Due to unprecedented and historic fire conditions, U.S. Forest Service-Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland is temporarily closing all National Forest land in Clear Creek, Jefferson, Gilpin, Boulder, and Larimer counties. The decision to be re-evaluated daily. SEE CLOSURE ORDER

McClellan Mountain

Georgetown, Colorado (ClearCreek County)

Last Updated: 10/23/2020
4.8 / 5 ( 15 reviews )
Information
Nearby Trails
Status: Not Reported
Typically Open: 06/01 - 09/30
Length: 12.2 miles
Highest Elevation: 13125 feet
Duration: About 2 hours, 30 minutes
Shape of Trail: Out & Back
Best Direction to Travel: N/A
Nearest Town: Georgetown
Nearest Town w/ Services: Georgetown
Official Road Name: 248.1
Management Agency: United States Forest Service
District: Clear Creek Ranger District
Showing 0 trails within 2 miles

Highlights

Highlight: McClellan Mountain
McClellan Mountain and Argentine Pass were part of the now Ghost Town called Waldorf, Colorado that sprouted up after silver was found here in 1864. This area and surrounding areas became known as the Argentine Mining District and benefited from the silver boom in the late 1800’s. The Argentine Central Railroad was started in 1905 and completed nearly a year later and opened to a reported summit of 13,587 feet. The train was put into operation by Edward Wilcox who at the time owned 65+ mines in the area and wanted a way to move freight and people around the area more efficiently. The line was intended to carry both passengers and freight at different times. Because of the silver bust, the focus on the railroad shifted to passenger traffic, but eventually fell victim to lack of interest and use, it was auctioned off and the railroad ripped up in 1919. Those tracks are now what makes up the network of trails to these two mountain tops. To this day, the trail is a testament engineering with six switchbacks so the train could zig-zag up the mountain, it remains the highest a train of it’s type has gone. The routes with the switchbacks needed more engines than normal and was designed so that the train could get up the mountain through pure friction with the tracks, no cog type systems were used. From mine claims, to the selling of a railroad for pennies on the dollar, the history of this area is rich and if you're a sucker for details, You can start digging here for information on all the activities that went on in this area.

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Weather

7 day forecast for McClellan Mountain

Route Information

Technical Rating:
(MODERATE )

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Waypoints

1. Leavenworth Creek Road Entrance Road 248.1 (0 mi)
Good small spot to stop in the corner of this switchback. You can air down here but there is tourist traffic on the pavement for the scenic overlook nearby and it's proximity to the entrance to the road itself can make things hard. If there’s more than two rigs, air down at the parking lots just below the switchback and come back up to the trail.

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 39.683380, -105.702890

Starting Point: I-70 Exit at Georgetown, CO

Follow the signs to Guanella Pass that pepper the town as soon as you pass the visitor center. The signs have a blue background and the Columbine flower with "Guanella Pass Scenic Byway" underneath. The pavement switchbacks a few times before reaching the trailhead. You will come across a large parking area on either side of the road right before a switchback. At the top of that switchback is a lookout over the valley below. Note: It's possible to air down here, but it's recommended that you do so at the parking area just below the trailhead.

Camping

Dispersed

Trail Reviews (33)

