Schofield Pass

Marble, Colorado (Gunnison County)

Last Updated: 08/09/2019
5 /5 ( 7 reviews )
Information
Nearby Trails
Status: Open
Typically Open: 05/21 - 11/22
Difficulty: 4-4
(MODERATE )
Length: 4.5 miles
Highest Elevation: 10669 feet
Duration: About 1 hour 30 minutes
Shape of Trail: Straight Through
Best Direction to Travel: East
Nearest Town: Marble
Nearest Town w/ Services: Crested Butte
Official Road Name: 317
Management Agency: White River National Forest
District: Aspen-Sopris Ranger District
Distance:
Showing 0 trails within 2 miles

Highlights

Highlight: Schofield Pass

Schofield Pass is one of Colorado's most notable four-wheel drive roads. Situated between Crested Butte and Marble, Schofield Pass Road features granite mountain peaks, expansive meadows, dense forests, wildlife, wildflowers, and the ice-cold Crystal River. It connects numerous other popular roads and trails (Paradise Divide, Lead King Basin, and the Crystal City Trail), not to mention the historic mountain towns and their unique attractions. Make a point to include Schofield Pass among your must-see summer four-wheeling destinations.

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Weather

7 day forecast for Schofield Pass

Route Information

Advanced Rating System (BETA)

Recommended Vehicle:
Stock SUV with High Clearance and 4 Low
Concerns:

Technical Rating: 4-4
(MODERATE )

Typically, more rock or undulated road surface. Potential rocks and/or tree stumps less than 18" tall and/or vertical ledges less than 18" tall and/or near vertical ledges or waterfalls less than 36" inches. Tire placement becomes more difficult. Can be steep and off-camber.

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Description

Schofield Pass is an iconic 4WD road featuring rock, water crossings, and the infamous shelf road segment through Crystal Canyon known as the Devil's Punchbowl. From the southeastern trailhead (intersection of Gothic Road and Slate River Road), the road travels through an enormous meadow (Schofield Park) which transitions to pine forest as it descends toward Crystal Canyon. Where the road enters the canyon (aka Devil's Punchbowl) the terrain becomes very rocky with much fewer trees. The road is perched atop a narrow shelf that parallels the Crystal River. Sometimes the road is merely 10 feet above the river, elsewhere it is 300 feet, but always a perilous steep grade. Beyond the Devil's Punchbowl, the road and river diverge. The road re-enters the forest canopy and soon merges with the Crystal City Trail at the eastern trailhead to Lead King Basin, roughly one-half mile east of Crystal. Notes on SEASONAL CLOSURE: Schofield Pass (FS Road 317 in the Gunnison National Forest) closes seasonally February 28th to July 1st each year. The seasonal designated closure is from the village of Gothic north to the boundary with White River National Forest. See the latest published MVUM (2016) online here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd514897.pdf Schofield Pass (FS Road 314 in the White River National Forest) closes November 22nd to May 21st each year from Mile Post 8.1 (at the intersection of FS Road 315, Lead King Basin) south/southeast to Mile Post 17.3 (boundary with Gunnison National Forest). See the latest published MVUM (2017) here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd506000.pdf
Narrow shelf road within the Devil's Punchbowl segment, with few places to allow traffic to pass. Remember: UPHILL has the right of way.

Waypoints

1. Trailhead (0.00 mi)

The southeast trailhead is approximately one-half mile from Schofield Park, where the Slate River Road and Gothic Road intersect.

2. West Maroon Parking Area (0.60 mi)

Continue straight past the parking area.

3. Warning Sign (2.00 mi)

Continue straight past the "Rough Road--4WD Recommended" warning sign. There is a parking area for low clearance vehicles. This sign exists because the road from Crested Butte to this point is suitable for low clearance/2WD vehicles.

4. Water Crossing (2.10 mi)

Proceed though the stream, conditions permitting. Water depth and velocity varies depending upon season and recent precipitation.

5. Rock Obstacle (3.00 mi)

This rock slide obstacle was moved and now is merely a bump in the road. This point is notorious for rock slides so be aware that conditions change frequently.

6. Bridge (3.30 mi)

Continue straight across the bridge. It is narrow and somewhat intimidating, so a ground guide/spotter may increase your confidence.

7. End (4.50 mi)

The Schofield Pass Road ends where it intersects with the Crystal City trail, at the eastern trailhead for Lead King Basin. Turn up the switchback to Lead King Basin, or proceed straight to Crystal and the iconic Crystal Mill.

