Chinaman Gulch

Buena Vista, Colorado (Chaffee County)

Last Updated: 06/29/2019
5 /5 ( 5 reviews )
Information
Nearby Trails
Status: Open
Typically Open: Year Round
Length: 6.9 miles
Highest Elevation: 8821 feet
Duration: About 4 hours
Shape of Trail: Loop
Best Direction to Travel: N/A
Nearest Town: Buena Vista
Nearest Town w/ Services: Johnson Village
Official Road Name: 6044
Management Agency: Bureau of Land Management
District: Salida Ranger District
Showing 0 trails within 2 miles

Highlights

Highlight: Chinaman Gulch

Chinaman Gulch is a very popular, difficult rock crawling trail best suited for modified vehicles. Minimal snow to the area makes it an ideal location for winter wheeling. There are many obstacles and rocks to play on along this 4wd trail, many of which provide multiple lines from easy to hard. Although not very scenic, the occasional views of the Collegiate Peaks are astonishing. This trail is a great trail for groups as the main obstacles provide enough room for vehicles to pull out of the way and watch other vehicles attempt the obstacle.

Video

Weather

7 day forecast for Chinaman Gulch

Route Information

Technical Rating:
(DIFFICULT - SEVERE)

Read more about our rating system

Waypoints

1. Staging Area (0.00 mi)

Chinaman Gulch and Carnage Canyon share the same trailhead parking lot. There is plenty of room here for any number of vehicles to air down and prep for the trail. During the summer months, there is an outhouse on site provided by the local 4x4 club that has adopted Chinaman's. From the parking lot, follow the road heading directly north through a couple of mud holes with signs for Chinaman Gulch.

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 38.792219, -106.085567

Starting Point: Johnson Village

Take Highway 285 to Johnson Village. There are gas stations there where you can fill up if you need to. Just east of town between the rafting building and mile marker 214, you'll see county road 301 heading south. Take that road for 1.6 miles till you see a red barn and house on your right. Just before the barn, across the road to your left you'll see a green gate marked "Prison Property" that runs in a straight line towards the mountains and an open area (you can see this open area from the main road). You will also see a small BLM sign marking the direction to Chinaman Gulch and Carnage Canyon. Go down that road and after about a half mile you reach the open parking area where you can prepare your rig for the trail.

Camping

Dispersed

Land Use Issues

This trail is under threat for permanent closure. Due to a recent lawsuit with the Pike San Isabel National Forest, this trail is part of nearly 500 miles of trails threatened to be closed. Find current information at wwwpsitravelmanagement.org Have a voice! Show you actually care! And speak up. It's NOT OK TO CLOSE TRAILS!

Trail Reviews (16)

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
This trail was more difficult than I expected, but I had a blast. Made it thru solo in my cj7 , which is heavily modified, without any major difficulties and picked all the lines from the driver seat. It’s really cool that Colorado has this type of terrain to play on. I drove down from Wyoming, which despite having killer terrain, sadly does not embrace this type of off road activity and only has dirt roads for four wheelers to go fast on. Can’t wait to try some more Colorado trails. Thank you Trailsoffroad.com. for your site.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Trail is in great shape. Obstacles are all challenging and require solid tire placement an good spotter. The is an all day adventure. We saw 4 Buggy's on the trail all day.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Calvary 4-Wheelers ran Chinamans Gulch on Saturday, June 29, 2019 as one of our "challenge" trips for this year. We had 3 people in 2 rigs, me in my green Cherokee and Rich and Jon in their red Cherokee. The trail has gotten a little harder since the last time I ran it 5 or 6 years ago, especially the rock obsticles before the Squeeze. It was a challenge for our Cherokees on 31s but we made it through without having to strap or winch and with no breakage. The views of the Collegiate Peaks are as increadable as ever.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Snow, sleet, rain and thunder made for an exciting trip! Trail is 100% open with no ice.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
No snow, ran it with a rig on 40s, jk on 35s and a 16 tacoma Trd on 33s. It was a work out getting the Tacoma through the trail with out caving in rockers. Sliders are a must. Jk on 35s made it no problems

