Pickle Gulch (Blackhawk)

Black Hawk, Colorado (Gilpin County)

Last Updated: 11/02/2019
4.5 /5 ( 13 reviews )
Information
Nearby Trails
Status: Partially Open
Typically Open: Year Round
Length: 2.3 miles
Highest Elevation: 10128 feet
Duration: About 1 hour
Shape of Trail: Straight Through
Best Direction to Travel: North
Nearest Town: Black Hawk
Nearest Town w/ Services: Black Hawk
Official Road Name: 718.1
Management Agency: Arapaho National Forest
District: Clear Creek Ranger District
Showing 0 trails within 2 miles

Highlights

Highlight: Pickle Gulch (Blackhawk)
Technically Forest Service Road 718.1 is named Blackhawk but, because much of the lower part of the trail follows Pickle Gulch and because the Pickle Gulch Group Campground is right at the trailhead, it has been known in the Colorado 4-wheeling community as Pickle Gulch Trail for several decades. This 4x4 route delivers on much of the best of what Colorado's Front Range has to offer. Expect to experience smooth tree-shaded portions, open meadows, bumpy dirt roads, steep climbs, collapsed log cabins, weathered mining structures, and views of Rocky Mountain peaks. The top of Pickle Gulch connects to the extensive network of trails around Oregon Hill and Dakota Hill offering even more mining history, spectacular views and offroad adventure.

Video

Weather

7 day forecast for Pickle Gulch (Blackhawk)

Route Information

Technical Rating:
(MODERATE - DIFFICULT)

Read more about our rating system

Waypoints

1. Pickle Gulch Trailhead (0.00 mi)
The trail begins when you turn west off of Missouri Gulch Road toward Pickle Gulch Campground.

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 39.842831, -105.522758

Starting Point: Black Hawk or Rollinsville

From Black Hawk, go north on Colorado Highway 119 approximately 3.5 miles or, from Rollinsville, go south on Highway 119 10.3 miles. Just north of the Gilpin School, look for signs to the Pickle Gulch Campground and turn left onto Missouri Gulch Road (County Road 15S). Head northwest on Missouri Gulch Road for 0.8 miles to the trailhead. Turn left at the signs for Pickle Gulch Campground to begin the trail.

Camping

Dispersed
Improved

Trail Reviews (22)

Author: Official Crew
Status: Impassable
Offroaded on:
Rating:
The trail is icy and snow packed for the duration of the drive, but a well equipped vehicle should be able to make it to the cabin no problem. Beyond that the snow gets very deep very quick. It becomes impassable by deep, hard, off camber snow about halfway between waypoints 11 and 12. Even with our rigs on 40 and 42s, we opted to turn around after sliding off the trail and having to winch several times.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
All good to go. Fun trail. A few years ago at the top there was a "shortcut" that went up to the main intersection at the top. That is now closed, but the route around is fun as you go over by the "cabin" and up the tailing pile. I explored the FS roads up top off the left as well...716.1, 713.1...they have a few decent sections but get really narrow the further you go and eventually end up on private property. Just FYI.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran this in my mostly stock FJ100 (33s with no lift). We took the more challenging route at every opportunity. Aside from one well-placed, large rock on the hill obstacle (which took 4 tires to get the right angle), all was accomplished without scraping or any other drama. The tail is pretty narrow all the way through with lots of evidence that mirrors were introduced the unsuspecting trees. There are definitely quite a few places were tire placement is important whether because of larger rocks or tippy notches. All in all, the Trails off road rating seems pretty spot on compared to other trails I've run. It should offer a nice test for most stock rigs and newer drivers wanting to step up the challenge. The scenery is nice too. Most of the trail was shaded. There were lots of mushrooms in various types off the side of the road, yellow orange and massive tan monsters. In the less shaded areas the wildflowers were still abundant. If the challenging part of the trail was a little longer I would have rated this 5 stars. It's definitely a great little trail, but I wish it were longer.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
I've run this trail twice now, once in a stock 2013 4Runner SR5 and once in a stock 2011 4Runner SR5. This trail is a bit challenging, I scraped a few times and tested the ATRAC through the rock ledge but it climbed right up, no problem. The mine at the end is very cool, my kids loved exploring it.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
PLEASE STAY THE TRAIL. This trail has gotten more washed out / difficult in places over the years. When I just ran it I noticed a high number of "new" trails going around the tough sections. People just cutting through the woods to get past the challenge. Do not cut around the difficult sections, if you can't make it up then turn around. Really sad to see how many people haven't stayed the trail in this area. Regardless of that, it is by far one of my favorites close to Denver. The wildflowers are still blooming like crazy up there. There's a good mix of rocky/ rutted sections to keep it fun. A solid moderate trail that is a fun challenge.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
The fun starts right out of the gate and continues for ~ 1 mile. After that it's pretty tame. Great fun early on but overly tame further up the hill. Definitely only an Easy-to-Moderate trail. Conditions were perfect.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Fun trail! The climb up the obstacle not nearly as bad as it looks. Explored the mines, I can say when "soupy" take your time around the mines, very easy to slide around. I would call this trail moderate

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran Pickle Gulch this past weekend and had a blast! The trail is open from beginning to end. Strange that the day after the Summer Solstice that we managed to find some heavy snowfall, some of which was sticking to the ground! Got to love Colorado weather! Awesome time, regardless.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran Pickle Gulch to Dakota Hill to Gamble Gulch Connector. Was with a buddy who just purchased a brand new Jeep for a challenging introduction to off-roading, so a good trail for beginners as long as you have someone experienced to walk you through it. Accidentally turned off on the Upper Wide Awake Spur mistaking it for Gamble Gulch Connector and received some severe pinstripes/battle scars, so don't make that mistake if you value your paint job! Never had to engage lockers and only engaged 4-low for a few of the early on obstacles as well. Beautiful scenery!