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 39.016076, -107.047390

Starting Point: Glenwood Springs

Schofield Pass can be driven from either direction--northwest to southeast (uphill) or southeast to northwest (downhill). The northwestern trailhead is one-half mile east of Crystal, at the end of the Crystal City Trail where it intersects with Lead King Basin. The southeastern trailhead is accessed from Crested Butte via either branch of the Paradise Divide (Slate River Road or Gothic Road) where the two intersect with Schofield Pass Road, roughly half a mile southeast of the parking area for the West Maroon hiking trail. From Glenwood Springs, drive south to Carbondale on Highway 82, and then continue south on County Road 133 toward Redstone. Five miles beyond Redstone, turn east on Highway 3 toward Marble. In Marble, at the intersection of Second Street and Silver Street, turn east toward Beaver Lake; this is the Crystal City Trail. Follow it past the Crystal Mill and Crystal to the three way intersection with Lead King Basin and Schofield Pass. From Crested Butte, travel north on Gothic Road (County Road 317) to the intersection with Slate River Road (County Road 734). Proceed straight on CR 317, or turn left on CR 734. These roads form an approximate 25-mile loop (Paradise Divide), converging one-half mile south of Schofield Park. The Schofield Pass Road begins where these intersect (where the brown Forest Service sign indicates "Schofield Park").

Camping

Dispersed
Improved
Designated

Schofield Pass has plenty of dispersed campsites especially on the higher elevation portion in the vicinity of West Maroon Trailhead before dropping into Crystal River Canyon (the Devil's Punchbowl). Unfortunately, there are few on the lower portion (toward Crystal) where much of the land adjacent to the road is private property. Dispersed camping is permitted on Lead King Basin and the northern portion of the Paradise Divide (connecting roads), as well as Daisy Pass Road (nearby road). Designated campsites can be found on the eastern portion of Paradise Divide (Gothic Road), as well as the Oh Be Joyful Campground (fee sites) on the western portion (Slate River Road).

Camping: Schofield Pass

Trail Reviews (12)

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Open all the way through. A crew has shoveled the remaining drifts and drove the entire thing yesterday.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Got a message from a friend who is visiting the CB area; he says Schofield Pass is partially open but impassible, same for Paradise Divide. He says it will be a few weeks yet before they are open to wheeled traffic.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Challenging trail. Fun, but not for the faint of heart. Some times the road is impassable all year long due to the snow bridge covering the road. It is located just past way point 6. Don’t ever try to drive over it! It’s better to turn around and head back to Crested Butte.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
The trail is in good condition and I could not tell where the rock slide was removed. The dirt portions of the trail a VERY dusty I have never seen so much dust kicked up. It has not rained is so long the dust is a force to be reckoned with and the fire danger is VERY high so please be careful out there.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
The Aspen-Sopris Ranger District reports, as of June 26th, that the Schofield Pass Road is open. https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd554376.pdf

Author: Official Crew
Status: Impassable
Offroaded on:
The "Devil's Punchbowl" section of Schofield Pass is impassible due to a new large rock slide in the vicinity of Waypoint 5. This information and a photograph were posted to the Crystal River Jeep Tours Facebook page by "Dave Phillips" on June 13, 2018.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
White River National Forest says travel on Schofield Pass is NOT RECOMMENDED at this time, even though seasonal closures ended as schedule (May 21, 2018). WRNF states further that snow still remains in spots above 9,500' elevation so be aware of runoff and muddy conditions. Snow is probable to remain on the (western) Devil's Punchbowl segment of Schofield Pass due to terrain/the trail being shaded from direct afternoon sunlight. https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd554376.pdf

