Saints John

Montezuma, Colorado (Summit County)

Last Updated: 09/12/2021
4.7 / 5 ( 23 reviews )
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Information
Nearby Trails
Status: Open
Typically Open: 05/20 - 11/23
Length: 7.3 miles
Highest Elevation: 12320 feet
Duration: About 2 hours
Shape of Trail: Straight Through
Best Direction to Travel: North
Nearest Town: Montezuma
Nearest Town w/ Services: Keystone
Official Road Name: FS 275
Management Agency: White River National Forest
District: Dillon Ranger District
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Highlights

Highlight: Saints John
First, yes, it is Saints John, not Saint Johns. Keep reading to learn why. This 4WD trail runs along high alpine ridge lines for several miles with spectacular 360-degree views. And lest you get bored, there is a couple of white-knuckle hill climbs to keep things interesting. The north end of the trail drops down into the forest below making its way into the tiny town of Montezuma. In 1863, John Coley made the first silver strike in Colorado. He founded the boom town of Coleyville. However, in 1867, a group of wealthy Free Masons bought up much of the area claims, renaming the town Saints John for the two patron saints of the Free Masons: Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist. Thus Saints (plural) John. The current 4WD trail follows the route once taken by ox or mule-driven ore carts hauling the mined ore over the Continental Divide and down the Swan River Valley to the mills and rails in Breckenridge. The mines of Saints John produced silver until the 1950s. Now, feel free to correct everyone you meet who will probably call this Saint Johns. (Full disclosure: The author was one of those people until 2016.)

Video

Weather

7 day forecast for Saints John

Route Information

Technical Rating

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Waypoints

1. Southern Trailhead (0 mi)
The southern trailhead makes a three-way intersection with Deer Creek (north) and Middle Fork Swan River (south).

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 39.520867, -105.868970

Starting Point: Keystone

This description covers Saints John from south to north making the two big hills climbs rather than descent. It begins at the three-way intersection with Deer Creek and Middle Fork Swan River. Follow either of these trails to their end point to begin Saints John as described. Or you can connect from nearby Radical Hill or North Fork Swan River. To run the trail from north to south, from US 6 at Keystone, take CR 5, Montezuma Road, east for 4.9 miles to the tiny village of Montezuma. Continue straight through town to an intersection where a sign indicates Saints John to the right (west).

Camping

Dispersed

Trail Reviews (33)