Author: Official Crew
Status: Not Reported
Offroaded on:
Special note: Guanella Pass has closed early for the season due to the wildfire situation in Colorado. This trail's status is not impacted by this closure, only access to these trails is now limited. Geneva from the south and Argentine/McCllelen from the north.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Temporary Closure
Offroaded on:
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (Oct. 20, 2020) – Due to unprecedented and historic fire conditions, the USDA Forest Service’s Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests is announcing a temporary closure of all National Forest land in Clear Creek, Jefferson, Gilpin, Boulder, and Larimer counties, effective at midnight tonight (closure begins at 00:01 Oct. 21). This decision will be re-evaluated daily as conditions change.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Streams are running and pretty passable right now. Lots of wind on the hill today. this is a little more bumpy than Argentine but still a lot of fun. The climb out of the river is very doable and based on group comments not as difficult as previous trips.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Multiple reports confirm that there is enough snow to make the summits impassable. The trail is reported open to the Waldorf.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Drove up there yesterday to get images of the new fencing at Waldorf Mine. The remediation work continues at that site and those areas have been blocked off while leaving some parking areas for people. Made it all the way up to the summit and boy was it windy up there towards the end of the day. I did not make it to the end of this trail since the shelf road had just enough snow on it to make me not want to risk the off-camber. Some folks on short ATV's made it over the snow, but they said that they wouldn't have wanted to do it in a larger vehicle.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
I only did the trail in to the mine that is currently being remediated (lots of construction fences and vehicles at the mine), then part of the trail up to McClellan Mountain. I ran the trail in a stock 4Runner SR5 with full pressure street tires. Nothing I did was too technical or challenging (it seems going to Argentine is harder than going to McClellan). I'm pretty sure I could have made the summit of McClellan but I just ran out of time. As others have said, the hardest part is the first mile or so after the turn off from Guanella Pass Rd. It's rocky so you need decent clearance and careful tire placement here and there, but overall not too challenging. I saw a few camp sites along the way, but there weren't that many so I'd recommend having a back up plan if you're looking to camp here.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Got up there pretty early using a mix of the FS 248.1 (Leavenworth Creek Road/"Argentine Pass" route on Trails Offroad) and FS 248.1B ("McClellan Mountain" route on Trail Offroad). Be advised that 248.1B is very bumpy and overgrown, so there are limited passing spots and a lot of pin stripes. The smoke up there from the fires out in western Colorado was pretty thick. Road is really dry and dusty right now. Not to crowded - explored a few more of the off-shoots around the Waldorf mine site - also bumpy and narrow. Still always a good route and great views of Grays and Torreys Peaks to the West from the top of McClellan Mountain.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
We did this trail in one day, it was a great trail. We did not see any construction at the waldorf mine so there were not any trucks on the trail. We will be going back up as there are lots of other trails to explore.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
This is the best most challenging way to get to the Argentine Pass basin and to the top of McClellan. It's a rocky start so I recommend airing down to at least 12-14 psi. The trail runs alongside a river with a plethora of camping spots. When it's all done you will end up where the main Argentine Pass area is. The mountain is up to the right and the pass is up to the left. There are so many abandoned mines in the area, which makes it a great day for adventures.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Remediation work will continue this year at Waldorf Mine. Be aware that there may be construction traffic, especially on weekdays. https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/arp/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD768377 Construction delays anticipated on road to Waldorf in preparation for mine reclamation project GEORGETOWN, Colo. (JULY 20, 2020) – Construction delays are anticipated on the road to Waldorf, Forest Service Road 248.1, from its junction with Guanella Pass Road (County Road 381) beginning at daybreak on July 24 through July 30, 2020, while crews walk in large construction equipment for a mine reclamation project. The equipment is large and slow moving and will require the entire width of the road, which is why we anticipate delays for the majority of each day. It will be difficult for motorized vehicles to pass the equipment, which has a 6 mile trip along the road to the project area. The excavator, loader, skid steer and tracked dump trucks are needed for a mine reclamation project that will address elevated levels of metals in tailings piles near the Waldorf Mine site. These tailings piles are actively impacting Leavenworth Creek, which is an important municipal water supply for Georgetown. The USDA Forest Service’s Abandoned Mine Lands Program and Trout Unlimited are partnering to address these hazardous tailings from entering the stream channel. This project is being completed through the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). The road will be open while the project is underway. Work will last through the end of August 2020, weather dependent, and then traffic delays will be anticipated again while the equipment is walked out of the area.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Awesome trip up McClellan Mountain before we ran Argentine Pass. Trail is completely clear. The switchbacks at the top are tight so use caution in a pickup or longer wheelbase rig.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
This trail was awesome. We went on the stretch that went up to the mine. The old mine was a really cool step back in time and the marmots of the area gave a warm welcome. If camping in the campsites along the trail make sure to practice leave no trace and wilderness safety, we got visited by an adolescent and full grown moose seperately, so you might want to be careful in mating season. There was a good bit of trash that our predecessors felt they could leave in the fire pit of our site which was the only dissapointment. Switch backs leading up to McClellan were narrow without much room for passing, but an easy enough trail for beginners whith the right setup who want some awesome views.

