By Deb Stanley, Examiner.com
Winter hiking is not for everyone, but Mayflower Gulch is a great place to start. It has old cabins, mines and amazing views. The trail is fairly short and can hiked or visited on snowshoes.
Mayflower Gulch is just six miles from I-70 and the Copper Mountain exit. (Directions below) The trail starts on a tree lined Jeep road. There are some short climbs, but there are also lots of fairly level spots. That’s important when you’re hiking at 11,000 feet.
Each time there is a break in the trees, hikers get a glimpse of the beautiful mountain scenery to come. Along the trail, look for a collapsed cabin on the left and an old mining operation on the right. When you come to a fork in the road, stay left.
The trail climbs to above tree line. As the trees thin out, more of the amazing scenery of Mayflower Gulch comes into view. Turn left at the gate and follow the road to several old cabins. In 2010, we found one cabin still standing and three others collapsed here.
One of my favorite things to do at an old cabin is take a picture of the view through the window. Use the window frame, to frame the nearby peaks. Mayflower Gulch may be one of the best places to do this.
Hikers can turn around at the cabins for a three mile hike or continue on. The road heads for a ridge on the northeast side of the valley. You may even spot yet another cabin in the distance. As you hike, look closely just off the road for remnants of past residents. I found bed springs, an old stove and a barrel. In the winter, these remnants may be covered in the deep snow.
The road ends at a gate with a view of the old Boston Mine (now called the Gold Crest Mine) and an amazing 360 degree view of the area. In the surrounding mountain ranges there are two almost 14ers: Pacific Peak at 13,950 feet and Fletcher Mountain at 13,951 feet. While the road to the mine is closed, the views here are stunning. Enjoy the scenery and return the way you came.
Details: To the cabins and back is about 3 miles roundtrip with 500 feet of elevation, to the gate at the mine and back is about 4.5 miles roundtrip with 1,000 feet of elevation gain. You are hiking at 11,000 feet so the hiking is more difficult here than in the metro area.
Directions: From Interstate 70, exit at Copper Mountain and drive Colorado Highway 91 south about 6 miles. Look for the large parking lot on the east side of the road. There is no sign here. Once you’re in the lot, hopefully my pictures will show you what you the trail looks like. The parking lot is not a pull-out, it is large enough for dozens of vehicles.