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Had a great time with the family on this trail (6\15\2019)! Some snow drifts remain on secondary trails, but nothing crazy. Ran all the way to apex and took secondary trails back.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran this downhill! Lots of articulation great challenge. Did not bottom out stock JL 2 Door Wrangler once. But there are some really good articulation points for a low clearance of longer vehicle

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran this up to Apex, open all the way. Was my first time on this trail and it didn’t disappoint!!

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
I ran this trail a day or two after the first few snows in the area and had an absolute blast! It was pretty slick, and I had to winch up the obstacle in waypoint 6, though the much lighter 4Runner that I ran the trail with didn't have any issues at all (I drive a heavy 100-series Land Cruiser). On the way down, some of the snow had melted, creating some pretty muddy conditions, but it was still a blast. Love this trail!

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
This is by far one of my favorite trails in the Dakota Hill network. In fact, I primarily use it as the main artery to the network. Great obstacles, but nothing that a stock vehicle couldn't tackle (though, I would recommend at least 31" or better yet, 33" tires), awesome views up at the top, and typically some very friendly travelers can be found. Watch your tire placement on the steep rock obstacle at Waypoint 6 - speaking of which, the bypass for that rock obstacle has been closed off - stay the trail, people! Keep your side view mirrors close and get ready for some "Colorado Pinstripes", as this one can get quite narrow. Enjoy!

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Ran this today with another jeeper. Dry all the way through with minor mud holes. Fun time. Took all the way through to Apex. The 2 major obstacles are the steep hills with rocks. Easily done locked and low.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Super fun trail! Just enough excitement for a short ride. At the steep rock hill, do not take the bypass on the left yet. My truck is the only one that was able to get up the bypass and I had to engage my crawl control in order to do it. The ground is too soft. My friends backed down to go up the hill. Took them a whole 45 seconds up and way easier than the bypass. I'm thinking the hill is the bypass now!!

Author:
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Today was awesome! The snow was melting so the trail was super wet with water running in the two track. We hit snow about 2 miles in and we’re unable to continue. Looks to me like it will be open within a few more weeks. There were multiple attempts at the drifts but no one has been successful at breaking through. Resized_20180415_140717.jpeg

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
The trail was mostly just some wet dirt and slush, however there were a few spots that I struggled with that had either some deep snow or ice. The top of the trail was impassable as the snow pack was too deep. This is where we ran into an FJ with 35in tires trying to plow through but was unsuccessful. Despite these setbacks, it still made for a great day of wheeling.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
I did not actually run this trail but, based on the conditions on nearby trails I am confident that it would currently be difficult to impossible to complete the entire trail due to snow.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Ran the trail this weekend and expected to see some snow from the recent storms, but didn't even see a trace of snow along the trail. It was dry the entire way through. The pit mentioned at waypoint 4 was completely dry and not even a slight challenge. Unlike the pictures in the guide, it is not rutted, fairly smooth, and the exit is a steady incline. It is significantly improved over prior years. The rest of the trail remained unchanged.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Fun trail with some really fun hill climbs and great views when you get out of the trees!

Author: Official Crew
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Decided to hit up Pickle Gulch for the first trail of the new year. There were 5 of us in the group this day... The Minion LJ on 37s, another LJ on 35s, a TJ on 37s, a YJ on 37s, and a JK on 35s. At the start of the trail, there was a large ice sheet, but it wasn't hard to get over in the Jeeps. It just made it very slippery when airing down. It wasn't too long before we ran into a downed tree across the trail. Someone had made a small cut in it, but only big enough for a snowmobile or ATV. We pulled out the chainsaw, cleared the tree from the trail and continued on as the first Jeeps up the trail for quite awhile. The hill obstacle described in waypoint 6 was covered in snow but we were able to get every vehicle through it. Shortly after though, just before the clearing, all 5 vehicles had to winch through an uphill snow drift that had a thick layer of ice on the bottom. Once the lead Jeep broke through the layer of powder, there was no traction to be found. Once all 5 vehicles we up, we noticed that the Aspen couch that used to sit in the clearing that someone put together years ago, has been disassembled and used for firewood. This was unfortunate to see as that make-shift-couch made for a very relaxing spot to sit and have lunch. We headed up the next section of steep hills and had to give our winches several more workouts before finally reaching the old cabin in waypoint 11. Beyond this point, the snow was deeper and the hills were just as steep so we decided we had had enough winching on this trail and turned around.

Questions & Answers (2)

Q: Is this trail wide enough for a full size crew cab truck?
–Dante (05/03/2019)
–Bill Andrews (05/04/2019)
Q: Do you think a vehicle with 8.5 inches of ground clearance at the lowest point could complete this trail? I notice there's a lot of bypasses but am still wondering if it's possible
–Chris Li (12/09/2017)
–Bill Andrews (12/10/2017)

Writer Information

Bill Andrews

Mapping Crew - Colorado

Bill is an off-road enthusiast with nearly 30 years of 'wheeling experience. At one time he had a streak of about 20 years of 4-wheeling at least once a month. He likes anything from easy, dirt roads to difficult trails but stops short of extreme. Over the years he has traveled over 700 different trails, mostly in Colorado and Utah. He loves finding and exploring new areas and sharing his knowledge with others. He has been the coordinator of Calvary 4-Wheelers for many years.
For individual use only, not to be shared.