Rollins Pass West

Winter Park, Colorado (Gilpin County)
Last Updated: 08/02/2018
4.5/5 (2 reviews)
Information
Nearby Trails
Status: Seasonal Closure
Difficulty: 2-4
(EASY)
Length: 16 miles
Highest Elevation: 11778 feet
Duration: About 2 hours 30 minutes
Shape of Trail: Out & Back
Best Direction to Travel: N/A
Nearest Town: Winter Park
Nearest Town w/ Services: Winter Park
Official Road Name: 149
Management Agency: Sulfur Ranger District
District:
Distance:
Showing 0 trails

Highlights

Highlight: Rollins Pass West

The drive up Rollins Pass gets increasingly rewarding the higher up you drive. You begin in aspen forests and there are many other trails that you pass on your way up. There are a few scenic overlook areas that give you great panoramas even before you get to the first trestle which you can view from below and stop right next to. You also have a beautiful panoramic view to the north when you encounter the first trestle, and you are nearing tree-line. As you continue to climb, you will see mountain ranges to the south, west and north. There are alpine lakes that are a short hike off of the path, as well as the Continental Divide Trail. Continue past the parking lot on the Boulder Wagon Road to reach the end of the motor vehicle route. You can hike to the historic Needle's Eye Tunnel (which is blocked and closed, do not enter the tunnel). There are a few more historic train trestles along the north face of the mountain and you can hike around to see them. Do not get close or walk on the trestles, they are not safe.

Video

Route Information

Technical Rating: (2-4)
(EASY)

Rutted and/or rocky road. No shelves but rocks to 9". Water crossings usually less than hub deep. Passable mud. Grades moderate, up to 15 degrees. Side hill moderate up to 15 degrees. 4WD under most conditions. No width problems, vehicle passing spots frequently available if less than two vehicles wide.

Read more about our rating system

Description

Rollins Pass West is a seasonal county road that has gone by other names throughout the past such as: The Moffat Road, Corona Pass, and the Hill Route. For the majority of the route, the trail is a one to two vehicle wide road that is a little rough. There are ruts, bumps, dips and cuts across the road from weather. It is a seasonal trail that is accessible by motor vehicles from 6/15-11/15 (Dates are approximate depending on weather and trail conditions). Self guided auto tour brochures of the trail are available at various businesses in Winter Park and Rollinsville. When dry, the road can be traveled in most vehicles with good ground clearance to navigate the small ruts, potholes and rocks. There are some areas of the trail that are smooth, but for the most part it is a rough road. When the road is wet or snow covered, high clearance 4wd is recommended. As you near the end of the trail you will be on shelf roads with very long drops. If you continue down the NFSR 501.1 trail (Waypoint 7) to get closer to the Needle's Eye Tunnel, the road becomes slightly more difficult and is VERY rocky and bumpy for the majority of the rest of the trail. [Sulphur Ranger District Road Status](http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/arp/recreation/?cid=stelprdb5308972) [Colorado MVUM Download Link](http://staythetrail.org/content.aspx?page_id=22&club_id=266593&module_id=224600) Emergency Information Winter Park Police Department - 79050 Main St, Winter Park, CO 80842 (970) 722-7779 Grand County Sheriff's Office - 670 Spring St, Parshall, CO 80468 (970) 725-3343 Sulphur Ranger District Office - 9 10 Mile Dr, Granby, CO 80446 (970) 887-4100 East Grand Community Clinic and Emergency Center- 145 Parsenn Rd, Winter Park, CO 80482 (970) 726-4299

Waypoints

1. Trailhead

Turn north onto Corona Pass Rd/County Rd 80/FS149 from US 40. This is the trailhead. There is a sign as you turn onto the road that has information about The Moffat Road "Hill Route".

2. County Road 81 Intersection (3.5 mi)

Intersection of County Rd 80/Corona Pass Rd/NFSR 149 going southeast/west, and County Rd 81/NFSR 128 going southwest/northeast, and an unnamed trail going northwest. If heading to the pass, continue on County Rd 80/Corona Pass Rd/NFSR 149 and go southeast. If heading to US 40, continue on County Rd 80/Corona Pass Rd/NFSR 149 and go west.