Author: Official Crew
Social Media:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Great day today! NO SMOKE! The great views are back (for now). The fall color is just started to peek out. The willow brush is pretty much all turned. Aspens are just ramping up. The rain and hail caught up to us at about 3pm at WP 4 and stayed with us all the way to the end. But the trail is in great shape.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Super easy trail. We came from radically hill. Amazing views and very stock friendly
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Fun trail with great views at the top. Ran in stock 2-door JK from Montezuma to Middle Fork. Cell reception is very sparse on the Montezuma side but I was able to get service running between the peaks.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Fun ridge runner trail. Ran from Radical Hill to Montezuma. Rating is accurate and there are a couple of spots on the hill climb that are a little more challenging but over all a nice but rocky trail.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran trail again today. This time starting at Montezuma. Once again amazing views! Super sad to see where careless people have damaged the tundra again rather than drive the bumpy rocks. Fresh deep muddy tracks. You can see some of this in the distance in my last photo. :/ Daughter did trip in her stock 4Runner with careful tire placement. Tight tippy spot on one descent to avoid giant rock (not pictured). I disagree that this is a "relatively easy" route. You will need good driving skills and/or a spotter in a couple of the sections.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
AMAZING!! The best trail run I've ever done! Amazing views! Fun trail! Wildlife! A couple of water crossings! The upper section of the steep hill between waypoints 2 and 3 was steep, rocky and loose. But that was the hardest part of the entire trip and I believe doable in a stock SUV with low range and reasonable ground clearance. BEST PART? Rocky Mountain Goats! A whole herd (flock?) of them!
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
I ran Saints John trail on Sunday with a friend. She has a 2017 Jeep Rubicon recon on 35s. We went up deer creek to the top of teller mountain 12,625 feet. From there we could see people on top of redcone and rigs at Webster pass. After that we went to middle swan trail but the weather was looking bad. It was snowing, hail and raining that day. We decided to head toward saints john. My friend pushed her skills on the steep hills in her rig I was so proud of her that day. It was her first time out this season. We had a blast on saints john what a amazing area. I will be back.
Author: Official Crew
Social Media:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Wet, sloppy day. Rain, sleet, and patches of sun. Trail is open through.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Only ran from Montezuma SB to the rock ledge seen in waypoint #4. Was riding solo in a little trail width SXS, no lift or a-arm extensions, so didn't feel like risking it going too far. Road was rocky, completely manageable. High clearance stock 4x4s (Xterras, Wranglers, 4-Runners, Tacos) should be fine long as you don't act foolish. Some slopes were a little steep, but even a quad should be fine here with an experienced rider with no issues. Minimal traffic on the mountain, saw 3-4 other SXSs, couple of Jeeps, nothing else. Weirdly quiet for being that close to Denver in perfect weather on a weekend. If you OHV it from Montezuma, MVUM suggests you have to go a half mile up Saints John road before it's "legal," though I saw other people who just unloaded at the edge of town. There are a couple of large generous turnoffs on the switch backs you can park and drop ATVs once you're in the legal area. First half is pure alpine forest, really nice. Then once you're above the treeline it's full on tundra. It was ~60F for temps, but soon as the wind picked up I ended up throwing a flannel over my tank. Lots of great places with 360 degree views you can pull over, drop some chairs, and chill out if you don't mind the wind. As mentioned, please don't go off trail or mess with the collapsed mine ruins.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran this south to north. Spectacular views from this trail. The hill climbs at WP 3 & 4 were easy driving, but spooky (blind summit!) for a novice like myself. My favorite trail so far.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
We took the family up this loop in a 2020 Toyota TRD Venture edition with a 2.5" lift (at this time) and it did great. We did the Saints John/ Deer Creek loop and it was breathtaking. You really can't buy that kind of entertainment. The first section by the cabins is rocky but it's to be expected., the switchback section going to the top is fun. There is one or two sections at the top where you are descending at a steep pitch with sharp corners at the bottom but isn't that why you offroad? This whole area (Montezuma) is awesome, take a couple hours and enjoy.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Probably my new favorite trail to date. Camped out at 11,300ft. Amazing views even with the smoke. Connected to middle fork swan and SOB hill. Great day!
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran the Deer Creek trail from Montezuma south. Ran the Saints John trail from south to north in a stock 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Trail was dry, and we didn't see any wild life. Nothing was too difficult. Deflated tires to 20 psi. My Jeep handled the challenging sections without issue. The worst part of the trail was after you enter the tree line before Montezuma. Trail was quite rocky. It was more of a nuisance than challenge. Fun loop. Fantastic views. Few others on the trail. Recommended.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Drove this 8/2 with Stock 2019 Tacoma SR. Started from Middle Fork Swan River. Really good hill climb. Lots of fun with good views.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
The trail is now completely clear, from beginning to end. Awesome views at the top, though it's a bit rocky coming down into Montezuma, so watch your speed and lines. Ran into a herd of mountain goats near the trailhead, which was super cool. Great trail overall!
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Overall a good trail, but due to some trail washout, it was slightly more challenging than I initially anticipated, otherwise, tons of amazing views!
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Trail is blocked by a big snow field at the top. Will be a while before it melts. Photo is coming from North Fork of Swan River. Also, don’t be like whoever tried driving through it. Cut your losses and turn around before instead of through the snow.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Did Saints John to Deer Creek in a stock 2008 FJ. Didn’t have a problem, but needed to take it nice and slow at times. Definitely recommend this loop. Can see Mount of the Holy Cross and plenty more from up top.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Trail is clear as others have said . The views are a must see that's for sure. We did it in 2 lifted subarus . Ran the trail back down deer creek trail . All tho . I do not recommend .trying to take a stock subaru anynear this area ;)
Author: Official Crew
Social Media:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Drove up Deer Creek and Down Saints John today. The snowbank on the high tundra has receded and the trail is clear. The tracks out on the tundra are bad, but hopefully, they are dispersed enough that they will heal soon.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Started the trail out of Montezuma. Trail was completely clear and open. Had a great time and no issues in a stock 2017 Wrangler JKU.
Author:
Status: Impassable
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Started this trail from the top side and quickly found a large lingering snow drift blocking the trail. I saw 6 people drive around it and clearly enough people have driven around the snow drift that the illegal detour area is all torn up now. Please do not drive around snow drifts! It tears up the environment and the forest service closes roads because of it! Technically this trail is still impassible unless you break the law and drive around the snow between waypoints 1 and 2. Please refrain from doing so. (Trail is on the left in picture).
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Nice drive, the one rock shelf is a little tricky but it looks worse than it really is from below. If you take a short detour onto Middle Swan Fork you get on top of the mountains and get some amazing views! Cool mines. The colors are pretty bleak in late-September.
Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Love this trail! Views are epic and there is something peaceful about being above timberline almost the entire trail. Keep your camera ready for frequent mountain goat sightings.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran this on the 4th of July in a stock 4Runner Off-Road. Started in Montezuma up Sts. John road and then connected with Deer Creek to make a loop. Great drive that I was able to complete with no issues in the stock truck. There was one section on the big downhill (big uphill in this description) at the top that was a little difficult and maybe I wish I would have had rock sliders for, but with a careful line and taking it slow we were able to get through it. 100% open, only ran into about 5 other vehicles.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Open and 100% snow free. Really beautiful day today. One other truck up there.
Author: Official Crew
Social Media:
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Summit County has had a couple of snow storms now. Most trails that go above treeline are blocked with snow.
Author: Official Crew
Social Media:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
We took our SxS up North Fork and looped around Saints John, Deer Creek, and Middle Fork. I guess since school has started the crowds are winding down. We only saw a handful of SxS's and and two trucks the whole day. Even with some recent rain, the trails are pretty dry and sometimes dusty. Afternoon storms rolled in and made us nervous about lightning, but we only got a few sprinkles of rain. Over all, a great day!
Author: Official Crew
Social Media:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Trail was open end to end and we ran this after running Hunkidori Mine. The views on this trail were breath-taking and Jen drove up above 12,000 feet for the first time. Great day on the trail.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Trail is open. Wet in a few places. Great ride.
Author: Official Crew
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Out of Montezuma, reports are that the road is open for a couple miles and then you run into avalanche debris. I did not verify these reports. Coming from North Fork, there is a very large snow field across the entire trail just after waypoint 2. The snow is very slushy and less than a foot deep, so I wouldn't expect it to last more than a week or 2.
Author: Official Crew
Social Media:
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
We visited the northern (Montezuma) end of the trail. Another foot of snow was added last week. Snowmobilers have packed the snow pretty well, but I think it's deceiving. There's a fairly firm crust, but if you break through, there's a good 1-3 feet of soft stuff underneath. There were tracks about 20 yards in where someone did just that and looks like they had a tough time getting back out. I wouldn't try it.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
This was the first trail we did on our trip, upon arriving in Colorado. We camped along this trail near a gorgeous lake. This trail has varying degrees of difficulty, but it is easy enough for a beginner to do as long as they go slow and ride the brakes when going downhill along some of the switchbacks. You pass several deserted mines and if you're lucky enough, you'll see a lot of wildlife.

