4wheelonline is continuing with our list of the country’s top off-roading locations, and today we are cruising into Colorado to take a closer look at Engineer Pass.
While not being the most difficult or challenging off-road spot, Enginner Pass is certainly one of the most breath taking. As part of the infamous Alpine Loop, this beautiful trail runs approximately 30.9 miles long and weaves through the mountainous Colorado terrain. In fact, at certain points, riders will even feel as though they are dangling from the side of these elevated peaks.
As far as difficulty goes, though, writer and off-road enthusiast Jerry Clark says, “The Engineer Pass Road begins 3 miles south of Ouray on US 550. A large sign points the way to the Alpine Loop. The first two miles of the road are the most difficult to drive. Portions of the road are very rocky. Experienced 4-wheelers will not have much trouble. Beginners should proceed carefully.”
As riders navigate through the trail, they will also soon notice that they are riding alongside the Henson Creek. The sound of the creek (along with many others) helps to make the entire trip peaceful and nature-filled, which leads me to my next point. Don’t forget that camping IS allowed here, and with water always present, the opportunities for finding a great location are endless!
Another great feature about this trail is the fact that are actually a number of ghost towns and historic sites. One of the best along the route is undoubtedly the abandoned Mickey Breen Mine. While there are many mines along the trail, this is certainly the one of the best and most interesting because you can get up close and personal with it.
As far as historic sites go, there is also the San Juan Chief Mill, an old silver processing mill that was abandoned in 1893. This site– of course– is just a part of the larger Mineral Point ghost town. Yes, GHOST TOWN.
According to Clay Greathouse, author of the San Juan Triangle, “As you reach timberline you will have a great view of the ruins of the San Juan Chief Stamp Mill, which was built to process the Silver Ore from this area. A lot of time and money was poured into this structure but, unfortunately, it was finished in 1893, the year of the great Silver Crash, so it was never operated.”
Another great ghost town located on the trail is Animas Fork– which has had a lot of preservation work done to it and gives a great feel of the olden days. With all of these sites, the trail’s entertainment value is extraordinary.
However, without a doubt, the best spot on the entire trail is the extraordinary “Oh Point,” which offers a spectacular view from 13,000 feet high. After hitting that point, you’re entire visit to Engineer Pass will immediately come into focus.