Four Wheeling in Clear Creek County

4-Wheeling in Colorado is about high mountain passes, historic mining sites, scenic back-country lakes, and fantastic vistas. No mud bogs or slow going rock crawling in this region of pine and aspen forests, 14,000-foot mountains, alpine meadows, and crystal-clear streams. To visit Colorado for “wheeling” is to experience world class trail riding. Many of the trails will cover quite some mileage before hitting a difficult obstacle, and when the climb takes you above the tree line the views are absolutely fabulous.

One of the key elements in the Rockies is the altitudes, and the climbs to get there. Horsepower, low gearing, and a ‘good working order’ on your trail rig will go a long way. Many of the best riding areas are the summer range for deer, elk, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, and mountain goats. Occasionally mountain lion and black bear are spotted in the back-country. The mountain wilderness also includes many abandoned mountain homesteads and historic ghost towns, remnants of the original Colorado settlers, who came to the region to mine gold and silver. Some of the routes where first used by miners to reach their mining camps.

For those that don’t have a four-wheel drive, local vendors offer off road tours into some of the more popular areas. Or simply rent a four-wheel drive vehicle and come on up! Please keep in mind rules of road and remember that vehicles coming uphill have the right of way.

Please note – ATV’s are allowed on Forest Service roads but are not allowed on any County road. You must ferry off road vehicles to trail. Visit the Idaho Springs Heritage Museum and USFS Visitor Center at 2060 Miner Street in Idaho Springs to pick up a FREE Motor Vehicle Use (MVU) Map!

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Experience Clear Creek

If you would like to explore more of Clear Creek’s back-country on wheels, then four wheel driving is the way to go. Our four wheel drive roads are monitored by the County and the Clear Creek Ranger District and provide a glimpse of the areas scenic beauty as well as its legendary history. Please note, Off road four-wheel driving is not permitted, so STAY THE TRAIL and please respect the rights of property owners. Click here to view the Motor Vehicle Use Map before setting out…

Local Tour Companies

Mile-Hi Rafting and ATV Tours

3627 Alvarado #291
Lawson, CO 80436
(303) 567-0717

Trails

A. Kingston Peak (FR 353)
Distance: 6 Miles – Access: From I-70, take exit 238 onto Fall River Road. Stay on Fall River until you get to the town of Alice. Turn left onto Alice Road. Stay on this road for about 1 mile and turn right onto Harris Drive. From Harris, turn left onto Glory Hole Road, then the first right onto Nebraska, then left onto Hillside, and finally right onto Hilltop. Go up Hilltop to where Kingston Peak Road starts. This road continues all the way to Tolland on Rollins Pass Road in the Boulder Ranger District. This road takes you up and over flats near James Peak wilderness and above St. Mary’s Glacier.

B. Yankee Hill (FR175)
Distance: 10 Miles – Access: From I-70, take exit 238 onto Fall River Road. Follow the road 1.5 miles and turn right onto York Gulch Road. Follow York until it turns into FR 175 and go another 8 miles to Yankee Hill. Return via the same route or continue 2 more miles on FR 175 to Cumberland Gulch. This will also return you to Fall River Road. Note: There are many designated Forest Roads in this area to explore, however a large amount of land in the area is private, please refer to MVU map.

C. Apex (Mining Community – Gilpin County)
Distance: 7 Miles – Access: From I-70, take exit 244 onto US 6. Go through two tunnels and turn left at the stoplight onto Hwy 119. Follow the highway past Blackhawk’s casinos turning left at the second light to Central City. Take this road (Hwy 279) straight through Central City to what is known as Cemetery Corner. At this 3-way intersection, veer right onto County Rd 3, follow County Rd 3 for 3 miles and turn left on Apex Valley Rd and proceed 5 miles to the small town of Apex. The road continues and meets Rollins Pass Road. Highlights: Apex is an old mining town with rich history and old cemeteries. A few residents still live there with private property all around. High alpine willow trees struggle to grow in the bogs and alpine wildflowers grow in the meadows.

D. Barbour Forks (FR 194)
Distance: 1.7 Miles – Access: From I-70, take exit 240 and turn north into Idaho Springs. Turn right (east) on Miner Street and take right (south) on Soda Creek Road. Go under I-70 and past the Indian Springs Resort. Follow this road for about 3 miles to a large parking area. FR 194 starts at this point, climbing up the valley and through meadows. Note: This road is closed in mid December through mid-June for elk calving season.

E. Devil’s Canyon (FR 246)
Distance: 2.5 Miles – Access: From I-70, take exit 240 and head south on Hwy 103 for 10 miles. 1/4 mile past Ponder Point Picnic ground, turn left for Devil’s Canyon. Highlights: There are a number of different roads with varying degrees of difficulty.  At the top of several ridges, views of Mt. Evans, Devil’s Canyon, and Clear Creek can be seen. Note: This road is closed in mid December through mid-June for elk calving season.

