Pennsylvania Gulch

Nederland, Colorado (Boulder County)

Last Updated: 09/08/2019
4.5 / 5 ( 17 reviews )
Information
Nearby Trails
Status: Open
Typically Open: Year Round
Length: 2 miles
Highest Elevation: 9020 feet
Duration: About 1 hour
Shape of Trail: Straight Through
Best Direction to Travel: West
Nearest Town: Nederland
Nearest Town w/ Services: Nederland
Official Road Name: 95J
Management Agency: Roosevelt National Forest
District: Boulder Ranger District
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Highlights

Highlight: Pennsylvania Gulch
Pennsylvania Gulch Trail is an excellent 4wd choice to challenge new and intermediate off-road drivers. It is approximately two miles long and is one off-road trail not to miss in the area.  Most of the trails in the area can be negotiated in 2WD but Pennsylvania Gulch requires 4WD.  Pennsylvania Gulch is about the trail rather than the mountain views as it remains in the trees for its duration.  It is moderately rocky with many exposed tree roots on the trail.  The trail is uphill and narrow with only one or two places to pass so it is best taken from east to west as uphill travel will have the right-of-way.

Video

Weather

7 day forecast for Pennsylvania Gulch

Route Information

Technical Rating:
(MODERATE )

Read more about our rating system

Waypoints

1. Pennsylvania Gulch Trailhead (0 mi)
The trail begins as a narrow gravel road. The rocky and rooted portion starts about 1/2 mile to the west

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 40.035603, -105.468925

Starting Point: Switzerland Trail

Take Switzerland Trail North 3.9 miles. The Pennsylvania trailhead is on the left heading to the west.  The trail ends on Sugarloaf Mountain Trail approximately 1/2 mile from CO Highway 72.

Camping

Not allowed

Trail Reviews (25)

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Hadn’t run this in a long time. When I first started running this, maybe 6 years ago, it was pretty boring, but it was close. Now, it’s more fun as it’s run off has exposed more rock and created more off-camber situations. Views aren’t great, but it’ll be a fun little trip. Just used 4low. Vehicles with less articulation may do some three wheeling.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran this trail today in a stock Hummer H3 on 33s. A little challenging in spots due to washout. My vehicle has lockers so no issues but newbies with open diffs may have problems. Some deep holes to negotiate and tree roots. The pics on here don't even describe it!

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Ran this (and Switzerland) today in my new (to me) 2012 JKU Rubicon. It got my attention but I didn't feel a need to use the lockers. Pretty rocky in spots so it will bounce you around if you're not careful, but a fun trip and worth the drive from Denver.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran up this in a Jeep Gladiator, stock suspension, 35" BFG KM3s. The run off made it a bit more challenging than it should have been in one section where I slid back. All in all nice test for the Gladiator. Last ten seconds of the video is a short clip of the truck crawling over the initial mild section of the trail. Didn't film much on this section as my camera man (my gf) wasn't too thrilled about getting out to film :)

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran this yesterday after running back half of Switzerland. 2014 JKUR on 37". It's a bit challenging and might be difficult to do without lockers as it was a bit wet. Short trail that takes you right back to Switzerland. Good diversion from the simplicity of Switzerland.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Made it all the way in a stock Gladiator with 35s. No snow drifts across the trail but snow melt run off makes the trail a little wet.

Author:
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Awesome challenge to start the season off! Got to the snow drift a little over 3/4 of a mile from the end of the trail (heading east to west) and couldn’t make it. Had to back down a ways, so I’d advise caution in anything other than a side by side or seriously built crawler. Great trail up to that point!

