Bald Mountain Gulch

Johnson Village, Colorado (Chaffee County)

Last Updated: 07/28/2019
4.7 / 5 ( 14 reviews )
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Information
Nearby Trails
Status: Open
Typically Open: Year Round
Difficulty: 3-3
( MODERATE )
Length: 8.8 miles
Highest Elevation: 9337 feet
Duration: About 1 hour, 15 minutes
Shape of Trail: Other Shapes
Best Direction to Travel: West
Nearest Town: Johnson Village
Nearest Town w/ Services: Johnson Village
Official Road Name: 300
Management Agency: San Isabel National Forest
District: Salida Ranger District
Distance:
Showing 0 trails within 2 miles

Highlights

Highlight: Bald Mountain Gulch
Bald Mountain Gulch (FS Road 300) is a 4WD road in the Fourmile area of Colorado, southeast of Johnson Village. Bald Mountain Gulch traverses scenic, high elevation terrain in a northeast to southwest track. It provides the 4x4 enthusiast spectacular rock formations and sandy terrain, plus occasional tawny rock-framed views of the Collegiate Peaks. There are numerous 4WD roads in the vicinity, making Fourmile an ideal destination for a weekend of 4x4 trails, camping, hiking, and fishing. Bald Mountain Gulch is recommended to drive in conjunction with Bald Mountain Loop.

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Weather

7 day forecast for Bald Mountain Gulch

Route Information

Advanced Rating System

Recommended Vehicle:
Stock SUV with High Clearance and 4 Low
Concerns:
Summary:
There are no significant obstacles but the track does include some camber, ascents, and descents.

Technical Rating

MANDATORY
3
MODERATE
OPTIONAL
3
MODERATE
Typically, more rock or undulated road surface. Potential rocks and/or tree stumps less than 12" tall and/or vertical ledges less than 12" tall and/or near vertical ledges or waterfalls less than 24" inches. Tire placement becomes more difficult. Can be steep.
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Community Consensus

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Description

The northeast segment is generally dirt road with patches of bedrock traversing open meadows and mixed forest. The mid-section transitions to a broad sandy wash and becomes narrower in the southwestern segment. Driving southwest, the final mile departs the wash and traverses caliche hills with a relatively steep descent into the parking lot at the Brown’s Canyon Wilderness Study Area. This road is suitable for stock, high clearance 4WD vehicles.

Waypoints

1. Trailhead (northeast) Bald Mountain FS 300 (0 mi)
Turn into the parking lot where you see the well-marked sign and the information kiosk. Steer left past the information kiosk and proceed south/southwest.
2. Unmarked Road (0.5 mi)
The unmarked road is a shortcut. Where the main road goes straight then right, this shortcut climbs over exposed bedrock and ties-back to the main road in 300 yards.
3. Unmarked Road (0.7 mi)
This is where the shortcut returns to the main road. Continue on the main road toward the south/southeast.
4. Mine Spur Intersection (1.5 mi)
Stay to the left on the main road. The mine spur goes off to the right (west).
5. Intersection Trail 1423 (1.9 mi)
Steer left to proceed on the main road. Trail 1423 is a restricted-use trail.
6. Cattle Guard (2.8 mi)
Continue straight over the cattle guard. This is the first of several you will encounter. The cattle guards appear to have recently been emplaced (replacing gates).
7. Intersection FS Road 300A (3.1 mi)
Turn left (south) in the small clearing/staging area at the trailhead of FS Road 300A.
8. Second Cattle Guard (3.4 mi)
Proceed straight across the cattle guard.
9. Camping Ridge (3.8 mi)
Continue straight over the camping ridge. This a high-elevation point and there are two-track spurs to both the left and right which take you to campsites with existing fire rings. This site provides a gorgeous view of the Collegiate Peaks on clear weather days.
10. Intersection FS Road 185D (4.7 mi)
Continue straight past the intersection.
11. Third Cattle Guard (4.8 mi)
Proceed down the sandy wash across this cattle guard.
12. Bald Mountain Loop FS Road 300B (5.4 mi)
The main road continues straight, but if you have time (about 1.5 hrs) available, the Bald Mountain Loop is well worth it. The views from atop Bald Mountain are extraordinary.
13. Intersection Trail 1434 (6.1 mi)
Continue straight past the intersection with Trail 1434; like the previous 1400-series trail, this one is a limited-use trail.
14. Intersection FS Road 300C (6.5 mi)
Continue straight past the intersection with FS Road 300C.
15. USFS Boundary (7.4 mi)
Proceed straight across the cattle guard where signs indicate you are "Leaving San Isabel National Forest".
16. Panoramic Point (8.4 mi)
Follow the road as it twists and turns, descending more sharply now. This was the first point to provide a glimpse of the Collegiate Peaks since coming down the camping ridge (WP 9).
17. End Bald Mountain Gulch FS Road 300 (8.8 mi)
Arrive at the parking lot for Brown's Canyon Wilderness Study Area and the Brown's Canyon hiking trail. FS Road 300 continues west from this point as an improved surface road.

