Lets go on a Colorado Off-Road Adventure and explore an old gold mine on Saxon Mountain. Might there be some gold left?
Back in 1866, two poor broke miners lucked out and discovered a rich ore deposit on the north face what would be know later as Saxon Mountain. Due to the huge gold and silver rush in Georgetown, the hills were covered up in mining activity, and roads were built to haul supplies and rich ore in and out. Originally this trail started out as a foot path and then became a wagon road in about the same rough condition as it is today. Along the route there are cabins, mining ruins and interpretative signs explaining the history of the mountain. There are beautiful vistas of the valley below and the surrounding mountains from many places along the way.
Saxon Mountain is a personal favorite due to it’s proximity up I-70 and just over an hour west of Denver. Being the trail head starts in Georgetown Colorado, it makes for a excellent off-road day trip. Especially if you can take the family and pack a picnic lunch! It is nearly seven miles long, over twenty switchbacks and a gain of 3,000 feet in elevation. The trail can be driven in almost any stock SUV or truck that has good ground clearance and a selectable low-range 4wd. By no means is this trail smooth, so be prepared for a real rocky, bouncing and slow going adventure. Don’t worry – the scenery is well worth it!
To get there take I-70 west until exit 228 for Georgetown. Drive south for about 2 blocks to main street. Turn left and head east through the residential area and the first switchback will appear marked as county road 712. As you climb the mountain through the lower section of switchbacks there is plenty of room to pass another vehicle. At about 2 miles a little road goes east about 200 yards off of a switchback and stops above the ruins of the Anglo Saxon mill and mine. Another mile or so there will be several abandoned cabins on the right, well worth a stop here too! You can’t get lost on the trail as long as you are always going uphill.
Now, the top section of switchbacks and next couple miles are considered a true shelf road and is not for the ones afraid of heights. Passing is impossible in some sections so always look as far ahead as possible and be ready that you may have to wait for someone to back up the hill to allow your pass. Remember uphill traffic always has the right of way.
When the switchbacks are over, the trail continues through the trees straight ahead with a shallow climb. When you reach a well defined intersection, the right fork heads to the top and end of road. The left fork is part of Spring Creek Gulch trail and leads to several other trails. In about half a mile you will reach the top of Saxon Mountain. Once at the top, the view is nothing short of spectacular. Mt Evans to the southeast, Argentine peak and I-70 disappearing into the mountains in the west, and Berthoud pass to the Northwest. Picnic tables are provided at the top and there is plenty of exploring and reading of the interpretative signs.
There are two options for the return to I-70. Go back down the way you came up or take Spring Creek Gulch road down to the town of Idaho Springs and connect with I-70.
On the scale of 1-5 with 5 being the highest difficulty, I give Saxon a 2,except for a couple of the rough narrow sections I would give a 3. The trail is an ‘in and out’, meaning it is not a loop and you have to come back the way in or another trail may intersect it for an alternative way out.
GPS coordinates for the trail head:
N 39 43.355, W 105 41.393
N39 43 21, W105 41 23
Please enjoy this fun TFLcar Off-Road video:
As a Mustang Bullitt owner, occasional auto-cross racer, and off-road adventurer, Destin has been an automotive fanatic since his first matchbox car over thirty years ago. Spare time is usually spent searching the web and reading anything of what’s new and old in the automotive industry. In the summer months, he is either displaying his Bullitt at car shows, participating in an SCCA amateur auto-cross, or exploring the beautiful Colorado Rockies on off-road trails in search of historic mining ghost towns.