Guide to Northern Colorado Backroads and 4-Wheel Drive Trails  by Charles A. Wells

Guide to Northern Colorado Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails Guide Book

by Charles A. Wells (FunTreks)
Guide to Northern Colorado Backroads and 4-Wheel Drive Trails  by Charles A. Wells
Whether novice or expert, you'll enjoy this clear, concise guide to Colorado's remote backcountry. New Northern title replaces previous Volume 2. Total of 45 trails - 23 all new. Detailed trail descriptions, 51 maps and over 240 photos cover spectacular area north of Interstate 70. Trails near Denver, Boulder, Loveland, Fort Collins, Estes Park, Idaho Springs, Vail, Kremmling, Grand Lake, Glenwood Springs and Steamboat Springs. Thirty trails suitable for most stock sport utility vehicles. GPS Waypoints.

© 2006 Charles A Wells/FunTreks. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Guide to Northern Colorado Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 45.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 45.

Adams Lake is very secluded and scenic with great camping. Remote location and steep climb to lake keeps traffic to minimum. Massive network of roads to west goes all the way to Rifle and Meeker. A fun loop for ATVs, but very rough and challenging in places. Half of trail is easy to moderate, but several stretches are very rocky and steep. No major hardcore obstacles. An experienced driver can do it in an aggressive, high-clearance, stock 4-wheel-drive SUV.
Dotsero, CO - Off-Highway Drives - Trail Length: 16.2
A scenic drive from Central City to historic Apex and beyond. A few people still live in Apex, so it is not considered a ghost town. There are interesting cemeteries just outside Central City. ATVs not allowed south of Apex. A rocky, washboard surface with occasional muddy spots. When road is dry, it is suitable for all sport utility vehicles and some cars. Historic Apex buildings are private,take only photos. Impressive mountain views. Winding, gravel road much of the way.
Central City, CO - Off-Highway Drives - Trail Length: 11.6
Remote area with little traffic. See historic site of Teller City with numerous cabin ruins scattered across wide area. Short hike required to see Baker Pass. Much of hike is flat until final climb to top. Abundant seasonal wildflowers at higher elevations. ATVs allowed on roads. Steep and narrow at top. Suitable for stock 4x4 SUVs.
Fort Collins, CO - Off-Highway Drives - Trail Length: 30
You’ll pass the well-preserved Conqueror Mine on your way to a network of fun backroads. Seasonal wildflowers and great high-elevation views. One side trip goes to a small, serviceable cabin (see map for GPS coordinates). Trail connects to Empire Loop and Red Elephant Hill, Trail #34. Great area for ATVs with plenty of parking at the start. The upper portion of the trail has several steep, loose, rocky sections. Some stock SUVs can do it, but their spinning tires are chewing up the trail. Please take the 183.1A bypass around the worst section if your vehicle does not have differential lockers. You don’t need to go all the way to the top to have a good time. There are many great side roads to explore without going up the difficult spots.
Idaho Springs, CO - Off-Highway Drives - Trail Length: 5.4
This road was once an important route between Steamboat Springs and Walden. It now serves as a quiet backcountry getaway to several Forest Service campgrounds and fishing lakes. Colorful seasonal wildflowers along much of route. ATVs are allowed east of starting point on F.S. 60 and other marked forest roads. Area is closed to all motor vehicles, except snowmobiles, between Dec. 1 and June 30. Fees charged at self-service fee stations for camping and day use. Suitable, when dry, for sturdy passenger cars.
Steamboat Springs, CO - Off-Highway Drives - Trail Length: 15.4
Relaxing summer drive from popular Winter Park. Ends at Byers Peak Hiking Trail. Enjoy hiking, biking and camping. Many ATV trails. Mostly graded roads. Suitable for high-clearance, 2-wheeldrive vehicles when dry. Upper end is narrow and steep. Busy on weekends.
Winter Park, CO - Off-Highway Drives - Trail Length: 14.2
Fun route for stock vehicles with a variety of challenges. Trail sometimes doesn’t open until late June or early July depending upon winter snowpack. Route skirts eastern border of Indian Peaks Wilderness and passes by historic Caribou Townsite (see Historical Highlights next page). Highest point of route reaches 10,200 feet with great mountain views including Eldora Ski Area. Explore several marked side roads. Camp only in numbered, designated sites along trail. Past abuses have threatened closure of this area. Stay on marked routes at all times. Report violators. Much of the route is easy but a few places are steep, narrow and rocky. One section after Caribou Creek is soft and rutted. When wet, it can be boggy and nearly impassable. High-clearance, stock SUVs should have no problem when the trail is dry. Long wheel-based vehicles should avoid the last 1.5 miles above the town of Eldora. This part of trail is very narrow with tight switchbacks. Caribou 4WD Route is great for ATVs but they are not allowed on County Roads 116 and 128. You can drive trail in either direction.
