Downieville-Lawson-Dumont, Colorado (ClearCreek) Technical Rating: 5-8
Last Updated: 04-15-2017
Argentine Pass, Barbour Fork, Bill Moore Lake, Red Elephant Hill, Devils Canyon, Trail Creek Road, Ute Creek Road, South Spring Gulch
Arapaho National Forest / Clear Creek Ranger District
Spring Creek Highlights
This off-road, rock crawling trail has become the "go to spot" for hard wheeling within a short drive from Denver. It sees very heavy traffic during the weekends, so don't expect to be on this trail alone. Traversing large boulders are the norm on Spring Creek. This trail is constantly changing as new boulders become exposed each year and old boulders find new resting spots. It starts out pretty quickly with the first obstacle named "The Wall". Without a proper line here, body damage and/or rollovers are likely. The trail climbs straight up the mountain providing spectacular views above I-70 and the surrounding mountain towns. The final switchback known as "The Hard Left" will challenge even the most modified vehicles, before you enter the premier obstacle of the trail, "The Rock Garden" which has many different routes and lines, all of which will leave your undercarriage riddled with rock-rash scars.
Technical rating: (5-8) Moderate-Difficult
Heavy rock and/or severe ruts. Rocks exceeding hub height frequent. Shelves to 12". Deep mud or uphill mud sections. Steep grades to 25 degrees and can be loose or rocky. Water crossings may exceed 30" in depth. Side hill to 30 degrees. One vehicle wide. Body damage possible. Experience needed. Vehicle Modifications helpful.
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Directions to Trailhead
From Denver, head west on I70 to Downieville exit 234 west of Idaho Springs. Take a right at the exit onto Mountain Street, and then make an immediate left onto the frontage road. Follow the frontage road west for just over a mile as it drives under the interstate. Bear left onto Alvarado Road (if you go under the interstate again you have gone too far). Once on Alvarado Road, cross the bridge and the trailhead is your first left after the bridge. At this point, the road is called Silver City Road.
Trailhead GPS Coordinates:
39° 45' 46.74"N
105° 38' 1.19"W
GPS Exchange File:
This rock crawling trail can be ran in either direction, but it is most often ran from bottom to top, starting from Alverado Road and ending on Cascade Creek. Short stretches of moderate trail connect steep and sometimes loose boulder sections. There are a number of switchbacks and one stretch of narrow shelf road, so always be on the lookout for on coming traffic, especially later in the day. Please stay on the designated route as many of the spurs were illegally created. After traversing the rock garden, there is one more switchback before you reach the top of the mountain with a large clearing where you can regroup and check your vehicles for damage. You can return to I-70 via Cascade Creek to the East, or Saxton Mountain to the West.
1: Start of Spring Creek
This is the trailhead and a good location to air down. Please do not block the entrance to air down, so other users can start the trail if you are not yet ready.
This is the bypass for the first obstacle "The Wall". Make a right here and meet up with the rest of your group above the wall if you are not comfortable with the first obstacle. It is a steep granite slab that requires good articulation. Lockers and/or a winch are highly recommended for that obstacle.
3: The Wall
This is "The Wall". Lockers are highly recomended on this obstacle. Longer wheelbase vehicles can climb the left side and center line with little, to no problems. Shorter wheelbase vehicles tend to climb the wall along the right side just before the tree. The easiest route is to the far right.
This obstacle is certain to cause a traffic jam if there are multiple vehicles on the trail, as it takes most vehicles a little bit of time to navigate. If your vehicle is struggling at the obstacle with a large crowd behind you, you will not be able to turn around and head back down to the bypass. There is simply no room for that. Please be courteous to other users after multiple attempts and aid your vehicle up the wall by winching or taking a strap from someone ahead of you.
4: Meet up with Bypass Route
At this intersection, you have rejoined with the bypass route. Turn uphill to the left to continue the trail.
If you took the bypass and did not complete the wall obstacle, turn uphill to the right to continue the trail.
5: Silver Creek Intersection
At this intersection, you have now entered Forest Service Land. As such, you will now see forest road markers on the trail. Continue uphill to the right on 712.2J.
Going to the left will allow you to enter a number of spur roads that lead to campsites, as well as 712.2H that takes you to the Silver Creek mine and ghost town.
6: Mine Shaft
While driving the narrow shelf road, you will notice an open mine shaft on your left. Please be aware, open mine shafts are very dangerous. You may be able to park a few vehicles here if you feel the need to get out of your vehicle and explore.
7: Obstacle 2
This obstacle is a pair of granite steps as you navigate a left turn. It requires good ground clearance and moderate articulation.
8: Steep Climb
To the left is a steep, loose climb that should be manageable for any high clearance vehicle. For any vehicle not wishing to attempt this climb, you can continue straight where you will soon reach a switchback that will bring you back above this hill climb.
9: Lunch Spot
At the top of the steep hill climb, you have come to a good lunch spot, this is the ideal location as it is the first clearing since the shelf road, and will be the last for quite some time. This area can accommodate a large number of vehicles and is a common lunch stop for most groups.
10: The Hard Left
This obstacle is know as "The Hard Left". If you continue going straight, the route deadends, so you must turn left here to continue the trail. Each year this obstacle changes as boulders get moved around. The most challenging line is either the far left side, or the far right side the whole way up. Most vehicles will start the turn in the center and then quickly move to the right after making the turn. There are many diff catching rocks here, so watch your tire placement. It is not uncommon for this obstacle to cause a traffic jam.
11: The Rock Garden
There are many lines and a few different routes through the rock garden, but all of them guarantee to leave some fresh trail tattoos on your undercarriage. There are no "easy" routes through the garden, and it can easily change from vehicle to vehicle.
Snow can linger in this area till late June. Please stay on established routes and do not create new routes to bypass snowdrifts.
12: Re-Group Spot
The trail levels out on the top of the hill and comes to a very wide clearing. You are past the difficult sections of the trail, and are just about at the end. This is a great location to re-group and check your vehicle for any damages you might have incurred. If you started the trail early enough, this could be a good lunch spot, or even an ideal camping spot.
Spring Creek has no seasonal gates, yet the snow can keep the trail closed till late June. Please stay the trail and do not go around snowdrifts.
Camping and Lodging
The trail starts on a mix of county and residential property for the first mile. At 1.2 miles the main trail turns right and you see the spur trail 712.2H. This is a wide open spot for camping and many of the spur roads in this immediate area have more dispersed camping. There is also very good dispersed camping at the end of the trail where it meets with Cascade Creek.
Questions & AnswersNo questions have been submitted.
Offroaded on 04-15-2017
Status: Partially Open
Low Temperature: 47° F
High Temperature: 57° F
Spring Creek partially open past the wall.
Offroaded on 03-20-2016
Status: Partially Open
Took our first trip to Spring Creek this year just after a fresh snow. The 3 days prior, the area received 4''-8'' of snow. We hit the trail and were the first ones on the fresh stuff besides one UTV that we saw later in the day.
The wet conditions on the wall made it very slick. 2 rigs made it without winching, one on 37s and the other on 40s. 2 other rigs on 35s had to winch the obstacle. We only made it to the start of the shelf road, which is only about a quarter mile west of waypoint 5. At this point, there was solid ice under the fresh snow, and it sloped towards the cliff edge, so we decided it was not safe to continue and headed up towards Silver Creek instead. Again, the snow hadn't been touched by anyone, but it was not very deep so we made it to the mine site no problem.
I would say it's going to need a few weeks of warm weather before the shelf portion is safe.