Saxon Mountain Road

Georgetown, Colorado (Clear Creek County)

Last Updated: 09/18/2021
4.5 / 5 ( 20 reviews )
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Information
Nearby Trails
Status: Open
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.
Read more about our rating system

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 (30)

Author: Official Crew
Social Media:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
This trail is received a complete rewrite that is now live, including an update to the difficulty. These three Waypoints were collected, but are being retired before publication because volunteers have fixed them and made them passable for all vehicles.
This trail guide's difficulty was changed on 09/17/2021
Author:
Status: Open
Difficulty Accuracy: Easier
Offroaded on:
Rating:
This is a great trail with a lot of nice views. Ran it from Georgetown over to Cascade creek and out Idaho Springs in a 2012 4runner. I ran it in early June 2021 before any of the cleanup work had been done and there were a few obstacles that made for some real challenges. Went back yesterday and all those obstacles have been taken away. The trail is definitely over rated at 7-7. There are a few cutoff's that might be worthy of a 7, but the main trail is now a 4 or 5.
Author:
Social Media:
Status: Open
Difficulty Accuracy: Easier
Offroaded on:
Rating:
We went up Saxon and down Lamartine in a mostly stock Expedition XLT. There are certainly some sketchy spots and the crux of the route (just before the switchback overlook) is precisely as narrow as my car is wide. Made it through without issue, just had to take it slower in some sections. Not much else to add to previous reviews. There is a crew working on those summit AT&T towers that is also camping next to them. They're friendly folks that have been up there sine mid-August 2021, end date yet to be determined. Definitely say hi if you see them.
Author:
Social Media:
Status: Open
Difficulty Accuracy: Easier
Offroaded on:
Rating:
I'm glad the trail was repaired and allowed to re-open, my only comment is on it's current 7-7 rating. Saxon used to carry a 4-5 rating prior to 2021. We ran it twice with its 7-7 rating prior to the recent repairs and once after. In our opinion, the 7-7 rating was inflated even during its worst condition this year. With the recent repairs and changes, experienced high-clearance stock 4x4s should be able to navigate this trail without difficulty. The squeeze sections have been significantly widened and many medium-large boulders removed. Suggest dropping it to a 4 or 5 at most.
Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
CORE removed several unsafe boulders as part of the county agreement for maintenance to keep this trail open. Fun day but really smoky. Trail is open and in good shape.
Author: Official Crew
Social Media:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
The trail is open again after a few boulders causing major safety concerns were addressed by the trail caretakers. Additional work will be done in the coming weeks by volunteer groups, but the trail is open again as is. The trail should still be considered dangerous due to off-camber and blind climbs along the shelf road.
Author: Official Crew
Social Media:
Status: Temporary Closure
Offroaded on:
This trail is temporarily closed with local off-roading groups works with the county for trail repairs. The current closure is slated to last 15 days.
Author: Official Crew
Social Media:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
I ran this for the first time yesterday, starting in Georgetown. While there isn't anything that's going to test your rig really hard, this trail is dangerous. There are a number of spots that are narrow, a shelfy climb over off-camber sections, and more. This trail should be considered Severe until/if maintenance is done to clear some of these rockslides.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran this one top to bottom. Has definitely gotten more technical as the trail has degraded. The trail is pretty much rocks top to bottom with several slides that get off camber and in some places pretty tight. Not sure you could get a full size truck up it. There are some awesome views from it and kind of fun to sit at the bottom and look up and see that the trail disappeared.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
There are a few narrow spots on this trail but it's not as bad as I expected running it backwards from the top down. Running it this direction allows you to see all the lower switchbacks and potential traffic. Fun trail as we came up from Cascade creek which was more difficult. Great day!
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Great trail, as always, but it seems to be degrading by the year. I'd argue this is no longer a "moderate" trail due to the handful of obstacles where a stock vehicle is likely to incur damage even with a good spotter. I'd highly recommend a lift, larger tires, and rock rails to safely navigate the back-to-back rock obstacles. The 4-Players of Colorado is the group that was happy to help Jose and crew get over the handful of obstacles. With a little bit of instruction and carefully-placed tires, they crushed it!
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
