Picayne and Placer Gulches 4wd trail is a gorgeous route offering scenic vistas of the San Juan Mountains and traverses an area rich with mining history. This area provides gorgeous wild flowers in the peak season of late July/ early August which enhances the already spectacular vistas found in all directions. Some of the best preserved mine structures in Colorado can be found along this trail. The Sound Democrat Mill is one of the finest examples and still possesses all of its machinery in place, from its stamp batteries to its Wilfley tables. This allows visitors the ability to see step by step how precious minerals were processes out of the raw ore that entered the mill. More information on the process of gold mining can be found here.
From the intersection of Greene Street and San Juan County Road 2 in Silverton: Travel northeast for 10.1 miles on San Juan County Road 2. The trailhead is on the west side of the road and is well marked. Look for a sign reading "Picayne (Picauyne) Gulch."
Most of this trail was fun to drive and I enjoyed the views. Beware of the crowds though. I stopped at the Sound Democrat Mill and found that’s where the crowds congregate. During my 5 minute walkthrough of the building I got mostly blocked in. I was lucky to get out of the parking area with a 20 point turn, and got out just before another group of 5 full size vehicles made their way down the hill with no idea of the fact there was no room left to park or turn around at the bottom.
The US Forest Service has listed the Picayne Gulch side of the trail as OPEN. The Placer Gulch side is listed a "Open to Snow" indicating there still a blockage somewhere on the Placer side of the trail.
Currently, San Juan County has issued CLOSURES on all their backcountry passes. San Miguel, Hinsdale, and Ouray County issued a travel at your own risk advisory.
Heavy snow pack and late season snow falls have greatly affected the opening date to many of the trails in the San Juan Mountains. I will try to quickly update these trail guides to reflect when the hard working plow and dozer operators are able to dig these wonderful trails out for all of us to enjoy. https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/sanjuan/maps-pubs/?cid=fsbdev3_002300
Greg Stokes Is a Colorado native, born and raised in Colorado Springs. He has been off-roading since childhood, his parents say his first trip was a Jeep run over Medano Pass when he was only 14 Months old. Greg has been at the wheel of everything from dirtbikes, ATV's, early Jeep CJ5's that he has restored, Wranglers, and presently explores in a 1997 80 Series Toyota Land Cruiser and a 2016 Kawasaki KLR650 motorcycle. Greg is a proud Husband and Father of 3. His passion in the off road world is the vehicle-reliant world of Overlanding. He hopes to one day make it to Canada to Explore the Yukon and Northwest territories.