We ran this trail in the opposite direction just after running Argentine Pass. That meant we started at the Waldorf Mine and went up the big hill. It wasn't as fun running the rocks at the end in that direction, but it was still a fantastic time.
We all had a great time climbing the loose hill to start the trail, and we took the northern-most switchbacks first. We planned on going to the Santiago Mine on the way back down.
The way up to the top was very scenic and no one had any issues. It was chilly (and sometimes cold) but sunny, so we all worked on our tans on whatever skin was still exposed.
When we got to the top of the switchbacks we found an Explorer at the top. We parked all around it and chatted briefly with the owners. They were all smiles, and they headed back down before we did.
The top was a rush, looking down on the other side. If you accidentally kept going on the trail you wouldn't survive. It was really, really steep and very far to the bottom. We even saw a mangled car at the very bottom.
We saw many, many people on the hiking trail to Grays Peak and Torreys Peak. It was very crowded. The day was perfect for a hike, though.
We soon started down and caught up to the Explorer at the switchback with the spur just as a Cherokee was on its way up. We all met at that intersection and it was like it was choreographed as vehicles moved out of the way. We kept going on the spur as the other two cars passed each other on the switchback.
We went up to the overlook but it wasn't much to see, so thankfully it was short. Then we headed off to the unnamed mine.
The trail there was much different. It was narrow in most places and overgrown in some areas. Some of the rock had come down into the trail in some places, making it very tippy at times. One part was a little loose, too. The switchbacks were tight as we worked our way down.
We all explored the area around the unnamed mine for a bit, enjoying the lack of wind. It would have been a great place for lunch, so we'll have to remember that spot.
We soon headed back up to the main trail and then down to the Santiago Mine. When we got there, some of us went into the mine while others stayed chatting at the vehicles. The people in the Explorer were there, and it turned out that one of them was writing a book about that mine and others in the area. He was full of information about it, and we were lucky to have been there at the same time.
We spent a lot of time exploring the mine and the area, but then headed back down. The rocky section working its way down to the Argentine Pass trail was very narrow, with thick pine tree branches all over our Jeeps. The portion of the trail after crossing Argentine Pass was much better, and we had fun on the rocks.
When we got to one of the few escape trails that takes you back up to Argentine Pass we split up, with half of the group going out to head for home with the other half staying down to explore the rocky section.
While we were splitting up, Chad's tie rod simply fell off of his Jeep. He stopped, and we all got out. Miraculously, Don found the castle nut in about three seconds, and he had a cotter pin. Chad was back in business in no time.
The rest of the rocky trail was fun, and we all noticed the fantastic camp spots down in that area. We even saw a deer very close to the trail. Soon we were off the trail and we headed back to the Argentine Pass trailhead and turned to finish Guanella Pass. It was a great day in the high country.
Reports from Other Days: 4
Use the arrows or dots to flip through the previews of the other reports for McClellan Mountain. Click one of them to read more and see all of the photos from that day.