Section One- Begins at a modern cemetery and ends at a historic one, with a nice cross section of frontrange life along the way. Dirt roads and quiet backways dominate this section.
Section Two- Rockcrawling 101 on Kingston Peak and Yankee Hill. Climb above treeline and hike to James Peak Lakes, visit the Rockhouse on Kingston Peak, pass through the Enchanted Forest and view St. Mary's Glacier from the base of Yankee Hill. This section gives this route it's Moderate rating.
Section Three- Historic section, follows mostly dirt roads through an area rich with mining history. Ghost towns, cemeteries and mining sites lead you to Idaho Springs.
Sections One and Three year round.
Section Two June 15 to October 15 (aprox). This section can be bypassed; Sections One and Three connect easily via Kings Way / Bald Mountain Road (see map).
Section One begins at Crown Hill Cemetery Park and ends at the Central City Cemetery. We chose the start location because it's a good place for a group to meet; there's a large parking area with restrooms, paved and dirt trails that are dog friendly, a nice lake and a nature preserve. Coyotes and deer live here, and it is a nesting ground for many species of birds. It is an oasis in the city.
From the parking lot head west on 26th avenue to Kipling Street. Turn right on Kipling and then left on 32nd Avenue, heading west towards the mountains. You'll stay on 32nd all the way to Golden. Along the way you'll pass Macntyre Street at 4.4 miles; this marks the beginning of the Coors Brewery plant which occupies all of the real estate on the north side of 32nd avenue. Get ready to close your windows! There is a sewage processing plant across the river; when the wind is right it combines with the fermentation smell from Coors to create an epic experience. On a good day Coors smells like fresh bread. That is not everyday.
The staging area for the Coors Brewery Tour is on the left side just before you enter the town of Golden at 7.1 miles. This tour is very popular and is listed as an Element on our site. Continue straight as the road name changes from 32nd Avenue to 13th Street. At 7.3 miles turn right on Washington Street and follow it to Highway 93 where you'll turn right. At the next traffic light turn left on Golden Gate Canyon Road, also called Highway 46.
Golden Gate Canyon road is slow and winding as it heads west. Watch for fallen rock the first few miles. At 10.4 miles the road goes past Mt. Gailbraith park. This park is very popular and here are often cars parked along the narrow roadway. There is not much of a shoulder, so people and dogs walk in the traffic lanes. Be careful.
At 12.9 miles you'll see the Grange Hall; just beyond the Grange the road forks. Bear right on Crawford Gulch road. Crawford Gulch road is a quiet country road that is popular with bicycists. At 17 miles the road interects with Belcher Hill, and the name changes from Crawford Gulch to Drew Hill. Continue straight. At 17.3 miles the pavement ends, and Drew Hill road becomes a graded dirt road. Watch your speed, there are washboard sections with significant drop offs, and a long steep downhill leads to a sharp S-curve at 19 miles.
At 19.3 miles the road enters Golden Gate Canyon State Park and the road name changes back to Crawford Gulch. This park has fantastic hiking and biking trails, camping of all types and a lot of fishing. Continue along as the road enters and exits private property. At 24.2 miles the Visitors Center will be on the left and a STOP sign ahead; the Visitors Center has a natural pool of large fish that you can feed food from a vending maching to, children love it. At the STOP sign turn right on Highway 46.
46 goes past some popular fishing spots as it leaves the park and heads into residential ranch land. At 27.8 miles turn left on Timber drive. This is a short dirt road that loops back to 46 at 28.2 miles. Turn left on 46; at 28.7 miles turn left on Dory Hill road. At 29.1 miles the road splits 3 ways and the pavement ends; the middle one is Dory Hill road. This graded dirt road goes through a residential area down to highway 119 in Blackhawk. You will know you are close to Blackhawk when the pavement resumes at 31.2 miles you can see the Ameristar Casino. The road name changes from Dory Hill to Richman Road, and at the intersection with Highway 119 turn right.