Questions & Answers (7)

Q: Just curious why there's no "Scenic" icon under the title of this trail if, in the description it states, "....with spectacular 360-degree views.?" I'm thinking of doing the Saints John/Deer Creek loop this August with 3 Honda Rancher ATVs. I almost missed this one. Thought it comparatively scenic from the video. Thanks.
–steve michael stefany (06/12/2020)
–Trint Ladd (06/13/2020)
Q: I'm looking to bring a Can-Am Maverick X3 up to this region to use on the trails in and around Keystone and Montezuma. Trying to understand if either a 64" or 72" wide version would have and advantage or disadvantage on these trails? Can all of these trails support a 72" wide machine?
–bminor (01/19/2020)
–Trint Ladd (01/20/2020)
Q: Could you clarify the permit requirement mentioned above? Saints John is a Forest Service road classified on the current MVUM as a "Road Open to All Vehicles" and it is not on the list of full-size trails requiring OHV permits for plated vehicles. Why is it listed as requiring an OHV permit?
–Patrick McKay (07/29/2019)
–Trint Ladd (07/29/2019)
Q: Any updates on how Saints John is doing? We've heard someone say you can get up to the first switchbacks from the Montezuma end. Any update on this trail and some of the adjoining ones would be great! Thanks! :)
–Shawna (07/09/2019)
–Trint Ladd (07/09/2019)
Q: What is the duration for the full loop (saints John and deer creek) starting from the northern trailhead bear Montezuma Thanks
–Jeff (06/29/2018)
–Trint Ladd (06/29/2018)
Q: any idea when this will open?
–Colin (06/05/2018)
–Colin (06/22/2018)
–Trint Ladd (06/05/2018)
Q: My wife isn't big on the heights and cliffy stuff but can handle it in small chunks. Would you say the majority of this is similar to Kingston Peak in terms of trail width? Not lots of shelves and cliffs for example.
–JD Marshall (05/18/2017)
–Trint Ladd (05/18/2017)

Writer Information

Trint Ladd

Mapping Crew - Colorado

Trint grew up riding dirt bikes in the creek beds of the Texas Panhandle. While attending college in Colorado in the late 1990's, he saw a magazine article about a Ford Explorer four-wheeling club. He never saw his Explorer as an adventure vehicle before, but quickly joined up and caught the bug. With his engineering background, Trint has always respected the factory design of a good truck (and recognized when manufacturers put cheap parts into something marketed for off road use). "A good driver, with a well built, stock truck can do trails that would break a $50k, built-up rig with an inexperienced driver." He put that 1st gen Explorer though hell and it always held up, earning great respect from the "big dawgs" in the club. (And earning the nickname, "The Idiot Stocker.") The truck was christened "BamBam" because of the frequent sounds ringing out from the factory skid plates. Now that Trint is "grown-up" (quotation marks intentional), he's a bit less inclined to dent up his pretty Toyota Tacoma, but still feels the same way about superior engineering. Trint's love for the mountains was ingrained at a very early age. 8mm film exists of 18-month-old Trint in a backpack on his dad's back while riding dirt bikes through the mountains of Red River, NM. Although Trint does enjoy a good, tough, technical rock trail, he can often be found on easier, winding, Alpine roads just taking the glory of God's country.
For individual use only, not to be shared.