Fourmile Area: Lenhardy Cutoff
Buena Vista, Colorado (Chaffee) Technical Rating: 3
Last Updated: 11-30-2017
Fourmile Area: Shields / McGee Loop, Fourmile Area: Spanish Mills, Fourmile Area: Natural Bridge, Fourmile Area: Big Sandy, Fourmile Area: Million Dollar View, Fourmile Area: Chubb Park
Fourmile Area: Fourmile Creek, Fourmile Area: Eagles Roost, Fourmile Area: Sevenmile Creek, Fourmile Area: Pipeline Overlook, Fourmile Area: Fourmile Ranch
San Isabel National Forest / Salida FS Ranger District
Fourmile Area: Lenhardy Cutoff Highlights
The Lenhardy Cutoff trail follows the route that was originally built by George Leonhard in 1872. The trail was built as a toll road and mail route bypassing Buena Vista to take a slightly shorter route to Leadville. The trail heads east from the Spanish Mills area and gradually gains elevation until finally making its way to Chubb Park near Hwy 285/24 on Trout Creek Pass. Camping is plentiful along the route allowing access to several additional connected trails. From Lenhardy Cutoff you can access Spanish Mills, Natural Bridge, Big Sandy, Million Dollar View, Shields Gulch, McGee Gulch and Chubb Park.
Technical rating: (3) Easy
Dirt road. Rutted, washes, or gulches. Water crossings up to 6" depth. Passable mud. Grades up to 10 degrees. Small rocks or holes. 4WD recommended but 2WD possible under good conditions and with adequate ground clearance and skill. No width problems for any normal vehicle. Vehicle passing spots frequently available if less than two vehicles wide.
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Directions to Trailhead
From the stoplight in Buena Vista head east on East Main Street and in two blocks turn left onto North Colorado Street. Continue north on Colorado Street as it becomes CR 371. Continue on CR 371, you will cross the Arkansas River and wind through a residential area before CR 371 transitions to dirt. Continue on 371 as the dirt road begins, soon you will see the Midland Train Tunnels, turn right onto FS 375 just before you get to the first tunnel. You are now at the trailhead for the Spanish Mills Trail, you must first complete Spanish Mills before reaching the trailhead for the Lenhardy Cutoff trail.
Lenhardy Cutoff climbs out of the Arkansas River valley to the east gaining elevation for most of the route before dropping into Chubb Park near the summit of Trout Creek Pass. While the road is very easy consisting of mostly sand and smooth dirt, one hill climb will require low range and one rocky section just before Chubb Park give this trail a 3 rating. There are plenty of dispersed camp sites available along the route, with larger vehicle and trailer sites available near the Shields and McGee Gulch intersections. The route described here for the first 7 Waypoints is open year round. However, the end of this trail, Waypoint 8, is managed by a seasonal gate. The gate is closed December 1st through April 15th.
1: Trailhead (0.0mi)
The trail starts just after a cattle guard at the intersection of FS 376 and FS 311. Take FS 376 to the right to start the Lenhardy Cutoff Trail.
2: Beaver Pond (0.6mi)
You will circle around the edge of a beaver pond here. There is a culvert for water to keep it off the road, however during times of high water or if the beaver dam has clogged the culvert, water may be running across the road. Take care to stay on the designated road in this area.
3: Hill (1.7mi)
Shift into 4-wheel drive low range here to make climbing this hill more manageable and to avoid tearing up the road.
4: Big Sandy (4.0mi)
Continue straight at this intersection as the Big Sandy Trail, FS 376A, joins from the right.
5: Shields Gulch (4.2mi)
Continue straight to stay on the Lenhardy Cutoff Trail. Shields Gulch Trial, FS 315, comes in on the right at this intersection.
6: Million Dollar View (5.2mi)
Continue straight to stay on the Lenhardy Cutoff Trail. The Million Dollar View Trail, 376B, departs here to the left.
7: McGee Gulch (5.3mi)
Continue straight to stay on the Lenhardy Cutoff Trail. The McGee Gulch Trials, FS 305, joins at this intersection from the right.
8: Seasonal Gate (5.3mi)
Waypoint 8 marks the location of the seasonal gate that manages the end of this trail. The gate is closed from December 1st thru April 15th. If open, continue straight to finish the Lenhardy Cutoff Trail. If closed you will have to backtrack to either the McGee Gulch Trail or the Shields Gulch Trail to get back to Hwy 24/285.
This area is part of Pike-San Isabel National Forest, and as such is part of the 2011 Lawsuit where a coalition of conservation and recreation groups are suing the U.S. Forest Service over what they say is the illegal addition of 500 miles of motorized roads and trails. A settlement was reached in late 2015 that is requiring the U.S. Forest Service to re-evaluate the roads and create a new travel management plan. Over the next year, 30 roads will be partially or completely closed while this evaluation takes place over the next 5 years.
It is imperative that the OHV community let's their voices be heard on this issue. If we do nothing, those 500 miles will be shutdown. Contact the local ranger districts and let them know why the area is important to you and the history you have there.
Camping and Lodging
Formal lodging is available in the town of Buena Vista only a few miles southwest. Camping is allowed where there are existing dispersed sites along the trail. Camping in these areas is limited to 14 days. Please camp only in existing sites with a campfire ring, do not build new campfire rings. Extinguish campfires thoroughly with water and always know and observe current fire restrictions. Please help us keep this trail clean and pack everything out that you pack in.
Questions & AnswersNo questions have been submitted.
Offroaded on 11-30-2017
Status: Seasonal Closure
Seasonal closure until April 15th, 2018 starting at Waypoint 8. Trail is still open up to this point.