Trails

Pitkin Colorado, A Gorgeous Mountain Town

The Historic mining town of Pitkin is nestled in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and is a hub for outdoor adventure and sports. As the first incorporated town on the Western Slope, Pitkin welcomes you to enjoy its picturesque scenery, fresh air and all its natural splendor. At an elevation of 9,242 feet, twenty eight miles Northeast of Gunnison on Quartz Creek, you will find Pitkin Colorado. Pitkin is located on the old D&SP, (Denver & South Park) Railroad line in Gunnison County. The scenic Quartz Creek winds its way through this peaceful town that rests in an Alpine meadow.

pitkin-mountain-town

Alpine Tunnel

The Alpine Tunnel Trail is the most well-known trail in the area following the D&SP between St. Elmo and Gunnison. The Alpine Tunnel remains one of the most brilliant engineering feats in railroad history. Construction on the tunnel began in the 1880’s from both ends of the planned tunnel. Eventually the two teams met each other in the middle of the tunnel, the engineering and digging were so precise that when the two teams met, they were only off by 6 inches. You can still find railway ties along the trail, which has a gentle grade that’s suitable for passenger cars. Informational displays along the trail share even more history about the trail and tunnel. The buildings and the original turntable  have been reconstructed at the top of the old train tracks. Note that the trail, with an elevation of 11,523 feet, is high-altitude and subject to heavy snowfall. To avoid the snow, the best time to go is from June through October.

The Miner’s Run

The Miner’s Run Loop is one of the most popular off-road vehicle trails in Central Colorado. The trail runs from Pitkin, over Hancock Pass (Continental Divide) to the ghost town of Hancock and follows along the old railroad grade down to St. Elmo, where you just have to feed the local chipmunks. Next you go over Tincup Pass (Continental Divide) and down to Tincup, which is known for its segregated cemetery.

 (segregated by religion)

From Tincup, you have a choice of either the easy route over Cumberland Pass, or the very scenic route over Napoleon Pass back down to Pitkin. This route is about 45 miles in length and you can add another 20 or so miles by going up to the Alpine Tunnel and up to one of Charles Wells “Most difficult trails” to the Pomeroy Lakes. The trip up to Pomeroy Lake will take you past the Mary Murphy Mine, and some of the remaining trolley towers, and the cable used to get the ore down to the railroad.

Tomichi Pass

From Pitkin you head over Waunita Pass.  There are 2 ways of getting to the top of this pass.  The easy way, which is car friendly is the county road.  The other way is the trail up thru Powderhouse Gulch that brings you out at the top of Waunita Pass. Now there are two choices going down.  Either the easy county road way or the other way down the Wiley Gulch Trail, which takes you by the HUGE pine tree that survived being cut on, like someone was going to fell it. The Wiley Gulch trail will reconnect to the Waunita Pass road. Next you will go over Black Sage Pass and down to the town of White Pine. From here you go up the trail to Tomichi and the fun trail begins at the Tomichi Cemetery. Up you go to the top of Tomichi Pass. From the top of Tomichi Pass you have a bird’s eye view of Hancock Pass that is just across the valley from you.  Down you go from here, along a very narrow shelf trail, with remains of an old jeep below you. You will come to the old Tomichi Mine and then down a little more you will connect to the Hancock Pass Trail, and down to the Alpine Tunnel Road and on down to Pitkin.  Maps are available in Quartz Creek Lodge for this high adventure trip. 

Fairview Peak

You can jeep or ATV up quite a long way to Fairview Peak, but the last bit has to be hiked.  When you get to the top, there is a little rock hut, that was built in the early 1900’s by the first ever Forest Ranger. This building was, and is, the highest fire lookout of all time, it was only used for about 4 years.  The reason for this brief history of usage is that due to frequent lightning strikes to the building, people refused to stay in the rock hut of Fairview Peak.

American Flag Mountain

American Flag Mountain is in Gunnison County and is known for the American Flags that are posted on the mountain’s summit.  Miners started putting flags on the summit in 1890 and ever since then summiteers have replaced the flags annually with new American flags and sometimes even Colorado flags.  This mountain is ATV friendly and at the top you can see for miles. Spend a few hours taking in the majestic view.  This can be done in a pretty easy day from Pitkin. The round trip is about 110 miles.  

Schofield Pass, The Devil's Punchbowl and Lead King Basin

The Devil’s Punch Bowl is known as one of the most intimidating ATV/4×4 trails in the country. The drive is scary, but the views are breathtaking with waterfalls that flow into a swirling crystal clear pool. The pool, is the Punch Bowl and you’ve got to go through hell to get there. Wear your seatbelt! The end of the trail leads to Crystal Mill, the most photographed site in the state of Colorado. The still standing mill house rests on jutting rocks next to a roaring waterfall.

Marble, Colorado

Located in Gunnison County, Marble Colorado is  known for the Yule Marble Quarry. The quality of the marble from this quarry is so great, it has been used for the Lincoln Memorial, The Tomb of the Unknowns, and many civil buildings in New York City and San Francisco. Its high quality stone is now being exported to Europe and Asia. The quarry is cut into a steep mountain-side at an elevation of 9,500 ft. The town has a Marble Sculpting Symposium with uninterrupted demonstrations during the day. Opportunities for classes are available to artists and those interested in marble sculpting. As a side trip on the way back, be sure and take the Lead King Basin route. This trip is best done at the end of July when all of the wildflowers are in full bloom.  

Map

Directions

directions

As you travel down Hwy 50, at the little town of Parlin (MM 169) turn onto paved CR 76 and travel 16 miles up the valley to Pitkin.

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