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran the trail today as part of a trail patrol group with Colorado Off Road Enterprise (CORE). Coming into the parking lot there is some snow and ice to deal with on the access road. It drys out at the parking lot. The first mile didn't have really any snow on it with it being a southern facing slope, but from there there was several inches of snow with some slight ice on the declines. Once you get into the wash around the 2 mile mark, there is problems 6"-8" of icy, thick packed snow. This made whales tail interesting and fun. It also made the hills running up towards the stairs very interesting. Looks like a group from the day before slid off the trail a few times attempting those hill climbs.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Love this trail it’s fun kinda challenging and always ready for a winter run snow adds a little more challenge

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
The trail appears to be in pretty much the same condition as it was this past fall. Snow conditions were pretty dismal, even for this trail. The first couple obstacles above the hill climb remain relatively difficult but were snow free. Once beyond the Carnage Canyon exit, a few inches of snow covered the ground. Once down in the wash, there was a bit more snow and a lot of ice in the shadowy areas. Rock Pile is a pretty sunny spot, so not a lot of snow there, however, Whales Tail was extremely icy denying anyone that tried a line other than the far right. Once up above the wash on the ridge, the snow dried out a little bit again.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Chinaman Gulch has gotten worse over the past 2 years is an understatement to say the least. What was passable with maybe just a small lift and some slightly bigger tires I would recommend at least 35" tires and lockers would be a great help. The first obstacle is maybe the worst and it doesn't have a name because its usually not an obstacle. As mentioned in the previous trip report they have closed almost all the bypasses, that being done I would rate this trail a very solid 7-8 and expect it to get worse because the big rigs keep making the holes deeper and washout continues as normal.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Led a trip through Chinamans for the first ever 14er Fest. Due to the significant hard rains this summer, the trail was extremely eroded away in sections and new boulders have now been exposed. The trek up the hill to the Carnage exit was extremely rocky. Also, the wash section after Whale's Tail was also extremely eroded with a number of new, large boulders to play on. The stairs seem to get deeper each year at the first stair, but this is due to vehicles throwing dirt out and not from natural erosion. This may fill back in one day.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Expecting rocks and challenges, we were not disappointed in Chinaman Gulch. With all the rain that the Buena Vista area has received over the past few weeks, the trail was a bit more difficult than usual. Much of earth that typically holds rocks in place was loosened making many of the obstacles very difficult. There were two stock Rubicons in the group that could not finish the trail without a tow-strap assist in a few spots. The trail caused a couple of vehicles to receive bumps and bruises along the way, but nothing that required under-the-hood surgery. The trail seemed a bit more difficult than it has in the recent past.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
I had not run Chinaman Gulch in two years, so when I saw that 8Koffroad was going to be there, I decided it would be a great trip to join and get to know them. The trail has changed quite a bit since I was last there; the first two obstacles are more difficult/more rutted, and I kissed my rear quarter panel on the rock at the first obstacle! Hoping that this was not an omen, I continued up the trail. We had a blast taking turns climbing obstacles like Whale's Tail, the Stairs, and the Chute. It is fun to watch different builds tackle different lines. I ended up with a few scratches, but no real damage. I drove home to Colorado Springs without incident, another fun trail weekend in the books!

