Saxon Mountain Road

Georgetown, Colorado (Clear Creek County)

Last Updated: 11/15/2021
4.5 / 5 ( 20 reviews )
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Information
Nearby Trails
Status:
Impassable
Typically Open: Year Round
Difficulty: 5-5
( DIFFICULT )
Length: 7.07 miles
Highest Elevation: 11430 feet
Duration: About 2 hours
Shape of Trail: Straight Through
Best Direction to Travel: East
Nearest Town: Georgetown
Nearest Town w/ Services: Georgetown
Official Road Name: 712.1, 712.2C
Management Agency: Arapaho National Forest
District: Clear Creek Ranger District

Highlights

Highlight: Saxon Mountain Road
Colorado has many famous trails known for their heights and breathtaking views like Black Bear Pass or Red Cone. Saxon Mountain deserves to be on that list thanks to theme park-level thrills, a sprinkling of history, and your fill of Colorado mountain scenery. In the 1960s, Walter V Berry bought a significant amount of land in the area, including this mining claim. After failing to extract any valuable amounts of silver, he gifted the land to the town in 1986. Hopes that the road would be used for a tram and cultural center at the summit never materialized. It is so undeveloped that remnants of the original mining operations are still along the trail including housing and equipment. Today, the old mining road is a non-stop 4x4 climb up 20 steep switchbacks, quickly climbing 4500 feet before hitting the summit at 11,500 feet. In between these tight turns, much of the route runs along rocky and exposed shelf roads. These shelves are only wide enough for one vehicle in spots, and driving along these thousands-of-feet drop-offs can be intimidating to even the most seasoned wheeler. Those who can stomach the climb get an adrenaline rush and panoramic views into Georgetown, the I-70 corridor, and the surrounding mountains.

Video

Route Information

Advanced Rating System

Recommended Vehicle:
Lightly Modified 4X4 (Small Lift and Larger Tires)
Concerns:
Summary:
This trail gets its higher rating from the nature of the switchbacks and many areas where the shelf road is only wide enough for a single vehicle. The most intense of these areas are Waypoint 7 and Waypoint 11.

Technical Rating

MANDATORY
5
DIFFICULT
OPTIONAL
5
DIFFICULT
Rocky or undulated road surface. Potential rocks and/or tree stumps less than 24" tall and/or vertical ledges less than 24" tall and/or near vertical ledges or waterfalls less than 54" inches. Tire placement becomes more difficult. Can be steep and off-camber.
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Community Consensus

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Description

This trail is a straight-through route that runs for 6.6 miles from Georgetown, CO, to the top of Saxon Mountain overlooking the town. The rocky trail climbs over 3000 feet and has 20 switchbacks to navigate along the way. The trail has three sections that are considered obstacles, including "Hold Your Breath Hill" at Waypoint XX. The trail consists of a lot of shelf roads that are tight in a few places. The steep road is prone to rock slides during severe weather. Over the years, these rock slides have caused the trail to increase in difficulty. As of 2021, this trail is now under active management by local volunteer groups working with Clear Creek County. Volunteers worked on the trail in the summer of 2021 to remove some of the boulders causing severe danger, and work will continue by volunteer groups to mitigate various issues that have cropped up over the years and future maintenance.
Full exposure on shelf roads for the majority of the trail.

