Red and White Mountain and McAllister Gulch Jeep TrailsSeptember 1998
A quiet weekend in the mountains was the brief, some interesting, mild jeep trails and forest roads, some great views and a bit of local color. So said our "tag-alongs" for the weekend, who wanted to see where their brand new Ford Explorer would take them.
We departed Denver on Friday afternoon, heading for the White River National Forest, just north of Vail. A couple of hours driving up the highway before we turned off and camped for the night near Red Sandstone Creek at 10,200 feet. As hardy fall campers, no-one minded the frosty start to the next morning and piping hot coffee and pancakes went a long way to warming the inner man.
The trail to Red and White Mountain is signposted off from Indian Creek Road. This road is tricky in wet weather - all along its length, the red clay shows some large ruts and washouts, add to that some sections that twist around the mountain, and a few off camber sections and it would be interesting when boggy. Having said that, it was a wonderful easy trail in the dry fall weather. It also has spectacular scenery and views with great camp spots all along its length.
We climbed up through the pine for a couple of miles, with great views back along Indian Creek to the east, before following FS 734 (Red and White Mountain Road) west along the ridge top. The first campspots are at this point at around 10,000 feet, but there are plenty more further on. Our new tag-along friends were now enjoying the great views south over the Vail ski area and the Vail valley. The track wound through pine and aspen and the mainly smooth trail offered no problem to the Explorer, although there were a couple of rocky climbs, muddy spots and off-camber ruts that needed low range and some basic instruction for the 4-wheel newbies.
A side track took us to the top of a grassy spur for lunch and the clear day provided 360 degree views around the White River forest. The only people we saw were some hunters on ATV's scouting for elk for the upcoming hunting season. We emerged from the forest onto the Wolcott-State Bridge road a couple of miles north of Wolcott and took I70 briefly back east before wrapping south through Minturn and out towards Shrine Pass to camp for the night. The night was clear and we had a sociable evening around the campfire, a leg of lamb with roast taties to sustain us along with a pleasant bottle of Californian wine.
Our final day, Sunday, saw us traveling up McAllister Gulch towards Camp Hale. The track is an easy to moderate rating ( rated a 4 by the CAFWDC), with stunning views. An easy climb takes the track up to the grassy tops of Resolution and Hornsilver mountains, then runs along the open ridge tops for a few miles. The surface is mainly easy going, a couple of rocky sections, but we cruised along at a leisurely pace. The Explorer people had big grins on their faces as they easily negotiated the bumps, enjoyed the sunshine, spotted white tail deer in the trees and stopped for many photographs. A sidetrack deadends at the top of Resolution Mountain at 11,905 feet and a great photo opportunity, before the main track descends back into the trees. A flat area with the trees behind us and a sheer drop in front of us provided a lovely morning tea spot. Then we continued on into the trees, descending quickly on a fairly steep section of track that wound through the trees. This section would be very interesting in the wet when it would become a slippery slide.
We emerged onto sealed road at Camp Hale, the ex-military base in time for a late lunch before heading back towards Denver. The Explorers were tired, but excited at the thought of more weekends away in their new vehicle.... and what were we doing next weekend?
© Bushducks 1998
4WD Adventures: Colorado
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