We all know Colorado is known as the Rocky Mountain and Centennial State with its mile-high setting which makes it an ideal place for Jeepers and other four-wheelers to enjoy and explore the great outdoors. With breathtaking scenery around almost every corner, we’ve compiled a list of the top trails classified from easy to extreme to discover some of the best parts of this amazing area.
Alpine Tunnel Trail
Buena Vista near Nathrop, 5.6 miles, duration of about 30 minutes with a rating of Easy
We’ll tease the more hardcore crew with an uber easier trek along the Alpine Tunnel Trail that’s often recognized for it’s proximity to the famous ghost town of St. Elmo and location inside the San Isabel National Forest. This trail is littered with wild flowers and leads through some of the most historic and beautiful parts of Colorado. Jeepers will discover turn-of-the-century railroads and abandoned mines as part of the stunning scenery throughout the journey.
Black Bear Pass Trail
Telluride, 8.5 miles, duration of about 3 hours with a rating of Difficult-Severe
The Black Bear Pass Trail is a moderately traveled route through Telluride, one of the most well-known and brutal parts of the state. It’s used not only by four-wheelers but also, hikers, mountain bikers and even dogs are welcome on this scenic and challenging trek that’s best endured from July through October. The initial climb is a cake walk and is also carpeted with wild flowers through high mountain meadows and waterfalls cascading from the Alpine snowmelts before reaching the 12,840 foot summit.
Blanca Peak Trail
Blanca, 8.3 miles, duration of about 5 hours with a rating of Difficult-Severe
Those who have conquered the Blanca Peak Trail have traveled up to the 4th largest peak in Colorado and they say spectacular views are the rule rather than the exception. Blanca is touted as one of the most dangerous and extreme roads in the state testing both drivers and their vehicles to their limits traversing through the shadows of three peaks over 14,000 feet high. The trail is so rough and tough, it’s claimed the lives of several unfortunate, ill-prepared individuals. It’s recommended only experienced drivers of Jeeps with 33″ or larger tires, a winch and at least one differential locker attempt to conquer this trail.
Florissant, 6.5 miles, duration of about 2 hours with a rating of Difficult
Let’s take it down a notch when thinking about going over the China Wall although the trail is still really high at over 9,000 feet in elevation. It’s a well-maintained and highly-monitored trail so be sure to have your proper registration (yes, you may need your stinkin’ papers) with you. The drive to the trailhead and the pathway itself boasts scenic views. In the middle of the trek, drivers and riders will find a large campground near a bubbling brook (okay it’s a creek) making it an excellent place to spend the weekend.
Holy Cross City Trail
Minturn, 4 miles, duration of about 6 hours with a rating of Severe-Extreme
Know as a brutal breaking point for many drivers and their rigs, the Holy Cross City Trail is underbritches-staining yet breathtaking trek through the Sawatch Range on the side of the 14,000 foot high Mount of the Holy Cross. Stock vehicles don’t have a prayer in even attempting this trail and is another path where 33″+ wheels, locking differentials, various recovery and repair equipment is required. Holy Cross is best known for two of its biggest challenges, French Creek and Cleveland Rock, and is always crowded on the weekends with 4x4s waiting in line for their turn to conquer these major obstacles.
Laporte, 10.7 miles, duration of about 3 hours with a rating of Difficult-Severe
Don’t let the name of Kelly Flats fool you as there’s not much level happening on this trail. Still another rugged road in Colorado known to be as challenging as it is scenic just west of the narrows in the Poudre Canyon. Two distinct obstacles include Heart Attack Hill and The Chutes and although there are bypasses available for both, diverting away from the first challenge, drivers will face Aneurysm Hill which is still difficult to overcome. It’s recommended putting your transfer case into low range to enjoy this popular and perilous trail.
North & Middle Forks of the Swan River
Breckinridge, 13.3 miles, duration of about 4 hours with a rating of Moderate-Difficult
Not to be confused with “Way down upon the Swanee ribber,” the North and Middle Forks of the Swan River are not “far, far” from either the capital city of Denver or the Holy Cross City Trail as mentioned previously. The 4WD path follows the river up the valley through a picturesque pine forest up to the high alpine tundra between Whale and Wise Mountains. Atop the high saddle, there are truly breaktaking views of the Brekenridge Ski Resort to the west and the iconic Red Cone decent to the east.
Red Cone Trail
Grant, 6.5 miles, duration of about 2 hours with a rating of Difficult-Severe
Speaking of the Red Cone Trail, here’s another example of where you’ll need a well-equipped, high-clearance vehicle with plenty of safety gear and low range is required. The upper portion of the trail traverses the ridge around 12,000 feet in elevation and views for miles. You’ll also find stunning views of the divide while tackling rocky obstacles at the beginning and a steep, one-way, unforgettable decent at the end.
NOTE: These trails are impassable during winter months due to a sheet-pile of snow falling in these higher elevations. Be sure to check on seasonal conditions prior to partaking in these outdoor playgrounds. Basically, four-wheelers facing these Colorado treks are looking at late Spring to early Autumn for these adventuring on these trails.
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