3. NFSR 149.5I Intersection (6.3 mi)

Intersection of County Rd 80/Corona Pass Rd/NFSR 149 going southeast/northwest, and NSFR 149.5I going west/east-southeast. If heading to the pass, continue on County Rd 80/Corona Pass Rd/NFSR 149 and go southeast. If heading to US 40, continue on County Rd 80/Corona Pass Rd/NFSR 149 and go northwest.

4. NFSR 149.5B Intersection (6.9 mi)

Intersection of County Rd 80/Corona Pass Rd/NFSR 149 going north/west, and NFSR 149.5B going southeast. If heading to the pass, continue on County Rd 80/Corona Pass Rd/NFSR 149 and make a sharp left turn to go north. If heading to US 40, continue on County Rd 80/Corona Pass Rd/NFSR 149 and make a sharp right turn to go west.

5. Hiking Trail to Riflesight Notch Trestle (10.2 mi)

Beautiful view from the lower side of the Riflesight Notch railroad trestle. The hiking trail takes you to waypoint 6 near the east side of the trestle. The trestle is unsafe and not maintained. Do not walk under the structure or on the trestle.

6. Trestle (10.7 mi)

Beautiful up close view of the Riflesight Notch railroad trestle. The Riflesight Notch was a one-and-one-half mile loop where trains crossed over a trestle, performed a near 90 degree gradual turn to descend 150 feet, and then traveled through a tunnel underneath the trestle. From here there are beautiful views of the mountains to the north and west as well as the alpine tundra to your east that you will soon travel through. The trestle is unsafe and not maintained. Do not walk under the structure or on the trestle.

7. NFSR 501.1 Intersection (13.9 mi)

Intersection of County Rd 80/Corona Pass Rd/NFSR 149 going south, NFSR 149.5M going north, NFSR 501.1 going east. If heading to the Needle's Eye Tunnel remains, turn right to go east on NFSR 501.1. If heading to US 40, turn left to go south on County Rd 80/Corona Pass Rd/NFSR 149.

8. CDT Trail Parking Lot (13.9 mi)

Continental Divide Trail Parking lot and kiosks. Rollins Pass elevation of 11,660. Parking lot is large and there are hiking trails in the area. Please stay on trail, alpine tundra takes decades to grow back. Alpine damage is one of the reasons why the connection between Rollins Pass East and West is closed.

9. End of Trail (16 mi)

Dead end in parking lot. There is a hiking trail to the old railroad trestles at the north side of the parking lot. If you follow the road to the south, it dead ends at the blocked Needle's Eye Tunnel. There is no way to turn around and you will have to back up down the narrow shelf road. The Needle's Eye Tunnel is blocked and is not accessible. Do not climb on or enter the tunnel.

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 39.897831, -105.769501
From the south, travel north on US 40 over Berthoud Pass. From the top of Berthoud Pass, go 11.6 miles, after you pass through the Winter Park ski area, you are getting close. You will follow the brown road sign that reads "National Forest Access Corona Pass", you will turn right/north onto Corona Pass Rd/County Rd 80/NFSR 149. From the north, starting near the Winter Park and Fraser Chamber of Commerce, travel south on US 40 for 1.8 miles. You will follow the brown road sign that reads "National Forest Access Corona Pass", you will turn left/north onto Corona Pass Rd/County Rd 80/FS149. There is not much room at the trailhead to assemble a group. The entrance is directly off US 40 and immediately becomes a tight double width road.