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Chinaman Gulch made for quite the difficult but yet fun trail to run. The weather was nice and hot. Which made for quite a dusty ride. For which took us about 4hrs to complete with 7 rigs. A lot of the difficulty that I experianced was the result of my vehicle. As obstacles on this trail require great approach, break, and departure angles. As well as a few of them needing tight turning radiuses. I was able to complete this in a 2nd gen Tacoma with 31" tires and a 3" lift. However I did not complete it unscathed. My sliders took a great beating along with my skids and rear bumper taking a few hits as well. So I would say this trail is not intended for the overlander, such as myself, amongst us. But even with the damage it still resulted in a trail worth doing. That offered both challenge and some amazing views.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
With all the recent snow that had hit the central and northern mountains, we decided to head to Buena Vista for the day since they hadn't received any snow. There were only 3 of us in today's group and we started the trail about 10:30am. The trail was dry pretty much the whole way through with the exception of Whale's Tail. There was a little bit of snow and ice at the base of the obstacle but nothing too crazy. Traction was still very good there. Please remember that this is a one-way trail, counter clock wise. If ran the wrong direction, there is very little room to bypass oncoming traffic. The first climb from the parking lot I don't feel has changed much over the past year, but if it's been a few years since you last ran Chinaman's, then it's going to surprise you how much more difficult that section has become. The rock garden to me seems the same as it's always been, with many different lines varying in difficulty, it was nothing new. It was perfectly dry in this area. No one in our group tried the far left side of Whale's tail, but it hasn't appeared to change much either. The easiest line is still to the far right. At the stairs, the base has really been dug out so short wheel base vehicles are going to find the only real line for them is to the far right, or the far left cutting it by the tree. The v-notch, which is the last real obstacle, has changed quite a bit. 1 or 2 large boulders have moved making the obstacle not as difficult as it once was. Overall, the trail was in great shape and the conditions were certainly ideal.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
It was a beautiful day to be out wheeling. Not a cloud in the sky, the T-Tops are off and it's February? Gotta love Colorado. Only two of us were out, a stock 2 door JK Rubicon and a lifted JKUR on 35's. Having only two people made it better. Each got to drive and spot. The ever changing Rock Garden was as fun as ever. The sandy decline just before the split for the loop portion has been filled in but once the ground thaws and rain washes it out it should be back to the deep gulch it usually is. There was a little snow and ice built up at the foot of Whales Tail that made the middle line easy. The rock that caused you to crawl high up the side of the wall on the right side of the V-Notch has been moved a few inches to the left. So testing the sidewall traction wasn't needed. The other rock that was to the left of that has totally been moved further down the rocky slope, thus causing the easiest route to be to the far left. Besides the stretch from before the Rock Pile to the Stairs, there was not very much snow and ice to slow us down. The ground was still frozen enough to not cause a muddy mess everywhere else. We had no real carnage except a clogged power steering pump which caused difficult turning.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
The weather held out for us yet again! Normally it's pretty chilly by now but with a high of 59 degrees and the sun shining made for a great day. It also made for some beautiful landscape photos with the snow covered mountains for a background. We were the first to arrive in the parking area and as we unloaded trailers and waited for others in our group, more and more people started to arrive. We had about 8 vehicles in our group ranging from Toyota pickups, Tacoma's, and 4Runners of all years! There were even more people from another group so total there were about 20 rigs, which made for a long day, but gave us plenty to watch and people to talk to! Most of our group decided to take the harder route on the first optional obstacle. It proved to be a challenge for anyone without a front locker as you get high centered. Most needed a slight tug to get over. The trail is pretty washed out from when I last ran it, so there are a lot of new rocky areas. The gravel hills were pretty washed out too providing a tippy challenge to go down. Our group stopped and played around on the Rock Pile for a while and then continued on to the Whale's Tail. A few rigs tried the harder left line, but only one was successful. The area below was very muddy and it took a few shots to get everybody up. Further up the trail we stopped and had lunch at The Stairs while a few people played around on them. It also was muddy at the bottom and was pretty dug out so most needed a tug to get over. We made quick work moving through the trail, one area we did have to take extra care as it can get a bit tippy and lean you into a large rock. Normally the trail is done in a few hours but since we had such a large group it took most of the day. But it was worth it!

Questions & Answers (0)

Writer Information

Ryan Boudreau

Mapping Crew - Colorado

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 all things Jeep and off road related, and that passion has never died out. I am a member of the Mile-Hi Jeep Club, Patrol 16 Sasquatch Jeepers and currently own an '06 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited (LJ) nicknamed "Minion". I am a huge supporter of Stay the Trail and Tread Lightly, and have participated and even been in charge of many trail restoration projects. I have been a trail leader several times for events such as All-4-Fun, ColoradoFest, Set Them Free, 14er Fest, and other. I am also the creator of the Unlimited LJ Adventure. My rig is built for extreme offroading, but I love to get my tires dirty on any kind of trail whether it's rock crawling or just scenic high Alpine drives. I've wheeled all over the country including Colorado, Utah, Kansas, the Carolinas, AZ, and I have even ran the historic Rubicon Trail. I love a great adventure, and love even more to share those adventures with others. If you see the "minion" out on the trail, make sure to stop and say hello.
For individual use only, not to be shared.