This trail is a 25.5-mile straight connection from Lake City to the ghost town ofAnimas Forks
. It’s also one of the starting points for the Alpine Loop. This trail is great for nearly as any high clearance vehicle can make this trail in good conditions.
Other than some shelf areas, this trail is relatively easy throughout with no major obstacles to note. You’ll encounter a few rocks in the dirt and the occasional stream crossing as well.
This trail travels well above the timberline and much if it is fragile alpine tundra. It’s extremely important that travelers follow the trail and do not deviate from it. The damage one vehicle can do can by going off-trail can take years for the area to recover.
Typically, this trail opens in June, however there is no standard date to give out. This trail and area is completely governed by snow and unstable rock in the region. The San Juan Forest Service maintains a list of the trails in the area and what is open to the day. We will update this page as the trail is open or closed seasonally.
In summer, it's a good idea to check this page directly for updates that can close the trail in summer for short periods, like rockslides and accidents. Click here for the most up to date information.
To run the Alpine Loop in it’s traditional route, start in the town of Lake City. Go south and begin the loop at Cinnamon Pass. When you get to waypoint 20 on Cinnamon Pass, turn right (north) and head uphill towards Engineer Pass. After 2.1 Miles the Engineer Pass - Alpine Loop Connector ends, turn right (east) to pick up Engineer Pass at waypoint 11 back towards Lake City.
This is the entrance to the Alpine Loop and Cinnamon Pass if coming from the east and starts on pavement. There a lot of private drives and no part between here and the next waypoint is open. Stay straight all the way through.
2. Intersection with CR 33
Stay straight (south) at this intersection. On the left (east) is CR 33 and on the right (west) is an unknown and likely private road.
3. ATV Staging Area and Parking Lot
Stay straight (southwest) here unless you’d like to use this chance to air down. This is an ATV staging area and some trails on both sides of the road nearby for them. Watch for ATV and foot traffic in the area.
4. Williams Creek Campground
Stay straight (southwest) here. On the right (west) is Williams Creek Campground
and is a paid camping site. There are some campgrounds on the other side of the road that appear to be unauthorized locations.
5. Intersection with Private Property Roads
Stay straight (south) here, there is private property on both sides of the trail for the next mile or so.
6. Intersection with CR 36
Stay right (northwest) away from CR 36. CR36 will take you to the
Ghost town of Carson, Colorado
. One of the more well preserved and less traveled old mining towns in the area.
7. Bathroom and Rest Stop
Stay straight (west) for the trail. On the left (south) is a maintained pit bathroom and if you need to go, you should stop here. The trail is long and bumpy and your bladder will thank you. There is some trail access for ATV’s, foot and horse traffic to the side.
8. Mill Creek Camground
Stay to the right (west) on the trail. On the left (south) is the Mill Creek Campground
. This is a paid site.
9. Intersection with Sherman Road (CR 35) and Seasonal Gate
Stay right (northwest) and uphill at this split in the road. You will see plenty of signs and you want to go up past the seasonal gate. The road on the left (southwest) is Sherman Road (CR 35).
10. Intersection To Historical Sherman Townsite & Interpretive Site
Stay to the right (northwest) at the Historical Sherman Townsite and Interpretive Site.
11. Mining Ruins, Walking Trails, Bathrooms and Parking Lot
Stay straight (northwest) through the town here. There are pit toilets available and a parking lot for ATV riders along with some trail entrances.
The Silver Creek, Grizzly Gulch Hiking trailheads are here and marked well just beyond the bathrooms.
12. Campsite with a View
Stay to the left (west) and on the well-traveled trail. This place is noted because it looks like a trail from the main road, but is actually a campsite.
13. Scenic Stop With Informational Sign
There is a scenic stop here that includes signs that give information about the area while looking down into the valley behind you. It’s well worth the stop. The Copper Creek walking trail is 0.1 miles ahead as well.
14. Scenic Stop With Informational Sign
Stay straight (southwest) here. This is another scenic stop that is marked by a sign from the BLM.
15. Creek Crossing / Waterfall
While this creek crossing is not that deep it is large and the spring run off can make it deeper and faster. Do not get out in the water here as the rocks are slick and if the water is fast can take you down.
16. Unauthorized/Private Spur
Stay straight (southwest). This appears to be an unauthorized spur or private property that is not well marked and does not appear on maps.
17. Intersection with Unknown Trail
Stay straight (southwest). This is an unnamed spur that does appear on maps but does not appear to have a designation.
18. Intersection with CR 12
Stay right (southwest) at this intersection with CR 12. You will start climbing here and there are a few switchbacks to negotiate but nothing very tight. About a half-mile after this waypoint there is a rock slab and some steps to be careful on.
If you would like to head down CR 12 it will take you towards American Basin area.
. It's wildflowers draw photographers from all over in July and August for this show of color above the timberline. You can get an idea of the visual beauty of this area here
19. Cinnamon Pass Summit
This is the summit of Cinnamon Pass. There is a sign here to indicate where you are and you can see well in both directions from this point. There is often a lot of vehicle traffic here in the morning and early afternoon. Watch for people, vehicles, and marmots! There are a lot of yellow-bellied marmots in the area and they don’t really know to stay away from vehicles and not run across the trail. Take it slow, do not feed the animals, and mind the wildlife in their fragile ecosystem.
20. Alpine Loop Connector & Animas Forks Split
21. Intersection with Unnamed Road
Make a sharp right here (northwest). This is the intersection of CR 2 and an unnamed road down to Animas Forks
22. Trail Ends in Animas Forks at CR 9
The trail ends in the middle of Animas Forks
just over the creek. If you travel into the town there are lots of plaques to give you history on the area. Respect the ruins as they are well preserved and should be kept that way for years to come. There is a parking area where you can congregate and do things like air up if you'd like before taking CR 9 south towards Silverton.