There are many off-road trails in Colorado. One of the more interesting areas is in the Lake City-Silverton-Ouray triangle. One can drive from Lake City to Ouray over Engineer Pass, to Silverton via Cinnamon Pass or run the Alpine Loop (60 miles) and cross both Engineer and Cinnamon Passes. The trail from Lake City to Silverton is a 25.5 mile trail which winds along the Gunnison River for a while, then climbs to the Pass at 12600′ and heads down past the old ghost town of Animas Forks and on to Silverton.
Cinnamon Pass was used by Charles Baker in 1860 to access the area where Silverton is today when he was exploring for gold. In 1874 the Hayden Survey party crossed the Pass; the team did not feel that the Pass would make a viable route due to its altitude and steepness. The trails were used extensively in the 1800’s during the gold and silver boom in the San Juan Mountains.The Bureau of Land Management now manages and maintains the trail from start to finish.
We are off road initiates and new owners of a Jeep Wrangler. During a recent tour of Colorado we tried several trails including Cinnamon Pass. I had actually been over the Pass about 15 years ago in a Mercedes SUV, which was adequate but not ideal. Our Jeep, nicknamed “Nickel”, was great. The road is not very rough, but is a true off-road trail and tests one’s fortitude with narrow shelf roads and some of the inclines. Along the way we ran into ghost towns, mines and scenic overlooks . The overlooks are plentiful. Our transition from Lake City to Silverton took about three hours, with very few stops.