This one got a little harry. Rocky from the beginning. Came up here on stock FJ, Tacoma, and 4runner. Me and my group are beginners at this so we had a little trouble getting over big boulders, we had to pile up rocks on side of boulders to make ramps. We had the most difficulty getting tacoma and 4runner over boulders. Tacoma because its weelbase and 4runner because it had running boards. Lucky for us a nice group of experts on Jeeps showed up to share their knowledge and help. Not sure what Jeep club it was but thanks a million! In the end we got to the top and had lots of fun and got great views and pictures. Great trail.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Ran this about 2 weeks back in my Cherokee along with a couple other trails in the area. Full width guys, take note: My Cherokee is on full width axles and is 84" wide. The narrow rock section mentioned in the description? Fairly terrifying. I would not try this in a vehicle this wide without a spotter to gauge your clearance around that rock. We failed to get video/photos of that section, but my driver side tires were pretty close to the edge of the road. Hard to tell if it's well packed or about to collapse there. As well, the rock-fall sections immediately afterwards are a very tight squeeze. If you have multiple people, get someone to walk ahead and hold downhill traffic at the turn after the rockfall section. Neither of you will want to reverse once you're in there. Good views, fun trail, not for those with fear of heights. Take caution if you're in a fullsize rig.
Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Came up from Georgetown. Didn't see any other vehicles, just hikers. The road has a ton of rock fall leaving randomly placed large boulders throughout. I think it has drastically increased the difficulty. I'd recommend large tires for this trail, and any pickup trucks with running boards BEWARE! I hit snow at 11,000' with some big drifts across the road. No one had made tracks on them yet. I was able to bust through them completely. Even cleared a downed tree from the trail. Once I cleared the trail to waypoint 9, there were some tracks on the remainder of the road. They were old tracks so could have been vehicles on tracks. I'm not sure. Either way, continued on with very little issue. Maybe 1 remaining drifts caused me to hit it a couple of times, but otherwise made it to the top of Saxton Mtn just fine. I have 40" tires, so the drifts will probably need a few days to melt down for vehicles on tires smaller than that, but otherwise this trail is open for the season!
Author: Official Crew
Social Media:
Status: Impassable
Offroaded on:
This trail is located at a higher alitude of Colorado and at this time of year should be considered impassable for any regular off-road user. Some people may be able to manage these trails with the correct gear, emergency equipment, and rig. Travel with caution.
Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Stage 3 fire restrictions have been lifted as of 6am, 11/10/20. The forest is no longer fully closed. Areas within fire perimeters remain closed. See closure maps here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/arp/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD844558 Expect winter conditions on trails. Some trails may be impassable due to snow.
Author: Official Crew
Social Media:
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:
Rating:
Ran from Georgetown up and over to Idaho Springs in stock JK and Xterra. Tight around the rockslides and had to stack rocks in a couple places to get through without tapping the rocker panels but it was a fun day run overall.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Nothing is particularly challenging about this trail. HOWEVER! What a rush with that cliff. It is scary near the rock slide section. Plenty of scars on rocks from people hitting them. It is narrow. Best to run on a weekday. We ran it starting from Cascade Creek. Beautiful views but narrow and bouncy. One obstacle was a bit challenging but nothing good tire placement couldn't handle.
Author:
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Dry as a bone right until the top right around waypoint eight. A stock Xterra and Tacoma were able to get up there just fine. Half of the trail past waypoint 8 is exposed with the other half a deep snow embankment. Should be ready by Memorial Day. Turns out Clear Creek County does not allow traffic on any county roads until further notice due to Covid. There were a lot of people on this one but I don’t know if we were supposed to be or not.
Author:
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Made it roughly 2 1/2 miles in on a 2-up quad w/ oversized tires. Saw a stock RZR make it up, and turn around. I went about 1/4 mile further into deep snow following ruts from what looked like a tracked SXS, then drifts got closer to 3' and weren't worth the fight to get any more along. Definitely a few more weeks of melting needed. Beautiful views, a few tight points with boulders in the trail definitely would make it tricky for large full-sized trucks. ATVs and smaller trucks/SUVs should be fine with careful placement.
Author:
Status: Not Reported
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Saxon Mountain is one of my favorites, but also one I only do occasionally. Definitely a moderate trail, but the pucker factor is huge for me on this. I first did it in 2014 when the rock slides were fresh and way worse than they are now, but they still make me cautious. In reality, now, they’re decent, but still a bit unnerving. I made a youtube guide here, not my best, but hopefully it shows you the trail a little, but definitely rely on trailsoffroad updates for this one. I’m likely not going to run it this summer.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
