|Typically Open:||07/01 - 11/01|
|Highest Elevation:||12963 feet|
|Duration:||About 1 hour 1 minute|
|Shape of Trail:||Straight Through|
|Best Direction to Travel:||East|
|Nearest Town w/ Services:||Silverton|
|Official Road Name:||San Juan County Road 9 and Country Road 19|
|Management Agency:||San Juan National Forest|
|District:||Antonito Ranger District|
California Pass is a gorgeous route offering scenic vistas of the San Juan Mountains and traverses an area rich with mining history. From the top of California Pass at 12,963 feet, an amazing view looking down on the stunning Lake Como can be seen to the northwest. The eastern side of California Pass offers some of the richest mining areas Colorado had to offer in the late 1800's, with the well preserved ghost town of Animas Forks on the trail's east end.
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.Read more about our rating system
|Spring:||Closed for season|
|Summer:||Trail conditions can vary rapidly depending on weather conditions|
|Fall:||Typically closes as a result of snowfall around 11/1|
|Winter:||Closed for season|
This route guide begins on the west end of The California Pass trail. The trailhead is located near Lake Como at the intersection of Hurricane Pass to the west, Poughkeepsie Pass to the north, and California Pass to the east. There are signs in the area marking the trails.
The road quickly climbs and traverses a couple of easy switchbacks. The summit of California Pass is reached and spectacular views are found in all directions. It is a good idea at this point to look for uphill traffic ascending the east side of the pass to avoid contending with oncoming traffic on the trip down.
As the road descends the eastern side of California Pass the gorgeous California Gulch extends out to the east. Wildflowers abound in this area in late July and early August.
Continue straight at the intersection. At this point the trail intersects with the Placer Gulch trail.
The imposing Frisco Mill is found adjacent to the trail at this point. Constructed in 1912, the Frisco Mill, with its massive post and beam construction is an unusual example of a prefabricated industrial building. Its pieces were pre-cut, pre-fit, and coded with numbers and letters before being shipped to the site for assembly. At its height, the complex had 40 employees. With the ore exhausted, the operation was shut down in the 1920s.
The trail ends at the ghost town of Animas Forks. Animas Forks first cabin was built in 1873, by 1883 there were over 450 residents that mined in the area during the summer months. Every winter the town would vacate to warmer and more hospitable towns. Animas Forks is worth the look and walk around and the old homes are open to walk through. Please respect this area and do not remove any artifacts.
Starting Point: Silverton, CO