Picayne and Placer Gulches

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4.7/5 (27 reviews)
Silverton, Colorado (San Juan County)
Last Updated: 12/02/2023
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Trail Information

Highlights

Picayne and Placer Gulch is a gorgeous route offering scenic vistas of the San Juan Mountains and traverses an area rich with mining history. This area is alive with vivid wildflowers in the peak season of late July/early August, painting a colorful pattern across the green alpine meadows and towering stone peaks. The Sound Democrat Mill is one of the best-preserved mine structures in Colorado. Restored by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for visitors to tour, it still possesses all of its machinery in place, from the stamp batteries to Wilfley tables. This lets visitors see how precious minerals were processed from the raw ore that entered the mill.


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Trail Navigation

Check out our Poughkeepsie Gulch (3.12 mi away) trail guide for an All-Access Preview!

Trail Reviews

4.7/5 (27)
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Official Crew
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11450
Seasonal Closure
Visited: 12/02/2023

Updating this trail status to Seasonal Closure as the area has been blanketed with snow by multiple early winter storms and will continue accumulating through the season. Although no gates are present, for safety reasons, this trail should be considered closed for the season. See everyone in the late spring!
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Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 09/21/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Harder

This is a beautiful trail with some very well-preserved mining history, Be sure to leave time to look at some of these structures that are still standing! The summit is a great place to eat lunch with ample parking to enjoy the stunning views. At WP 2 we stayed on the main trail. Up to the summit (running it in the direction described by the Waypoints) I would rate the trail a 3 due to the rocks on the trail. After the summit it's smoother but there are still some steep descents, as with most of the trails in this area. I'm glad we took this loop.
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Official Crew
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43450
Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 08/16/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Ok...I think this is the hidden gem of the San Juans. The history along this trail is truly incredible! Treasure Mountain Mine and Sound Democrat Mill are beyond words. I could have spent all day exploring just the 2 mining areas alone. The summit of this trail is also truly amazing. This trail is a bit easier than the others in the area. I think the 2 is an accurate rating, but you absolutely need a transfer case to tackle the steep pitches. I have done just about every popular trail in the San Juans and I was not expecting a lot from this trail, but it has easily made it to my must-do trails of the San Juans. If you love history, you'd be truly missing out if you skipped this trail.
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1000
Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 07/21/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Harder

Beautiful underrated trail in Ouray. Ran in a 4runner 33s 3 inch lift. A few good inclines and declines that you’ll appreciate low range gearing on. Giving a harder rating due to a decently deep runoff rut after waypoint 7 along the shelf road that you’ll want to have careful placement on until fixed.
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1700
Open
Visited: 07/06/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

The trail is washed out at the creek crossing about .15 miles past waypoint 2 (37.91271, -107.56215). We took county road 9 (at waypoint 2) instead. We rejoined the trail at waypoint 5 and headed towards waypoint 4 to see how far we could make it. A snow drift blocked the trail at 37.90931, -107.57802. There wasn't really a spot to turn around, so we backed up about 1/4 mile to waypoint 5. From there we were able to complete the rest of the trail. It looked like the trail was still blocked by snow at other spots between waypoints 4 and 5. We were able to drive down to the Sound Democrat Mill but the walking trail on the other side of creek was block by snow preventing access to the mill.

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