We drove from Idaho Springs over South Springs Gulch to intersect Saxon Mountain Road and drove it into Georgetown downhill, opposite the direction in the description. We did not drive to the top of Saxon Mountain which would be the easterly quarter of the trail. The trail is mostly rocky and bumpy switchbacks on some exposed ledges. Those parts are not difficult but require the drivers full attention. Most of the switchbacks are wide easy turns but one near the top required a three point turn. There are three obstacles that need to be addressed however. The first near the top is a rocky bump with a boulder on cliff side and a rocky outcrop on hill side but side view mirror height. You'll need to negotiate between these while going over the bump. Not hard, it just requires some careful wheel positioning. A bit further down, you'll encounter a boulder that blocks the road and forces you to go around cliff side. In a stock Jeep Rubicon, it was no issue at all but we're beginners so I had my partner spot me. Again, only intimidating because of the drop off. The third obstacle is half way down the hill where you'll encounter a boulder pile that will force you to hug hill side and drive partially over the boulder on cliff side. Our stock Rubicon did this without any undercarriage contact but it required some spotting for wheel placement. As I said, we are beginners so take this review for what it's worth. The views from Saxon Mountain are great and mostly it's a rocky ledge road but there are a few obstacles that require negotiating.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Had the rain, hail treatment on this one. Took the rating up a notch!
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Several boulders still obscure the trail in several places so a spotter is really helpful.. We ran the trail down-hill into Georgetown (opposite direction from the intro above) and with care was able to navigate the tight spots which are many for a stock rig. There are actually 2 boulders blocking the road in separate spots and caution is certainly needed if for no other reason than to save your undercarriage. I ran this road in a stock WJ with undersized tires, and much to the surprise of the guys in their 8" Tera-Flex rock climbers, was able to navigate some very tight and steep portions while steering around them. This is a great trail with spectacular views, and barely 1/12 hours from Denver Trail Review: Saxon Mountain
Author:
Social Media:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
went up the switchbacks and down cascade creek...not packed and the few places we met people there was ample room to pass...most were hiking anyways...did in stock xj
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Drove up to the summit from Georgetown, then out to Idaho Springs via the northern stretch of Cascade Creek (Lamartine Rd). I also think the rating on this should be Moderate due to a couple of obstacles on the way up. Helped a guy in a 4x4 pickup backup and turn around when he lacked the clearance/traction.
Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
ran lamartine over to saxon and into georgetown yesterday. trail was in good condition and fairly clean. there were a few other users, but the trail is in general, not as overused as some other trails in colorado. the rock obstacles are all still in place, so you have some tight squeezes on the shelf road on saxon, but otherwise trail is easy
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
We gave this trail a try yesterday. As newer Jeep owners (1 year) with some great experiences under our belt, I would rate this trail as a very difficult blue because of some of the trickier spots on this trail. The description is very accurate, especially the part about the boulder on the road that forces you to pass next to the cliff's edge. There is absolutely no room for error and I would not attempt this trail in a larger/wider wheel base SUV. We did it in our Jeep JK and it was scary in places but then again I'm not a huge fan of narrow roads with a lot of exposure to steep drop offs. The road is extremely rocky and there are MANY switchbacks up and as mentioned in the description,the road gets much narrower as you climb up. Despite the long sometimes scary bumpy ride up, the views from the top were amazing! There are picnic tables and fire rings and great cell signal as there is a T-Mobile tower right up there at the top. If we were to attempt this one again I think we would approach it from Lamertine Rd/Spring Gulch Rd (we used this for our decend). If you want to reach the Saxon summit without the craziness that we ran into then I would recommend taking that other route to up.
Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
The trail is 100% open currently. We ran Saxton down from the top today as our exit from Spring Creek. For the first bit of the trail we were above the clouds but as we started dropping in elevation we drove through the clouds and the lower we got the more rain we ran into. It certainly was creepy driving through the clouds. Towards the top there are a handful of rock falls along the trail. A couple do squeeze you close to the edge, but we had 2 jeeps on full width axles and didn't have issues. Yes they were on the edge, but not hanging off or anything like that.

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.