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Jeep XJ, 4.5" RE lift, 33x10.50 KO2s. Drove in the uphill direction, from Crystal City to Crested Butted. The narrow sections weren't all that bad, however the large rock obstacles proved challenging going uphill in the rain. At one point we were stuck at the 30" rock obstacle, unable to proceed or back down for a second attempt. With some rock stacking and we were able to get up and around it, but not before our nerves were tested. If you do not have lockers, do not attempt the uphill in anything but perfect weather. Storms roll in quick and if you get caught in a down pour on the worst section you may not be as fortunate as we were. Overall a very fun and beautiful drive.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
I ran the northern portion of Schofield Pass from the intersection with Paradise Divide (FS Road 734) down the Devil's Punchbowl to Crystal. It was a Monday evening, and traffic was very light. There were three vehicles in the Maroon Bells hiking trailhead lot, and one vehicle at the yellow warning sign at the north end of Schofield Park. Approaching the Devil's Punchbowl, the trail seems slightly narrower than last year due to the vegetation (willow) growth. I was in a small Isuzu Trooper and still brushed some pin-stripes. I stopped at the top of the Punchbowl to walk down and inspect the rock obstacle (Waypoint 5). It appeared less formidable than last year, and I crossed it without dragging or scraping. I did bump my skid plates a few times down the remainder of the road. A little slower and more attention to line selection would have avoided that, but I was being hasty because dusk was approaching. The only other vehicles I encountered were four ATVs; because my track is so narrow, passing was not a problem.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
I always research a trail before riding it, but none of the material I found mentioned how narrow this is or how many serious accidents have occurred there over the years. However, the rating (5-6) is about right on a dry day, and it's really beautiful with some amazing landmarks as well. Schofield was definitely one of my favorite off-roading experiences.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Ran Schofield Pass from the Crested Butte side down into Crystal City on August 6th. The trail was wet from rain all morning, and the prior day, but luckily it didn't rain on us while we were coming through. There appears to be a rock slide near the top portion of the canyon that I don't remember from a few years back. It didn't necessarily make the trail any more dangerous or difficult for our Jeeps both running 37s, but I could see this slide section being a challenge for a vehicle on smaller tires. The warning signs at the beginning of the trail, are not a joke, and should not be ignored. The trail certainly is narrow and requires 100% of the drivers attention throughout the entire thing. You also have to make sure to make mental notes of areas where your vehicle could pull off in case you run into oncoming traffic. Luckily, we didn't encounter any other traffic that day. Overall, the trail appears to be in good condition, and not really any different or narrower from previous years. It is still dangerous and should only be attempted by experienced drivers.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Though my first car was a ’42 Ford military Jeep, I didn’t ever get it up in the Colorado mountains for some real four wheeling. My parents would take our ’57 Bell Air wagon places that people said were impossible, and Mom was always curious what was down some new road, so the spirit of adventure was born in me at a young age. My childhood friend Bruce had a Jeep with a Chrysler hemi in it that would scoot us down the road far faster than was safe, or legal, but Bruce’s Dad had taught him how to properly drive on back-country mountain roads. Bruce shared his lessons with me, even teaching me to double-clutch. Fast forward twenty-five years to 1995; I had my first Cherokee, and was anxious to take my wife and boys four wheeling. I had driven the stretch from Glenwood Springs through Carbondale, and up McClure Pass, to Paonia for years to visit family, and we would occasionally take an excursion to Marble. One summer we took a Jeep tour from Marble to the north and east going up towards the south side of Snowmass Mountain and then on till we could see the back of Maroon Peak. I decided I had to had to return to the area and started studying Topo maps of the area. I found Schofield Pass that ran on from Crystal City above Marble to Crested Butte. After prepping the ’93 Cherokee for the trip, and making reservations in both Redstone and Crested Butte we headed out to hopefully conquer Schofield Pass. Rated at 5-6, but with occasional closures, even in the summer, we were excited and concerned about possible conditions on the trail. Above Marble and near Crystal City you can see the burned out hulk of a vehicle that rolled down the mountain. Not far along the initially easy trail your will pass the famous Crystal Mill on the south side of the river. Just as everyone else has, we stopped and took numerous pictures. Not far from the mill, we ran into a sign saying “Attention Drivers – Extremely rough road ahead. Vehicle traffic discouraged. 4X4 with experienced drivers and narrow wheel base only.” The scenery of along the Crystal River is beautiful with rivulets running towards the river and tiny waterfalls cascading into space before finding a place to light on their way to the river. Emerald Lake was beautiful, and the ambience of the whole area is serene. At one point we came to a rock ledge with little clearance on either side and an appreciable drop off on the driver’s side. My wife order the boys out and the three of them walked to the end after I successfully navigated the ledge. Well over an hour into our crawl along Schofield, we came to an open spot with nearly a dozen vehicles stopped. A CJ had slid down the mountain side and Bronco was pulling him out with a long tow strap. The strap was too long and the CJ was being pulled backwards at too high a rate of speed. I was certain he was going to roll as the Bronco whipped him around. That bit of excitement over we saw why everyone was stopped. Though mid-August, an avalanche of snow had come down completely covering the road for a hundred yards and no one was attempting it after apparently watching the CJ slide off of it. The slide had sideways slope of probably ten degrees and there was a real risk of sliding off too. I pulled up to the snow slide and my wife asked “what are you doing”? I told her that I was going to check it out, and if I felt I could do it safely, would take the Cherokee across. Once again she and the boys bailed out. I walked the length of the slide, stomping on the crusty snow occasionally to determine how I might get stuck in it, and picking up handfuls seeing how well it packed and how much ice was in it. It was corn snow, was just at the temperature were it was melting, and had a surface crust. After walking back to the Jeep, I had made me determination and decided that trying to power over it would put me at risk, but if I could carry enough speed to just get across while maintaining control, I could do it. Backing up maybe a hundred yards, I smoothly built up to the speed I thought would take me across. With the gas pedal at that magical spot where you’re neither accelerating or decelerating, just keeping up my momentum, I easily traversed the slide then stopped while my family ran up to jump back in. We took off for Crested Butte and were there in no time with the rest of the trail being quite tame. Looking back in my rear view mirror, the jeeps and trucks were all lining up for their shot at the slide. I had conquered Schofield Pass, and it remains one of my favorite four-wheeling memories. In 2005, we went back with a friend in his 2000 Cherokee. After the Crystal Mill we ran into and much larger avalanche with an approach too high to climb. We had to turn around and take the long way to Crested Butte, but witnessed a gathering of small planes who annually fly into and out of remote areas. It was really cool to see them up in the mountains with us.

