This was the first trail on the first day of our San Juan Mountains trip, and we were all excited to get going. We tried to meet at a coffee shop in Silverton, but it was closed so we met at the Silverton Grocery for the rest of the week. It worked out well. To make matters even better, the weather was perfect.
Maggie Gulch is just north of Silverton, so we aired down on the main road in a pullout. The views were already amazing and we hadn't even started the trail yet. Finding the trailhead was easy, with a pit toilet there.
We started up, snaking through the trees, and we soon found ourselves crossing the huge talus section. It was weird, but very cool. Just after that, we took the spur down to the waterfall viewing area.
There were already some people down there, people we'd see throughout the day. Still, there was plenty of room. It looked like a rough hike through brush to get to the waterfall, so we enjoyed it from the viewing area instead. Eventually, we all turned around to head back up to the trail.
The trail got narrow, and the drop-off was pretty crazy. Then, after that section, the views opened up. We passed the spur to the Little Maud Mine because it didn't look like it offered much of anything. When we got to the "Y" in the road, we went up to the Empire Mine.
The road up there was pretty fun, with tight switchbacks and narrow climbs. At the top, there was plenty of room to park and walk around. We all put on more sunscreen -- it was hard to believe that we were risking sunburns in the San Juan Mountains, famous for rain.
The views from the Empire Mine area were outstanding, making the side trip definitely worth it. We could see the Intersection Mill below us, with lots of cars parked there. We headed down to join them.
When we got there, three of the big trucks were from the forest service and they were parked in ways to take up most of the parking area. We found parking spaces on the trail here and there, and then walked back to the mill. We'd definitely want to spend some time there.
The Intersection Mill was very cool. We'd seen stamp mills before, but the pieces are usually laying around on the ground. In this case, however, the mill was almost completely together. You could really see how things worked, and we spent some time pointing things out and chatting. It was a very cool thing to see, and well worth the trip.
It wasn't long before we headed out, though. We had lots of trails to do!