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 38.831080, -105.987390

Starting Point: Fairplay

To drive from the northeast towards the southwest: Take U.S. 285 to Chaffee County Road 307. Follow CR 307 for approximately one mile and turn on FS Road 187 (Bassam Park) and continue about one mile until you see the marked trailhead for FS Road 300. To drive from the southwest to northeast: Take Highway 285 to Johnson Village. One-quarter mile east of Johnson Village, turn south onto Chaffee County Road (CR) 301. Follow CR 301 and turn left on CR 300 just before getting back to U.S. 285. Continue on CR 300 through the Ruby Mountain Campground; the Bald Mountain Gulch trailhead is ahead at the Brown’s Canyon Wilderness Study Area parking lot.

Camping

Dispersed
There are numerous sites suitable for dispersed camping along Bald Mountain Gulch. Recommended sites include the area near the northeast trailhead, the area around Waypoint 4, the trailhead of FS Road 300A (Waypoint 7), and the scenic ridge (Waypoint 9). The nearby and connecting roads also have suitable sites for dispersed camping. Additionally, the towns of Nathrop, Johnson Village, and Buena Vista each have commercial campgrounds with all amenities and services. For more camping information, see Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area Camping managed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Camping: Bald Mountain Gulch

Trail Reviews (21)

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Nothing too difficult with this trail and a few good camping spots throughout.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Pretty trail with awesome spur trails + camping sites. Nothing unnerving about this trail. Did it in a xterra with 32s and a 2"lift. Found a cool swing along the drive.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
I’ve previously driven the east side to Bald Mountain. Today I drove the whole trail for the first time and was surprised by the rocks around waypoints 16 and 17. They are definitely a “gatekeeper” on that end of the trail, and are a stark contrast to the rest of the trail which is mostly smooth dirt. There is one rock ledge you have to go over that’s at an angle and also on a tight turn because of a much larger boulder on the side. Although I didn’t measure, the rock ledge is probably 1.5’ tall.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Super easy trail that you don't even need to air down for (I did anyway). The views along this trail can be incredible and there are quite a few awesome camp sites that I'll definitely be returning to! Follow me on Instagram @squatch.patrol.t4r
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Easy and smooth road. Had a good time on the SxS and enjoyed going over the bumps and whipping around corners. A much needed break from the rougher roads I've driven recently. There are also some 50" trails in the area, although in typical Forest Service fashion, some of the 50" gates are clearly 49" or less and people have started driving around them.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Beautiful and fun trail. I got there well before it got light and did some dark wheeling. Ran the whole trail from north to south. Not very many people out there, especially early in the morning. Camping spots everywhere. I would run this one again for sure. The colors are still bright on the trees since the elevation is a little lower.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran/camped at bald mtn gulch at the lookout spots that split to the left/right of the trail and had a great time. directions provided were spot on, clear, easy to follow, and the photos were an accurate depiction of the trail. Thanks!
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Simple fun trail to just get out and enjoy wheeling . Altitude is less than 10’000 feet so it’s good and warm this time of year . Midway thru it’s sandy wash and fun rollers . The exit going from north to south is steep and rocky but no issues even with a stock build .
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran from Hwy 24 south to Brown's Canyon Rec area. The tree hazard is gone so no worries there. There is one slightly sketchy (narrow) part, (but I'm overly cautious too) but it really isn't all that bad. Overall the road is in very good condition for this time of year. We had a fun run and only saw a couple of SxS's and 4 ATVs. Lots of spots for dispersed camping. The soft sand in places will tend to pull you all over so be aware of that.
Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
One of my favorite trails in the Buena Vista area. Bald Mountain Gulch is in good shape. There were several groups of trucks, motorcycles, and ATV/Side-by-sides using the trail today. I saw three different groups camping.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Ran this from the south end with a couple Tacoma's and a group of Tundra's (one being a DC longbed). All were lifted and didn't have any issues. Trail was really easy after that first rocky pass.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
