Creek, marked with a sign pointing to the trailhead on the right. The Mineral Creek trail continues to the left, uphill on a switchback. Though the majority of Poughkeepsie Gulch is easier than Mineral Creek, a single obstacle on Poughkeepsie Gulch keeps its rating much higher.
Des Ouray Mine is the next mine at about 4 miles into the trail. On your right there is a turn off for Mineral Point and the San Juan Chief Mill (you can see it off to the right). It is a little bit more difficult but you can reach the mill without any difficulty. It is worth the extra trip as it is very scenic. There are lots of trails to explore behind the mill as well.
The trail ends at the intersection with Engineer Pass. Turn left to do this trail, or turn right to go the short distance to the ghost town of Animas Forks and the California Gulch and Cinnamon Pass trails. Note that these other trails are a bit easier than Mineral Creek.
Information last updated on September 7th, 2008.
From Ouray, take Highway 550 south 3.7 miles. The trail starts next to a large sign on the left of the road at a large dirt area.
Meet at the Hot Springs Pool parking lot on Main Street in Ouray.