Author:
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Was able to make it halfway up the trail from the bottom( Jeep xj, 33'' BFG's 30 psi). Heavy snow, may be able to be passable going down.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Just got my jeep a few weeks ago and headed up to sugar loaf mountain. Spent about 6 hours on the trails and had a blast. Didn't find this trail to difficult. Had some off camber, but nothing crazy. Little 2" steel water line came apart about half way up made me hug the cliff side and rub some branches, but not enough to scratch anything. 2015 Rubicon 5" lift with 35s. Never ran into a spot where 4WD was necessary.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
A recent report indicated that this trail has become much more difficult in recent months. I ran the trail this weekend based on that report to check for changes in its difficulty. The erosion portion of the trail, which is near the top/west, is not much different than in the past couple of years. Based on the rating system used by Trails OffRoad, the trail remains rated as a 4. This means that it is recommended that an SUV with high clearance and 4WD with a low range would be appropriate for the trail. On another note, I have also included a photo of one of the hillsides along the trail...The aspens are beginning to change.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Thanks for the update and video. So the section at point 1:03 in the newest video (black Jeep) is where you can see my big rock rut handiwork. That helped a lot...I couldn't get through without rubbing without doing that (although as I said I typically try not to alter trails unless necessary.) Ran it today with a buddy up. A little rainy and wet. I have a heavily modified 3rd Gen 4runner with 5" lift, 34's, and lockers. No issues with clearance and fun until the very top. YES THERE IS MOST DEFINITELY A HEAVILY WASHED OUT AREA UP THERE CURRENTLY. It’s the section at 5:28 in the video but is a lot worse now. I was a bit surprised after running it a year or so ago and not encountering anything like this. It raises the rating at this specific part of the trail to a 7 or so for sure and would surprise anyone looking for a new or intermediate run. My first attempt as it sat put me heavily off-camber (somewhere well past 35 degrees or so) and inches away from the side of the trail berm driver side. There was no good straddle option since the left side is so washed out it's a good 5-6’ vertical wall. Spent 30 min and stacked up rocks on the left side and got through it but it was touch and go. My buddy in his Jeep did much better with the rocks in place. I don’t usually mess with trails unless necessary but this was honestly just too washed out and hopefully our work will help others and keep the trail open. Right after that there's another big straddle wash out with some roots but that went a lot easier. After that it's laughable and you're there at the top. Be prepared though...it's a valley in that one spot. Sorry no pics was too busy trying not to cave in my drivers side door. Since this is technically a county road I’m surprised Boulder County doesn’t send a road crew up there to fix it. Just kidding. I do find it hilarious that it’s a county road though and even has its own street sign at the bottom. As for the guy who built a house up there...that must have been a lot of trips up that thing with lumber and supplies.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran this uphill with 34's. Didn't need lockers. No issues with passibility. Tiny amount of water running down and slightly muddy in spots, but mostly dry. Not particularly scenic, but still pleasant to drive. Another reviewer mentioned a heavily washed out area -- I'm not certain where that was since I didn't find any part that was exceptionally off camber or washed out.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Trail open, muddy and fun. Unfortunately quite a bit of trash in a few spots, cleared what i could. Trail not very challenging in a lifted wrangler, although it is tight.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Drove this today in my FJ100 Land Cruiser. Very fun and fairly challenging trail. Despite the lack of stunning panoramic mountain views, the scenery is pretty nice on the downhill side. It's very green with all the recent rain, and there's a nice little Aspen grove or two. We had no issues on 33's with stock suspension. It was definitely very narrow in places. Lots of trees have scars from intimate moments with passing vehicles. Around the midway point the trail was fairly wet, a tiny creek running down. I used rear lockers a couple times getting over some of the larger rocks in the wet. A little further up there was a heavily washed out area, which put us close to 30 degrees off camber toward the driver. I don't know if that's new, but I'd definitely check that off as some level of off-camber.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Fun trail, don't miss if your in the area & looking for a little more challenge than most of the other roads nearby, also much less crowded (we saw a 90's Buick cruising down Switzerland). As other have mentioned the trail is narrow almost in it's entirety so passing requires some common sense. The trail is in the trees most of the time so I knocked a star off for lack of views. Please keep in mind if you are reading other reviews that said 'no problem cruised through', their rig on 37's might be alot more capable than yours. With spotting in one area we made it through no issues, '17 Tacoma on 31's, '04 4-Runner on 33's and a Rubicon on 33's, all with mild lift. A stock truck and/or new driver would likely have a workout trying to leave the trail without scratches.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Ran Penn Gulch up to Peak to Peak HWY from Four Mile Canyon. Trail is narrow with trees that can leave scratches. There is not any snow left on the trail but the spring runoff has made it fairly muddy. Made it with no issues in 18' JLUR 2" lift and 37" tires.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Me with a stock Jeep Wrangler 4 Door with Wrangler SR-As and a buddy with a lifted Cherokee on 29s ran this right during a rain storm. It was a hell of a time and there were multiple instances where my buddy needed a spot to get through some of crazier stuff. Definitely passable with a decent driver and a good stock 4x4. The off camber stuff would definitely be sketch at the top for a new driver, but it isn't particularly difficult. It's a great time, and I would highly recommend it if you want to flex out a good 4x4! Photos of the rigs to show what we brought up, I don't have good photos of this run unfortunately!