Questions & Answers (5)

Q: 8/6/19 About to try Paradise Divide and Scholfield Pass tomorrow from Crested Butte but would like an opinion as I know the season has been pushed back this year. Last note this year in late June was that it was impassable. Would welcome any update.
–Gregg Macaluso (08/06/2019)
A: Still impassable from the Crested Butte side. The slide on there end has not been cleared.
–Ryan Boudreau (08/07/2019)
Q: Hey there, Planning to do this in a few days from Marble to CB. I should be fine in my 5th Gen 4runner yeah? 2.5 in lift and fully skidded...
–Ashton Ray Hansen (08/13/2018)
A: Yes, you'll have no problems--just pick good lines going up/down the Devil's Punchbowl section to avoid scrapes on the skids. I've done it in my stock 1988 Isuzu Trooper on 29" All-Terrains (hit the skids a few times, haha).
–Tracy Barker (08/15/2018)
Q: Has the rock that fell at devils punchbowl been cleared from the trail?
–Dean gross (07/14/2018)
A: Yes, please see trip report/trail review below--rock slide was reported clear on June 26th.
–Tracy Barker (08/10/2018)
Q: Hi Tracy, thanks so much for the detailed updates. Do you know if the rockfall has been cleared or is the USFS "open" status really only intended for motos currently? -Thanks in advance.
–Tim (07/02/2018)
A: Tim, yes I called the Carbondale Office today (July 5th) to verify it is open to 4x4 vehicles.
–Tracy Barker (07/05/2018)
Q: Just out of curiosity, if you were to take the road from the Marble side/Lead King road side, could you still get a ways in enough to find some nice dispersed camping?
–Tony T (06/18/2018)
A: The marble side has fewer sites for dispersed camping due to the topography (Valley with a river) and the fact that much of the area is marked private property. Beyond Crystal and the eastern end of Lead King, there isn't much due to the sloped rocky ground. There is a pull-out at the bottom of Devil's Punchbowl, very close to the narrow bridge.
–Tracy Barker (06/21/2018)

Writer Information

Tracy Barker

Mapping Crew - Colorado

Tracy is an outdoor enthusiast originally from north Alabama. Tracy's family moved to central Utah when he was a child, and subsequently to southern Utah. These family moves established a precedent, of sorts, as Tracy has lived in numerous states over the past three decades. Tracy is now settling down in Colorado Springs. His favorite activities are family trail rides and camping with small groups. This, too, is a precedent started many years ago in dad's pickup truck, followed by Tracy's first 4x4 acquisition, a 1975 Ford Bronco (in 1991). Tracy aspires to climb some of Colorado's venerable 14'ers while traveling some of the notable and not-so-well-known 4x4 trails in the Centennial State. He's excited about contributing to Trails Offroad because the site is committed to meet a critical 4-wheel drive enthusiast requirement--current and accurate trail data.
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