Birdseye Gulch

Leadville, Colorado (Lake) Technical Rating: 5

Last Updated: 07-05-2017

Highlight
Status: Open
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 4.6 Miles
Category: Altitude, Forest, Overland, Rock
Highest Elevation: 12,118 '
Duration: about 2 hours
Shape of Trail: Straight Through
Best Direction to Go: South
Connecting Trails:
Mosquito Pass
Nearest Town:
Leadville
Nearest Town w/ Service:
Leadville
Nearby Trails:
Hagerman PassHalfmoon CreekLily LakeMount ZionSlide LakeWurts Ditch
Forest Service Road: #
Forest Service / Park District:
Leadville Ranger District

Birdseye Gulch Highlights

Highlights: Birdseye Gulch - Leadville, Colorado

Located just outside of the highest incorporated city in US, this 4wd off-road trail combines every feature of a classic Jeep road. Birdseye is narrow, rocky, steep, with standing water in places, creek crossings, gorgeous high alpine views, and even some mud. This trail is a side trip off of Mosquito Pass and a much more interesting route than taking the county road up from Leadville.

Technical rating: (5) Moderate

Rutted and/or rocky road. No shelves. Rocks up to 12" and water crossings up to 12" with possible currents. Passable mud. Moderate grades to 15 degrees. 6" holes. Side hill to 20 degrees. 4WD required. No width problems.

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Directions to Trailhead

From Denver, take I-70 west to highway 191 south. The trail head is on the left, shortly after mile marker 6.

From Leadville, take highway 191 north. The trail head is on the right, 5.4 miles from the intersection of highway 91 and highway 24. If you reach mile marker 6, you have gone too far.

 

Trailhead GPS Coordinates:

39° 18' 53.6"N
106° 13' 29.6"W

Topo Maps:

GPS Exchange File:

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Route Description

Birdseye can be run in either direction, but we found that running it up hill from highway 91 makes the trip a bit more challenging. Start on the valley floor weaving your way around private property before entering dense forest and climbing a rocky, narrow road uphill between Mosquito Peak and Prospect Mountain. Work your way through the trees, across the creek, and even over a set of railroad tracks for an active tourist train. Just as you think the trail is opening up, it surprises you with a stretch of slightly tippy trail leaning you towards the gulch below. Back into more dense forest with slightly larger rocks and more standing water. You finally surpass treeline and start your trek across the alpine tundra and work your way towards the top of the ridge. Once you have crested the ridge, you are now free to explore the many other dirt roads and trails in the area.

1: Start of Birdseye Gulch (0.0mi)

Birdseye Gulch - Waypoint 1: Start of Birdseye Gulch Birdseye Gulch - Waypoint 1: Start of Birdseye Gulch Birdseye Gulch - Waypoint 1: Start of Birdseye Gulch

Between mile markers 5 & 6, on the east side of highway 91, look for a dirt road leaving the highway and crossing under the power lines. Immediately after leaving the highway, there will be a black mailbox on your left marked, "5340". This wide area is the ideal location to air down.

2: Creek Crossing (1.3mi)

Birdseye Gulch - Waypoint 2: Creek Crossing Birdseye Gulch - Waypoint 2: Creek Crossing Birdseye Gulch - Waypoint 2: Creek Crossing

After some climbing through the trees for a little bit, you make a hard 90° left turn and come to this gorgeous water crossing. The water at this crossing should be easily passable by any stock 4x4 even during peak runoff.

3: Railroad Crossing (1.4mi)

Birdseye Gulch - Waypoint 3: Railroad Crossing Birdseye Gulch - Waypoint 3: Railroad Crossing Birdseye Gulch - Waypoint 3: Railroad Crossing

Shortly after the river crossing, you come across a railroad crossing. This is an active crossing for the Leadville Colorado & Southern Railroad. The train moves very slowly and also blasts it's horn while coming to the crossing, so do not feel like you have to rush across the tracks to beat a high-speed train.

This train takes you on a 2.5hr journey through the woods to the continental divide along the historic route of past miners. Departure times from Leadville very depending on the month. Check out the link above for more info.

4: Stay Right (2.1mi)

Birdseye Gulch - Waypoint 4: Stay Right Birdseye Gulch - Waypoint 4: Stay Right Birdseye Gulch - Waypoint 4: Stay Right

Stay right and go southwest at the first Y intersection you reach after the railroad crossing and climb uphill to stay on the main trail. Going to the left leads you to a few, high alpine secluded camping spots.

5: Steep, Loose, Rocky Climb (2.2mi)

Birdseye Gulch - Waypoint 5: Steep, Loose, Rocky Climb Birdseye Gulch - Waypoint 5: Steep, Loose, Rocky Climb Birdseye Gulch - Waypoint 5: Steep, Loose, Rocky Climb

This rocky climb could be a challenge for low clearance, stock SUVs. Vehicles with good clearance should find it to be no problem.

6: Repaired Mud Bog (3.1mi)

Birdseye Gulch - Waypoint 6: Repaired Mud Bog Birdseye Gulch - Waypoint 6: Repaired Mud Bog Birdseye Gulch - Waypoint 6: Repaired Mud Bog

Once the location of the famous mud bog, this area was repaired by a local Jeep Club using funds from the Colorado State Parks OHV Sticker Fund.

7: Stay Left (4.3mi)

Birdseye Gulch - Waypoint 7: Stay Left Birdseye Gulch - Waypoint 7: Stay Left Birdseye Gulch - Waypoint 7: Stay Left

Stay left and go east as you crest the top of the ridge. At this point you will see Mosquito Pass climbing the switchbacks in front of you. Turning right and heading west here will take you on a short trip to the top of 12,500ft Prospect Mountain.

8: Intersect with Mosquito Pass (4.6mi)

Birdseye Gulch - Waypoint 8: Intersect with Mosquito Pass Birdseye Gulch - Waypoint 8: Intersect with Mosquito Pass Birdseye Gulch - Waypoint 8: Intersect with Mosquito Pass

Turn right here and head west to go down into Leadville, or go left and head east to continue over Mosquito Pass and into Alma. Lakes you will pass heading down to Leadville include Mountain Lake, Diamond Lake and Conley Lake.

Camping and Lodging

Camping & Lodging: Birdseye Gulch - Leadville, Colorado

Dispersed camping can be found in a number of areas along Birdseye Gulch. There are also a number of hotels located in Leadville.

Wp7c

Ryan Boudreau

Hi, I'm Ryan! I am a Colorado native and I've been wheeling since I was 16 years old. I grew up with a relentless passion for...

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Questions & Answers

Question:

Are ATV's allowed to go over Mosquito Pass?
By Sandy Rothe on July 04, 2017
respond

Answer:

We have seen atvs on the west side of the pass, but you would need to contact Leadville Ranger District to get a concrete ruling on the legality of them on that road. South Park Ranger District is the controlling jurisdiction on the east side. I would check with them too.
By Ryan Boudreau Official Crew on July 05, 2017

Question:

Is Birdseye Gulch closed seasonally? Can't find that info or I missed it. Thanks for a great site!!
By Adam on February 09, 2017
respond

Answer:

If by seasonally closed you mean, does it have a gate? Then no, there are no seasonal gates on Birdseye. We do not have a current report on the trail, but it is covered in snow and listed as partially open due to the fact it does not have a gate but is not passable from beginning to finish due to snow.
By Ryan Boudreau Official Crew on February 09, 2017

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