Author:
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
I absolutely love the trails in this area. We ran up Argentine and then came down Mclellen today. Unfortunately there is still a snow drift blocking the last leg to get to the top of Argentine Pass, but don't let this stop you from exploring these traiIs. I recommend checking out the Santiago Mine while you are up there. Without a doubt, Mclellen is my favorite since there are several water crossings and a small section of the trail is in the creek.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
First time up here - what an absolute blast of a trail! I much prefer this to get up to the Waldorf area than Argentine. Such fun water crossings! This trail had awesome camping opportunities also. As always, stay the trail and clean up any trash you see. This trail was not open to the summit - not even close.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Did a combo run of McClellan and Argentine, taking McClellan through waypoint 9 as described above. More ice in the shade than we were expecting but doable in a capable vehicle. Both water crossings had ice dams forming, they were surprisingly deep and the ascent out of one was icy as well. Not too much effort needed with moderately modified vehicles but I did need a strap on one uphill with ice. I wouldn't recommend tackling it solo unless you have the right vehicle and experience, the next decent snowsotrm will probably close the upper portions of the trail for the season.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Trail writeup has been updated with new 2019 information. Waypoint 12 had the biggest change with the closure of 248.2B.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
None of the summits are open, I got stopped at about 12,000 before hitting impassable snow. There's another visible snowbank up the trial a bit as well Trail updates with the closures and more to come in the next few days.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:

Trailsoffroad spoke to Trout Unlimited to get additional details on the remediation work going on at Waldorf and was able to get additional details on the changes on the trail.

First and foremost, these trails will largely stay open. The FS is required by law to keep these trails open for a variety of reasons. The network of trails is vast in the area though and they appear to be moving things around to manage the area better.

There will be no major remediation work at the mine this year. Crews will be working to do some vegetation and prep and stabilization work for the Waldorf mine area for 2020. Access to Waldorf mine is TRESPASSING and you will receive a ticket if caught.

Late last year, the Forest Service decommissioned the spur known as the "Hill Climb" at Waldorf. We have not spoken with the FS yet, but it's believed that this wasn't part of the original network of trails and the FS may have closed it to discourage further inappropriate use of the Waldorf site.

We will provide additional updates and details as we get them.


Author: Official Crew
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Remediation work continues this summer on the mines in the area of Argentine Pass. I have been notified of the closure of Waldorf Mine to traffic, the hill climb at Waldorf and a side trail that leads to an old cabin. These trails are either illegal additions, or they have closed it due to major toxin issues with runoff into the Colorado water supply. Trailsoffroad is in touch with the FS and the company doing the work for them. Any updates to this project will be posted here as the information is made available. Trailsoffroad crew will be up there in the next 14 days to get some new pictures and in-person information.

Author:
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Trail was open to just past the switchback on waypoint 15. Path is blocked by a large snow drift, looks like it might need a couple/few more weeks to melt. Trail was pretty fun and overall pretty easy for my mostly stock Xterra pro-4x. Water crossings were fun, but the large water crossing was about 30" at the deepest and the current was quite quick with some loose large rocks on the bottom.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Impassable
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Guanella Pass is open and we stopped by to see how far we could get. We got a little over a mile in before the snow got too deep for me and I was spinning tires, with my lockers on.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
My annual trip up to the top of Mclellan was just as great as always. I truly love the views and solitude on this trail. Nothing new to report for the trail condition, everything appears the same as last year.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Trail has many routes so if one of them is too much for the vehicle you have, just go another route. Went all the way to the top. Great views and seen some mountain goats 🐐. Stopped at the Santiago Mine. You can walk up to the mine. The preservation of the mine is very important part of history. Lots of fun to see. You will pass by a great number of places to camp. I will be going back

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Went up McClellan Mountain trail on Sunday the 1st and had no problems reaching the top, all routes were open and water at crossings was passable. Came back down Argentine Pass at the intersection of 248.1A and 248.1K, road was dry and dusty, recommend taking lower road if going in a mildly built rig or better than stock, lower road was very rocky and fits into the "moderate" trail rating. Thanks again for all of the posts, looking forward to getting out over the 4th!