Waypoints

1. Trailhead (0 mi)
The trailhead is on the northeast side of the three-way intersection with 19th Street and Main Street.
2. Destination Sign & Private Drives - Stay Right (0.23 mi)
Stay right at this intersection with some private drives and the Old Saxon Mountain Road that leads to private properties and dead ends.
3. Small Parking Area & Switchback #1 (0.33 mi)
Follow this switchback up and past this small parking lot. This small parking area is mainly for locals and hikers who are parking at the bottom.
4. Lower Gate - Stay Straight (0.99 mi)
Stay straight past this lower gate. While Saxon Mountain is not a seasonal trail, gates are here in case the trail needs to be closed for safety purposes.
5. Campsite Spur - Stay Right (1.49 mi)
Stay right at this small spur that leads to a small campsite best suited for a single-family.
6. Old Mining Spur - Stay Left (1.88 mi)
Stay left at this intersection with an old mining spur that dead-ends after a few hundred feet.
7. Scree Pile - Caution (1.96 mi)
This is one of the shelf areas that can feel a little sketchy. This old rockslide is well worn but causes you to get very off-camber.
8. Mining Remnants (2.7 mi)
Old mining cars and piping used in mining operations are scattered on both sides of the trail here. Take only pictures if you stop to look around.
9. Mining Spur - Stay Right (2.73 mi)
Stay right past the spur road for the Anglo-Saxon Mine ruins. They are not accessible, though, blocked by a rock slide.
10. Cabin Ruins Spur - Stay Straight (3.6 mi)
Stay straight past these old cabin ruins. There is a large campsite behind these buildings that can accommodate a small group of 3-4 vehicles and a couple of families/tents.
11. Hold Your Breath Hill - Caution (4.08 mi)
Most people are talking about this obstacle when referring to this trail's danger level. This old rock slide is a breathtaking moment of driving up and over (or coming down with the town below your rig's nose), and every driver should pay attention and go slow when going over this. The rock is not typically loose, and as long as the trail is dry, there should be no issues climbing up and over or coming down this obstacle.
12. Small Camp Spur - Stay Straight (4.35 mi)
Stay straight past this small camp spur; the site can fit a family and a vehicle or two.
13. Cabin Ruins (5.05 mi)
This is another set of ruins of mining cabins. There is also enough room behind the structure for a couple of vehicles and a small group to set up a camp.
14. Lamartine Road (AKA South Spring Gulch) - Stay Straight (5.85 mi)
Stay straight past Lamartine Road (AKA South Spring Gulch). Taking this trail will lead back to Idaho Springs.
15. Old Gate - Turn Left (7.05 mi)
Turn left at this old gate that is now rusted and unused. This gate marks the technical end of the Forest Service Road. You can turn around by turning left here and making a quick loop to the summits.
16. End at North & South Summits (7.06 mi)
The trail ends with two spots to view from, the north side, and just through the trees immediately behind this spot, you can see mountain ranges to the south and an information kiosk. From here, you can pick up the trail where you came and either head back down Saxon Mountain or continuing to Lamartine Road (AKA South Spring Gulch) by turning right at Waypoint 14.

Directions to Trailhead

Starting Point: Georgetown, Colorado

From downtown Georgetown, take Rose Street east to Fifteenth Street and turn right, follow for 500 feet, turn left onto Main Street, and follow for 0.4 miles to the trailhead on the right marked with signage.

Camping

Dispersed
Camping is allowed along this road under Ordinance 4 in Clear Creek County. Those with a party of 12 or more will need to get a permit here from the Historic Public Lands Commission. Many of the established sites are noted as waypoints; the largest is at Waypoint 10 and has views into Georgetown. Addtiional camping is available on the connecting Lamartine Road (AKA South Spring Gulch) and that trail network. Paid camping is available other Clear Creek County Campgrounds including the nearby Clear Lake Campground. The moderate and tight nature of the trail means no large campers or trailers are going to be able to get in here. Those setups can find camping available at Clear Creek RV Park and at some of the other nearby Clear Creek County Campgrounds.
Camping: Saxon Mountain Road

Trail Reviews (31)

Questions & Answers (3)

Q: I have to trailer my rig. It's street legal, just won't handle driving the interstates. Is there anywhere in Georgetown where I can park my tow rig overnight while offloading and hammock camping up on Saxon Rd and connecting trails?
–Paul Sojourner (07/17/2019)
A: Around Georgetown Lake is really all I can think of unless you drop off at the start of Spring Creek.
–Ryan Boudreau (07/18/2019)
Q: How is Saxon this season? In two weeks we'll be staying in Keystone and would like to visit Mt. Evans...of course, we'll be coming from Georgetown were hoping to catch Jeep trails to get there instead of going all around on the highway. An update on those trails that go through to 103 would be great! Thank you in advance :)
–Shawna (07/03/2019)
A: The trail is 100% open.
–Ryan Boudreau (07/17/2019)
Q: the rockfall that forces you towards the ledge, roughly what waypoint is that at? I was thinking about coming up from Georgetown and exiting via waypoint #9, having completed Webster & Radical this year I think I've had enough tight ledges. thank you
–J Ranello (10/01/2018)
A: There are multiple rock falls along the switchbacks between waypoints 4 and 6.
–Ryan Boudreau (10/09/2018)

Writer Information

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.