Camping

When camping, please always make an effort to leave the campsite/trail in a better condition than you found it, just like the last campers did for you. There is dispersed camping as per the MVUM for the area. There are existing sites spread out along the road that have fire rings. There are also other trails in the area that may have more camping. [Sulphur Ranger District Dispersed Camping Information](http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/arp/recreation/camping-cabins/recarea/?recid=28512&actid=34)
Camping: Rollins Pass West

Land Use Issues

Rollins Pass is a historic landmark that is now a divided trail to the east and west with no way to legally connect the two trails. Any attempts to restore the connection between Rollins Pass East and West by Grand and Gilpin Counties are met with resistance from Boulder County and the Boulder County Ranger District. "The Boulder Wagon Road was a four-wheel-drive road that was open prior to 2008 and in good condition. Unfortunately, this road remains to this day a subject of much controversy. In 2002 the James Peak Wilderness and Protection Area Bill (a.k.a. Public Law 107-216) was passed by Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush. The Bill specifically created a narrow road corridor between the Indian Peaks and James Peaks Wilderness areas and states that if any of the affected counties (Grand, Gilpin or Boulder) request, the Secretary of the USDA will cooperate and assist with the repair of the Rollins Pass Road and until that time the attendant road (the BWR) will remain open to motorized use. Boulder County officials and the USFS-Boulder Ranger District have resisted the wording of the law and have closed the BWR. Both Grand and Gilpin Counties have made numerous written requests to the Secretary for the repair of Rollins Pass Road but to date there has been no repair of the road or the barricaded Needle's Eye Tunnel. The reopening of the BWR, and/or repair of the Rollins Pass Road, and even the facts surrounding the 1990 accident in the tunnel, have become contentious and ongoing issues." Source, [Wikipedia](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rollins_Pass) [Rollins Pass Restoration Association](http://www.moffatroad.org/RPRA/RPRA_Home.htm)

Writer Information

Brandon Marlow

Mapping Crew - Colorado
Read More


"It isn't an adventure until something goes wrong" -Yvonne Chouinard Brandon is always trying to get outdoors as much as possible, whether on a short day trip, or an extended overland trip living off of whatever he could fit in the truck. He enjoys discovering new landscapes and areas and lately picked up photography which helps to document the beauty that is just beyond the paved roads. When he is not traveling overland, or working to pay the bills, he can be found volunteering on trail days, trail cleanups or trying to keep the rubber side down while mountain biking.

Community

Questions & Answers (4)

Q: Is there a good location to stage a sxs?
–Ed friend (08/22/2018)
A: There are pull-offs or larger camping areas that would work for staging a trailer along the trail. Nothing at the beginning as it is just a road off of a highway.
–Brandon Marlow (09/30/2018)
Q: Wondering if there are good dispersed spots where we'd be able to pull a car in on level ground?
–Grace Elizabeth (06/17/2018)
A: Yes there should be enough room for a vehicle at most of the spots.
–Brandon Marlow (06/18/2018)
Q: Anyone know if it's clear of snow to the top and would be doable by a stock F150 at this time?
–Prosper Wang (06/06/2018)
A: Not sure on the snow but up to waypoint 7 a stock vehicle would be fine. After that it's probably doable but may have scraping issues.
–Brandon Marlow (06/18/2018)
Q: This guy says it's under seasonal closure. Has it already been boarded up for the season? Thanks!
–Jen & JD Marshall (09/22/2017)
A: Not yet, still open today Sept. 30, 2017. Just went up there.
–Patrick Wilson (09/30/2017)

Trail Reviews (4)

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Amazing views and history. Guide is spot on.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Great trail that starts in winter park. The scenic views of the last 1/3 of trail makes up for the washboard roads. Some of the ruts are deep, hard to believe cars were trying this road, even in July. Account for an hour of hicking at top. You wont be disappointed. Dress accordingly. In July, was 59 and windy. Drove in bone stock 4runner

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
went out for a day trip got most of the way up there were spots covered in snow but passable a few fallen trees across the road but they were cut to allow half of the road useable. alor of bumps not nothing major. i got to the top of the bridge and made an attemp to continue from there but i got stuck in the snow on the road after that so i had to stop there. it was a nice drive up just a little chilly. i drove up in a 2009 chevy suburban 1500

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Drove up to the first parking lot near Mount Epworth. Several cars coming up and down, but plenty of room to pass. Area was smokey from the fires around the country, but temperature was comfortable.Road was mostly dry with the occasional drainage and a couple of puddles.