At the next traffic light you'll turn left on Gregory Street. Get in the right lane and stay there. Gregory becomes Lawrence and then Eureka Street as you pass through Blackhawk and Central City. The Central City Cemetery marks the end of the developed area of Central City and the end of this section of the CCT. The road name changes from Eureka to Upper Apex and forks next to the cemetery; to the right on Upper Apex is the start of Section Two; to the left, King Flats road is the bypass route to Section Three, and we end this section on King Flats road at William C. Russel park. There are picnic facilities, a small fishing lake and a restroom.
Section Two is being mapped and videod in mid-August 2017, description will post then. The seasonal gates opened late July, most of Colorado was delayed this year due to snow.
Section Three begins at the ATV staging area on Columbine Campground Road. This road connects with King Flats and Upper Apex roads near the cemeteries where Section One ends. We chose this location to start from because it is a good meetup spot for groups and it's designed to accommodate vehicles with trailers.
Turn left on Columbine Campground road as you leave the parking area and turn right on Kings Flats road just past the cemeteries. This is where Section One ends. The road name changes to Bald Mountain road. Bear left at the intersection with Bald Mountain Lane, and bear left again at the intersection with Bald Mountain Way. The road name changes to Nevadaville road as you enter the town.
Nevadaville is one of the oldest mining towns in Colorado. It was established in 1859 when John Gregory found lode gold in the area. At that time Colorado did not yet exist, Nevadaville was part of the Western Kansas Territory. Also established in 1859 was Masonic Lodge, Nevada Lodge Number 4, which is still in operation today. Some of the homes in town are inhabited, and the General Store is occasionally open for business when the resident owner feels like it.
On November 7, 1861 a fire destroyed more than 50 of the original structures. The town's residents used dynamite from the mines to blow up fuel in the fire's path and prevented it from spreading beyond Eureka Street. Nevadaville's growth was not detered by the fire, and by 1864 there were over 6000 residents, mostly miners.
Mining remnants are visible through out the area; by the early 1900s all of the veins of ore that were near the surface had been worked out and Nevadaville was slowly abandoned. Modern mining techniques have made deeper veins accessible, and some of the mines here are active again. Nevadaville, Russell Gulch and all of this area is seeing residential redevelopment as Colorado's population continues to grow.
From Nevadaville road turn left on the Central City Parkway. Follow this until you reach Central City; make a sharp right up Spring Street and follow it as it curves left, bear right on Virginia Canyon Road and leaves Central City.
Central City was founded in 1861 and was known as "The Richest Square Mile On Earth" during the gold boom. Nearby Blackhawk, known as the "City Of Mills" was also prospering due to it's railroad station and smelting operations that removed the gold from ore.
After the bust of the early 1900s Central City and Blackhawk were reborn in 1991 when the citizens voted for limited-stakes gambling. Behind many of the historical storfronts you'll find a modern casino; part of the gambling revenues are used to restore and preserve historic sites and maintain the town's appearance.
As the road passes back over the Central City Parkway the pavement ends and you'll enter an active mining area. Gold is still the main commodity here, as it was when this road was a toll road before the railroad arrived in 1874. The town of Russell Gulch is a short detour along the way and well worth exploring. One of our Elements is here, the Ghost Town Disc Golf Course.
In 1873 President Ulysses S. Grant, along with his wife Julia and daughter Nellie, drove this same route from Central City to Idaho Springs. This road was known for two things back then: scary drop-offs and bandits. Carriage drivers became practiced at this route and would go fast to surprise and hopefully avoid bandits. The driver of the Grant's horse-drawn stage had to assure terrified Nellie that he wasn't driving quickly because he was suicidal and that they would, infact, make it down safely. They did, and President Grant signed the bill that made Colorado a state in 1876. It is rumored that Nellie gave this road it's unofficial name, "Oh My Gawd Road!".
The road has changed a lot since then, but still provides some incredible views and the drop offs will get your attention in places. Mining remnants abound as the road winds downhill towards Idaho Springs.
At the intersection with Alps Hill Road bear left on Virginia Canyon Road. Soon you'll enter Idaho Springs, and Virginia Canyon Road ends at Colorado Blvd. Turn right, and follow to 13th Ave; turn left, Interstate 70 will be infront of you.