Author: Official Crew
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
From Reader Nathan Voorhis: So just wanted to shed some light on current conditions as of today. Argentine pass is a no go just after the Waldorf mine site by snow drifts on the trail. If you try to go up the steep hill from the Waldorf mine towards the Santiago mine there are a couple impassable snow drifts. Also Mt McClellan trail has a snow drift on it past the Santiago mine

Author: Official Crew
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
There has been a lot of snow above the timberline and much of this trail is impassable at this time. Lower parts of it will remain open for a few weeks but will soon be snow covered until spring.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
We took a trip up Argentine, McCellen and Upper Geneva for a final season trip report. Coming down from Waldorf, we took this trail to see how much snow had accumulated. Please note, we stopped at Waldorf Mine. We could see snow on the trail about 1000' up and did not want to risk anything. Colorado 4x4 Rescue & Recovery is not doing recoveries above the treeline until spring. It is too dangerous. Do not travel up and risk your life and others. The lower part of the trail is icy in the shaded spots and will be rough in a snow or two. It was fun to go through here though and the creek ice was broken through (it appears one or two vehicles have been through here since the last snow) was about 2 inches thick. This trail is on the brink of a virtual seasonal closure.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
We did the lower creek portion of the trail to see the foliage and get away from the crowds. The stream was low and easy to cross.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
It was a great day on the trail until the storm rolled in. I had just passed the shelf road and the thunder and lightning started so we headed back below the treeline. I popped a tire's sidewall on the way down, these rocks keep getting sharper.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
I wanted to find a location to witness the Great Solar Eclipse of 2017 and the Argentine Pass area is one my favorite for any lunar or celestial events. McClellan is not one of my favorite trails in terms of driving, it has long shelf roads with no passing and there is little room at the summit for parking and hanging out if others are up there. It does, however, have great scenery! We took our chances that the trail would be lightly traveled on a Monday and that we wouldn't have to deal with any impossible passing situations on the shelf road. The view from the top is amazing with Grays and Torreys Peak provided a dramatic backdrop for the eclipse.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
We did the lower portion of the trail and the road was fine. The creek is much lower, but the rutting caused by it may cause us to increase the difficulty. More to come and this trail will contain new information on Monday. If taking the creek route, use caution while we determine difficulty updates.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
We didn't have time to wrap the mountain and go to waypoint 17, and the status of that part of the trail is unknown you can reach the summit at the end of the trail by just climbing to the last waypoint. The creek is very high and the water came up past the bottom seam of the doors of my JK. The first crossing has a large rut forming (pictured) and we will be keeping an eye on it as the creek dries. It may leave some challenging damage.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Checking in on trail conditions. We didn't make it far down the trail. Only to between Waypoint 2 and 3. The snow is rather deep and slick.

Questions & Answers (2)

Q: I see there's an update from yesterday for McClellan, but how is Argentine looking? We'll be there next week :) Thank you in advance!
–Shawna (07/06/2019)
–Shawna (07/07/2019)
–Jen & JD Marshall (07/06/2019)
Q: Would you say it's worth the trouble of taking the lower route (by the creek) up to Argentine Pass? I've heard it's rougher than the upper route, but if it is more scenic I would consider taking it.
–Nathan (06/06/2018)
–Jen & JD Marshall (06/06/2018)

Writer Information

Jen & JD Marshall

Mapping Crew - Colorado

Jen & JD moved to Colorado from Chicago in May of 2015 for work and brought with them a 2001 stock Jeep Wrangler that had been garage bound for two years. Within a month of arrival, all rusty 170,000 miles of it was shaking on Colorado trails and they've never stopped. As time as gone on, their 2001 TJ had to be traded and a 2015 Jeep JK has been added to the family. JD works as a Systems Engineer for a cable company and Jen runs a business from their home during the week to pay the bills. When the weekend hits, they're almost always hitting the trail. When Sunday night rolls around, the question turns to, 'so what's next week?!'.
For individual use only, not to be shared.