F. Ute and Cascade Loop
Distance: 12 Miles – Access: From I-70, take exit 240 and head south on Hwy 103 about 5 miles. Turn right onto Ute Creek Road (Co. 118) and drive 2.2 miles turning right at a large boulder onto FR 712.2A. Travel another 1.7 miles until you meet up with a large intersection. Turn left onto FR 712.1 heading south/west. Look for and turn left onto FR 712.2B at another junction, then take FR 710.1 which becomes Cascade Creek Rd (Co. 116) turn left and it will take you back to Hwy 103. Turn left again to head towards I-70. Highlights: Along the way you will pass small mountain creeks with old mining establishments tucked away in the woods. Please note ATVs are allowed on Forest Service roads but are not allowed on County roads.

G. Trail Creek (County 136)
Distance: 10 Miles – Access: From I-70, take exit 240 and turn north into Idaho Springs. At the second stop sign, turn left onto Colorado Blvd. Take this road west out of town and under I-70 onto Stanley Road. Take Stanley Road west to Trail Creek Road (Co. 136) and turn left. This road will intersect Spring Gulch Road (Co. 130) and FR 712.1. You can return to Hwy 103 via Spring Gulch or take FR 712 to Georgetown (see Saxon Mountain). Highlights: Freeland Ghost Town and Lamertine Mine.

H. Saxon Mountain via Georgetown
Distance: 7 Miles – Access: From I-70, take exit 228 to Georgetown. Proceed straight ahead to Main Street. Turn left and drive about 1 mile and turn right onto Saxon Mountain Road. Follow this up a steep rocky road for 7 miles to reach the top of Saxon Mountain. This road will continue on to both Ute, Cascade and Trail Creek Roads. Highlights: On the way up this mountain face, there is a great view of Georgetown and surrounding mountains.

I. Leavenworth/Pavillion Point – Argentine Railroad Grade Trail  (FR 248)
Distance: 8 Miles – Access: From I-70, take exit 228 to Georgetown and follow the signs to Guanella Pass Road. Drive up Guanella Pass for about 2.5 miles. Look for a brown sign on a sharp left switchback that reads, “Waldorf.” This road is called Leavenworth or FR 248.1; it’s extremely rocky and steep in the beginning but levels out as it follows the old Argentine Central Railroad. Highlights: The town of Waldorf was a mining and milling camp around the turn of the century. When ore stopped coming in, the town died. Above Waldorf is the Santiago Mine reached by forest roads heading north. These mines are privately owned, so please respect the owner’s property.

J. Jones Pass (FR 144)
Distance: 3.3 Miles – Access: From I-70, take exit 232 onto US 40 and proceed west past Empire. Turn left at the sign for Henderson Mine/Jones Pass just past the tiny town of Berthoud Falls. Just before entering the Henderson Mine’s guardhouse, veer right onto Jones Pass Road, FR 144. Take this road up and over the pass. There is a gate where the road ends and a hiking trail begins, often only open in Aug/Sept. Highlights: This road goes over the Continental Divide with wildflowers and camping spots along the way. Note: Jones Pass is covered with snowdrifts nearly year round and has no outlet.

K. Bill Moore Lake/N. Empire Loop (FR 171.2,183)
Distance: 5 Miles – Access: From I-70, take exit 232 onto US 40 and proceed west to Empire. At the center of town, turn right onto North Empire Rd. This is the only paved road going north out of town. Drive along North Empire Creek, FR 171.1, to the top of the ridge and follow it to the north. Continue along the east side of the ridge on FR 171.1. Turn left at each of the three consecutive junctions until you are on FR 183.1. At the end of road is a parking area. Bill Moore Lake is located just about one hundred yards past the parking area, accessible only by foot. Highlights: Between Bill Moore Lake and the Continental Divide there are two more small lakes.

L. Fall River Reservoir (FR 174)
Distance: 5 Miles – Access: From I-70, take exit 238 onto Fall River Road. After 6.5 miles, turn left onto Rainbow Road just below the second switchback. Stay on this road for three miles to Fall River Reservoir. Highlights: Take a left at the sign for Chinn’s Lake to access two more beautiful lakes. The road ends near Chinn’s Lake but the other lakes are accessible by foot. The Continental Divide rises up behind the lakes.

M. Loch Lohmond (FR 701)
Distance: 2 Miles – Access: From I-70, take exit 238 onto Fall River Road. Stay on Fall River until you get to the town of Alice. Turn left onto Alice Road. Continue straight past the old schoolhouse. A quarter mile past the Glory Hole Mine, turn right at the sign for FR 701/Stuart Road and two miles further is the lake. Highlights: Above Loch Lohmond are 4 more small lakes that hikers may access. The Continental Divide Trail follows this road before heading north towards James Peak.