We had just finished running Whale Hill, and although it was getting late in the afternoon we wanted to run Turquoise Mine. We had only been driving for 9 1/2 hours -- it was too early to quit! Since we were at the end of Whale Hill, we opted to turn around and head back up Whale Hill to check out the Turquoise Mine trail.
Running it from the north end to the south end puts the big hill as an uphill battle instead of a downhill one. Not only is this the most fun direction, you'll also have the right of way in most cases.
We climbed quickly through the trees to the crest of the trail, barely stopping for any pictures. There were no noteworthy sections, nor any scenic vistas, so we made good time. We passed a gated spur to the left, marked "Private" and continued on. When we came to a small clearing beside Peterson Creek, there was a spur leading to the left that looked like it would lead to the Villa Grove mine site. We followed this, only to be turned around at a gate and private land. We retraced our track back to the main trail.
Following the main trail downhill, we passed through some large aspen groves with the trunks marked by antler scratches. There were some good views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains as we approached the end of the trail. We were soon at the highway and anxious to get to town and dinner. After airing up, we were off up the highway and soon back to Salida.