Boulder, CO - Off-Highway Drives - Trail Length: 2.8
Popular fishing destination. One spur goes to Chinns Lake and Sherwin Lake, another to larger Fall River Reservoir. Great camping around Chinns Lake. ATVs are allowed on entire road. No parking at start; recommend unloading at 1.9 miles. Mostly easy with a few moderate sections of embedded rock. Suitable for stock, high-clearance 4WD sport utility vehicles.
Idaho Springs, CO - Off-Highway Drives - Trail Length: 6.6
High, spectacular views as you climb. Campgrounds have picnic tables, fire rings and vault toilets. Recommend short side trip to Deep Creek Overlook with views into high-walled canyon. Coffee Pot Road provides access to Trails #40, #41 and #42. Popular fall hunting area. Many side roads to explore. Great for ATVs. Mostly wide gravel road, but blind curves are narrow in places. Don’t become complacent; road has no guard rails. Lower portion is suitable for passenger cars. Bumpier around upper lakes.
Dotsero, CO - Off-Highway Drives - Trail Length: 54
Route follows portion of Stock Driveway, an old cattle trail. See mining equipment and cabin ruins at Elkhorn Mine then drive over top of Elkhorn Mountain at 9,550 ft. Great views as you descend. Fun for ATVs. Much of trail is easy to moderate. Just a few steep, rutted and muddy spots that could be difficult under some conditions. Suitable for aggressive, high-clearance 4WD SUVs. Very remote, don’t go alone.
Steamboat Springs, CO - Off-Highway Drives - Trail Length: 10.4
The first part of the trail weaves up and down tightly through the forest then levels out as it crosses several long meadows. Part of the trail follows the western border of the Mt. Zirkel Wilderness Area, where motor vehicles are prohibited. The end of the trail leaves you far from any services and actually crosses the state border into Wyoming. When you finish, you’re not far from beautiful Hog Park Reservoir that offers camping, picnicking and fishing. A popular ATV area with great places for large campers and hauling trailers along first part of route around Big Red Park. Popular hunting area in the fall. This trail would receive a moderate rating if it weren’t for several open meadows that are wet and muddy most of the time. It’s easy to get stuck, and trees are not always within reach of a winch cable. You won’t find any major rock obstacles. Mud-terrain tires are certainly a benefit. Suitable for stock, high-clearance 4-wheel-drive SUVs if traveling with other vehicles who can help if you get stuck.
Steamboat Springs, CO - Off-Highway Drives - Trail Length: 14.4
Most of route is through dense trees with limited views. First part of trail passes three lakes. Long, remote trip. ATVs allowed but muddy. No major obstacles but very muddy. Latest route bypasses deep mud bogs of years past. Fairly flat but at a high elevation over 9,500 feet. Spring snows linger and fall snows come early.
Fort Collins, CO - Off-Highway Drives - Trail Length: 19.2
Handy shortcut from Coffee Pot Road, Trail #39, to Transfer Trail #42. Highlight of trip is Grizzly Cow Camp with original cabins in various states of repair. Old furniture is still scattered about. Picturesque creek, next to camp, drops steeply into rocky canyon. Camp can be accessed from western side to avoid difficult ledge. Fun trail for ATVs. Mostly moderate except for one rock ledge that’s a bit challenging for stock vehicles. Wet conditions increase difficulty. Stock 4x4 SUVs with high clearance can do it; however, some rock stacking at ledge may be necessary to avoid scraping bottom.
Dotsero, CO - Off-Highway Drives - Trail Length: 5.8
Outstanding views from both Hahns Peak and Farwell Mountain on a clear day. The road up Hahns Peak does not go all the way to top, but the views are still outstanding. Colorful seasonal wildflowers along route. Many original cabins remain in quaint Hahns Peak Village. All are privately owned and occupied, but are nonetheless very photogenic. Numerous narrow mining roads make this a great area for ATVs. Rocky and steep in places but no major obstacles along the route described here. Many old mining roads to explore with unknown difficulty ratings. Easy to get lost if you get off the main route. Shelf road going up Hahns Peak is very narrow and dead ends where it is difficult to turn around. Best to stop at switchback below end of road. Lower portion of F.S. 409, coming down from Farwell Mountain, is muddy and slick when wet. This route is best done on a dry day. Suitable for most stock, high-clearance, 4-wheel-drive SUVs.