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I enjoyed this trail, great scenery, moderately challenging in spots
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
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I led a small group from Overland Bound Buena Vista June Jam accessing Bald Mountain Loop from the north side on 6/28 and then a new group from the south end on 6/29. Much of the trail follows a sandy wash. The rock features near the south end I suspect serve a good gatekeeper function. We had one truck follow us in up to the first little rocky spot to discontinue after that. Most of the trail is doable in 2wd, but use 4wd to be safe on the rock features. The parking at the south end on a summer weekend was crowded. The parking area at the north end was pretty vacant.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Traveled this a few times the last couple days. No problem in stock full size. Mostly doable in 2WD, but I kept it in 4-lo just for gearing. Road was in good condition with a few cattle supporting us.
Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Snowy but passable for most rigs. Really nice and warm weather this weekend started melting a bunch of the snow and made sections down to dirt really muddy.
Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Updated links, added photos and camping suggestions at waypoints. Bald Mountain Gulch combined with the Loop is a favorite in this area southeast of Buena Vista.
Author: Official Crew
Social Media:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
We did a small portion of this trail after coming down 185D. We camped on the ridge and beautiful weather which was perfect for a night of camping.
Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Because of the weather, most of the off-road trails along the front range are closed. There are a number of trails in the Buena Vista area are currently open. When the trailsoffroad.com crew had a Meetup gathering in Buena Vista, I decided to take advantage of the trail availability in the area. Bald Mountain Gulch was in great shape. Because there has been very little snow in the immediate area, the trail was mostly dry.
Author: Official Crew
Social Media:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
On our way to Buena Vista we decided to get off pavement and onto some dirt. This is a super easy road that I have yet to drive on a clear day. Even on an overcast day the views of the Collegiate Peaks are amazing!
Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Drove the Bald Mountain Gulch Road (FS Road 300) late in June to update the original status from the prior summer. This is a really fun trail either direction, and the Bald Mountain Loop was extraordinary. There's lots of sites along this route for primitive camping--my favorites are near the northeastern trailhead and then the "camping ridge". Little traffic observed this weekend, mostly quads/ATVs and UTVs.
Author: Official Crew
Social Media:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
I wanted to do a trail not to far from Denver, and in an area that wasn’t effected by the Front Range’s bad weather system that was happening. Being a fairly gentle trail I felt comfortable doing this if it snowed or rained where I wouldn’t risk sliding into trouble. This trail allows you a little more off-road action if you are planning on doing Bald Mountain Loop or Chinaman Gulch. Bald Mountain Gulch connects you directly to Bald Mountain Loop, as well as Bassam Park Road, and 185D, which is a spur off the Black Dumps trail. By taking this trail you cut off a good ten miles of 285, the main paved road in the area. If you take this trail from East to West you arrive just south of Johnson Corners, where you can be at the Chinaman Gulch or Carnage Canyon trailhead within 5 minutes. I found the trail to be more stoic and aesthetically pleasing running it from East to West where I had great views of the Collegiate Peak. As you arrive at the high point of the trail at 9,400’ you get a great view looking down at farmland and the Collegiate Peaks. From there you wind down through woods of conifers, aspens and other hardwoods. Towards the end you get to go through some really interesting rock formations that the trail winds through. At the western end you travel down the steepest part where the views are even better and finally end up at the trailhead which is also shared parking for the popular Browns Canyon hike.

Questions & Answers (0)

Writer Information

Tracy Barker

Mapping Crew - Colorado

Tracy is an outdoor enthusiast originally from north Alabama. His family moved to central Utah when Tracy was a child, and subsequently to southern Utah, where he fell in love with the Rocky Mountains. His favorite activities are family trail rides and camping with small groups. He started many years ago in his dad's F-150 pickup truck, and subsequently his own 4x4 acquisition, a 1975 Ford Bronco (in 1991).
For individual use only, not to be shared.