The San Juan Mountains of Southwestern Colorado are some of the most beautiful mountains we’ve ever explored. With towns like Telluride, Ouray, Lake City, Creede and Silverton, one could spend a large portion of their life just researching the mining history of these historic locations.
This area also includes many well known off-road trails such as Black Bear Pass, Imogene Pass, Poughkeepsie Gulch, Ophir Pass and many, many, others.
There is a reason that Ouray, Colorado is nicknamed the “Switzerland of America”, as the San Juan Mountains contain 11 peaks above 13,000 feet in elevation!
The fall colors throughout Colorado bring sightseers into the mountains where the aspens turn bright gold against the dark green backdrop of pine trees. This year the drought in Colorado has played a factor in the timing of seeing the fall colors with many of the areas trees turning early in the season, but mid-September for our group turned out to be a perfect time.
A Little Wheeling
We rounded up a few rigs for day trip across the San Juan’s, leaving Ouray at about 10 am, driving up Mineral Creek into Poughkeepsie Gulch, taking the Mineral Creek/Engineer Pass turnoff, then following the Poughkeepsie Gulch Trail up to California Pass down into Animas Forks.
From Animas Forks, we headed up Cinnamon Pass over into Lake City. Just into Lake City we took the Engineer Pass trail back over to the starting point, up above Ouray.
Helpful GPS and Apps
We have used a few GPS devices over the years and many more apps. My go to app these days is ViewRanger running on my iPhone or iPad; and the device we’ve been using is the Magellan TRX7.
We won’t to go into a review of these tools here, but we do want to give a shout out to the folks at ViewRanger. We’re really liking this app. Each time we use it we find more features and they even have great helpful video on their website. Their 3-D flyovers, topographic imagery, Skyline View (very handy in the mountains!) and mapping and tracking is very good. The route that we took is also uploaded and saved into ViewRanger for others to follow, along with many other routes, trips and tracks to explore! Here are a few screen shots from the app.
Fall Colors, 60+ Miles of Trail and 8+ Hours of Amazing Scenery…
For more information on the San Juan Mountains and the history of the area: