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Alpine Loop/County Road 18

Trail to Animas Forks, Poughkeepsie Gulch and Engineer Pass

Located  south of Ouray just off of the Million Dollar Highway is County Road 18. This is the road to take to visit  Animas Forks as well as the Poughkeepsie Gulch Trail and the Engineer Pass Trail. It is a really easy trail, in my opinion, that winds its way up the mountain  to the above listed fun spots. As you go up the trail, the road parallels the Umcompahgre River.  The trail recommends that you drive a short wheel base 4x4 but I've seen all sorts of trucks up there too. There are a few mine sites along the way as well as Mineral Point which is pretty much on top of the mountain.  It really is a beautiful drive with lots of things to see. Don't be in a hurry and check out some of the old mines as well as all the waterfalls. 

County Road 18

Located near to top of the mountain is the ghost town of Mineral Point. The town was founded in 1873. According to local legend, it was given this name because of a large vein of quartz that runs for several miles. As with the majority of mining towns, Mineral Point prospered for almost 2 decades the faded away in the 1890's. There is still a lot of cool stuff to see. I would really love to hear how noisy the stamp mill at Mineral Point was. Modern day ball mills would appear to be quiet when set side by side to a stamp mill. I did look up a stamp mill video on Youtube and it only had two heads and wasn't doing any stamping per se. These guys had restored it and gave a short demonstration oh how it worked. I can only imagine how noisy the mill at Mineral Point must have been. 

Mineral Point

Last but not least is this dumb-ass. The trail coming up from Animas Forks is fairly easy. It is not uncommon to see cars at the ghost town. This guy thought his Subaru could go anywhere, until the dreaded flat tire got him. He asked if he could make it to Ouray and we just laughed. The undersized spare and the total lack of ground clearance kind of ruined his day. Explore Aware.... know your limitations and don't press your luck. It could be a long hike out for help! 

Beginning of County Road 18