Steamboat Springs, CO - Off-Highway Drives - Trail Length: 3.9
A variety of challenges with scenic camp spots along the route. Camp and park at both ends of the trail. The east end has a larger camping area. Several marked side roads to explore. Great trail for ATVs and dirt bikes. Makes a good weekend outing when combined with Pierson Park Road, Trail #11. Most of the route is easy to moderate. Only one short section on the east side is difficult. This spot is steep with challenging rock ledges. Another part of the trail has large mud holes. Some can be bypassed; others cannot. An experienced driver in an aggressive, high-clearance fourwheeldrive SUV should have no problems going west to east because the difficult section is downhill. Uphill is a bit more challenging.
Estes Park, CO - Off-Highway Drives - Trail Length: 11.7
A relatively good road surface given the high altitude at pass. Stunning 360° views from top. Not heavily traveled despite its easy access from Denver. ATVs are allowed on main road but not on side roads. Some embedded rock but mostly graded. Road is narrow and steep on west side of pass and may be intimidating to novice drivers. Very high pass at 12,453 feet. Snow can block trail well into summer. Pictures at left were taken on July 20, following heavy spring snows.
Empire, CO - Off-Highway Drives - Trail Length: 8
The trail climbs steeply out of the Cache La Poudre River Valley and winds for a considerable distance across a high ridge with beautiful views of the Mummy Range on a clear day. Noted obstacles include the Chutes and Heart Attack Hill. This high-elevation trail is normally closed mid-November to late May. Open to ATVs but very difficult in places. Private land developers have built a good road around the Chutes, isolating the Chutes along the side of the road. However, the Chutes are open to anyone looking for a challenge. The Chutes can be easily bypassed. Very steep and rocky in places. Second half of trail can be muddy. Differential lockers and high ground clearance are required. Extremely difficult and narrow getting through the optional Chutes where body damage is likely. The bypass route for Heart Attack Hill has one difficult rocky spot and is nearly impassable when wet.
Fort Collins, CO - Off-Highway Drives - Trail Length: 10.8
Most of this route is above timberline with outstanding 360degree views much of the way. Several fourteeners can be seen from the top, including Longs Peak to the north and Mt. Evans to the south. Immediately west is James Peak at 13,294 ft. On a clear day, you can see Interstate 70 and Georgetown to the south. Enjoy an outstanding birdseye view of Loch Lomond, Trail #28, from overlook at the Rockhouse. Here a large pile of rocks, deposited by passersby, has accumulated over a period of many years. If you wish to join in the fun, take an exotic rock along to add to the pile. ATVs should access the trail from the north end where plenty of parking is available. Parking in Alice is limited to steep, rough roads high above the town. You cannot park or ride ATVs in town. Western side of trail is rocky with two steep sections. An experienced driver can manage the trail in an aggressive, high-clearance, stock SUV with low-range gearing. The trail climbs above 12,000 feet where snow can linger well into July. Early snows can also shut down the upper portion of trail as early as mid-September.
Idaho Springs, CO - Hiking,Off-Highway Drives - Trail Length: 6.8
Popular hardcore area with choice of many difficult routes. Stay on marked routes at all times. Abuses could result in trail closure. Open to ATVs and dirt bikes. (Note: For safety reasons, shooting area near start has been moved north beyond switchback.) Large rock obstacles with narrow, tippy sections. Body damage possible. For serious hardcore vehicles only. Lockers required.
Boulder, CO - Off-Highway Drives - Trail Length: 6.8
Short, beautiful drive to picturesque lake near timberline. Photogenic stream with seasonal wildflowers along upper portion of route. Hike short distance to waterfall at northwest corner of lake. More lakes higher up. Remain on marked routes at all times. Camp in designated spots only. ATVs allowed on trail but don’t park or ride in town of Alice. Mostly easy with a few moderate sections of embedded rock. Suitable for stock, high-clearance 4WD sport utility vehicles. Side trip on 701.2A is difficult with large boulders and one dangerous tippy spot.
Idaho Springs, CO - Off-Highway Drives - Trail Length: 4.6