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Made it all the way up yesterday with all 3 vehicles in our group unlocked. My 05 4Runner on 33s, a Tacoma on 35s, and a Rubicon on 35s. We did run into some snow and ice where the trail gets more technical, but it was passable.

Author:
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Made it 3/4 of the way up. Snow drift made a tough pass even locked in. You could run this trail down, but not up....yet. Until that thing melts.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Impassable
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran the trail from east to west today and made it about 2/3rds of the way through. Up until waypoint 2 was not an issue at all with only several inches of packed snow. Beyond that however, the snow is deep in the trees, its solid ice under the snow, and the constant climb uphill made for very little traction. My highly built LJ on 37s and Lockers on, with full throttle, finally had to call it quits. There is no place to turn around as the trail is extremely narrow, so if you attempt this in the snow, you better have a well built rig on big tires, and going with a group.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Drove Switzerland trail from Sugarloaf Station (waypoint 4) to waypoint 9 in a1999 Tacoma, 3 inch lift with 275 70 R17 (32 inch diameter tires). At the Pennsylvania Gulch intersection, I scouted about 1/2 mile into the trail to see what it was like. It was snow covered with a couple of short off camber sections and mild rocks. At a steep uphill section with rear lockers on, the Tacoma lost momentum and traction in the snow. I decided that was as far as I was willing to go today. I backed up about 200 yards to an area that was barely wide enough to make a 6 point turn. A place where one needs to be comfortable placing the front tires at the edge of a steep drop off. I turned around and returned to the intersection. At the intersection, a trio of Colorado 4x4 Rescue and Recovery members in their Jeeps cruised by in the opposite direction I was going. I talked to the leader. We traded trail condition info. He also mentioned, "Avoid Pennsylvania Gulch in the snow because of the narrow steep sections ...", (I agreed) "... with no place to turn around." (I didn't say anything). I recommend waiting until Pennsylvania Gulch dries out before attempting.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran this trail yesterday and had a bunch of fun. This was the first time I ran it, and we really enjoyed ourselves. I'd love to check it out in the summertime as well! It's not terribly snowy, but the "rough" section of the trail has a ton of ice and is likely impassible without a winch or lockers. I had to winch myself up at least 2-3 spots, as did the Jeep behind me. If more snow falls on the trail, I'd say it'll soon become impassible until spring.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Just ran this with a stock JLU Rubicon with normal tire pressure. Was challenging and a little snowy but definitely rewarding and fun. I'll be visiting this trail again.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Passable in my stock JKU with stubby bumper (top was off and no passengers). No war wounds, but a little wet/muddy with the melting snow. Definitely a couple questionable moments. I'll wait until I have a winch before I do it again, just in case. My buddy dented up a few plates on the bottom of his Willy's. Best to go west on the trail so you head uphill, as indicated in the description. Gnarly trail, and highly recommended for a fun run!

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
With limited snow fall this season, Pennsylvania Gulch is passable without too much difficulty. Because much of the trail is shaded, the trail is snow packed and icy. The warmer weather today melted the snow enough to allow for some traction. A spring storm will, however, make the trail nearly impossible to negotiate.

Questions & Answers (1)

Q: What does snow on this trail increase the rating to?
–Joel Booth (12/19/2017)
–Matt (01/23/2018)
–Tim Palmer (12/21/2017)

Writer Information

Tim Palmer

Mapping Crew - Colorado

Tim lives and works in Northern Colorado. He has owned and driven 4X4 vehicles his entire adult life including Jeeps, pick ups, ATVs and UTVs. After high school, Tim's first 4X4 was a 47 Willy's CJ-2A with a flat 4 and a 6-volt electrical system. Typically wheeling in Northern Colorado or Southern Wyoming, Tim loves being in the mountains and the back country. Because of a desire to enjoy and promote responsible off-roading and to keep it available for the future, he belongs to a local 4X4 off-road club. Being part of the Trailsoffroad.com community furthers that goal as well. A love for off-road adventures, camping, fishing, and hunting keeps Tim away from pavement and always exploring. While his wife likes the comfort of a Jeep Grand Cherokee, Tim prefers the ruggedness of the Jeep Wrangler. Although most off-road time is spent in Colorado and Wyoming, an occasional trip to the Moab area is common. Tim will spend the summer going topless and enjoying the value of the great outdoors. Amateur Radio Technician license call sign: ke0npg
For individual use only, not to be shared.