Georgia Pass – Summit County, Colorado

Georgia Pass Road #355

Every Fall we always try to take at least one day trip to find Aspen gold.   This year we found an offroad trail with a little challenge and a little scenery — Georgia Pass.   This pass connects the towns of Jefferson and Breckenridge and was once a late 1800’s stagecoach trail that carried passengers from the Jefferson railroad terminal into Breckenridge and surrounding communities.

 

Trail Name: Georgia Pass

Trail Length: 11.6 miles

Highest Elevation: 11,585 feet 

We decided to enter the trail from Tiger Road just outside of Breckenridge, since this section of the pass was the most difficult. This part of Summit County used to be an active mining area and home to many small mining communities that have long since disappeared.

Georgia Pass

Our ascent up Georgia Pass was steep, narrow, and rocky.  There are numerous spurs off the main trail, which can make the trail somewhat confusing to follow. The road is marked with forest service road markers, but they can easily blend in with the dense trees and brush.  If you go, just be sure to follow 355 signs.

Ascending Georgia PassView from Georgia Pass

After emerging from the narrow trail, we drove past tree line and were greeted with a magnificent view.  We were slightly disappointed that we had yet to see any Aspens, but once we reached the top of the pass, we were able to see the gold foliage awaiting us on the other side.

Georgia Pass 11,585 feet elevationGeorgia Pass – elevation 11,585 feet.  Mount Guyot sits in the background.

Driving Georgia PassDescending the pass towards Jefferson, the road is well maintained and easily traveled by all vehicles….And is surrounded on either side by glowing Aspens.

Aspen Gold and Blue SkyContrast of the golden Aspen leaves against the Colorado blue sky.

Georgia Pass goldThe golden leaves continued around every corner.

Community AspensAspen Field

Lucky folks to live amongst the Aspens.

Cows with a ViewStopped to say “Hello.”

 

Aspen Grove on Weston PassTree on Weston Pass

Gold Aspens Weston PassWeston Pass Aspens

Once we finished Georgia Pass, it was still early in the day, so we continued down the highway and explored a portion of Weston Pass.  We found a few more amazing displays of fall color.

 

If you are curious about the history of Breckenridge and Summit County, here are two interesting websites:

Good Times Adventures: Gold Fever in Our Backyard

Summit County, Colorado: Mining History

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Spooky Run

The spooky night run is one of Rising Sun 4WD Club’s annual events and a favorite for families. It is a late fall fun run with a potluck picnic.  The kiddos get to wear their Halloween costumes and the drivers get into the season by decorating their trucks with Halloween lights. Bandit even had a good time sniffing out leftovers at the potluck while being chased by the kids. Barbour Fork trail is typically an easy trail, but add a little snow at the top and some broken parts, it turned into a long, cold, but fun evening.

Camping & Wheeling in Montezuma

We celebrated our long Columbus Day weekend and welcomed the first day of Fall with an overnight camping and wheeling trip in the mountains.  Our trio was excited to get outside and breathe some fresh mountain air.

We started the weekend with a foliage filled drive across Loveland Pass and set up camp just outside of Keystone near Montezuma Road.

We spent the rest of the morning and afternoon taking in the scenery from a couple of 4×4 trails.  Our first trail was Chihuahua Gulch; It is a short drive, but one of the most difficult trails off of Peru Creek.  A rocky and muddy drive with numerous water crossings, the road abruptly ends after approximately 2 miles and turns into a hiking trail.  We already had a second 4×4 road on the agenda, or else we would have taken advantage of the hike which leads to a lake at the base of Grizzly Peak.

After heating up some chili for lunch at the bottom of Chihuahua Gulch, we traveled a few miles to the town of Montezuma, and headed up to Santa Fe Peak.  The trail climbs to the summit at 13,160 feet and provides some pucker factor for passengers with lots of switchbacks and exposed shelf roads.  However, the views make this drive worthwhile.

After a successful summit, it was time to head back to the campsite.  We fished (no bites), ate some bison burgers (lots of bites), and relaxed by the best campfire ever.

 

Here’s a short video of the adventure:

Red Cone Pass

Group at rock gardenLast weekend, some friends and I went to Red Cone Pass south west of Denver. Unfortunately K was still in San Diego, so it was just Furry B and me on this trip. This 4×4 trail is considered moderate and the views are some of the best on any front range trail I have been on to date. We met at the Aspen Park shopping center in Conifer, fueled up and headed down the road. The group consisted of two 100 Series Cruisers, an 80 Series and an FJ40, so it was a pretty good representation of the Land Cruiser family. We aired our tires down soon after we left the pavement and headed up the trail. Clouds were looming overhead and we hoped for some clearing as wet rocks are no fun. Immediately the trail narrowed with lots of loose rock and we arrived at our first obstacle. All of us crawled over the rock in the middle of the trail with no problem and continued on. Next was the “rock garden” – an area of large loose rocks that you had to carefully navigate which then brought us to a beautiful Aspen grove. Switchback, after switchback we continued up the trail gaining elevation.

This trail is notorious for being a tire eater, so careful tire placement was a must. Nearing treeline we could see the surrounding mountains and the clouds finally gave way to bright blue skies. We entered the “meadow” and stopped for snacks and to let the kids and dogs stretch their legs. This was a relatively flat area above treeline and the last stopping point before you make the uphill push to the summit. After the kids and slobbery dogs were worn out, we piled back in the trucks and made our way up the loose rock trail. Finally we made the summit at 12,801 feet and stopped for pictures. The temperature was in the upper 50’s with clear skies, so we couldn’t have asked for better weather. What an awesome panorama. There were even some large snow fields still lingering near the tops of the mountains.

Mountain Goat hitching a rideAs we started our descent, we noticed two white shapes on the trail below. As we got closer, we realized they were Mountain Goats out for an afternoon stroll. We quickly snapped a few pictures as they made their way up the nearby ridge.

The sun was beginning to set and the shadows from the mountains slowly crept up the trail. When we finally made it below treeline, we were greeted by some mule deer grazing in a small pasture. Just before sunset, we arrived at the trail-head, aired our tires back up and decided to grab some pizza at JJ Madwells in Conifer before heading home. It was a great ending to an awesome day on the trail.

 

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3rd Annual 100s in the Hills

After months of emails, texts and conference calls with the 3 other Co-Directors, it was finally time to hit the road. Bandit and I had the Cruiser and trailer packed up and we were off for the 3rd Annual 100s in the Hills event. Some of you might remember a few years ago a trip we took to the San Juans to camp and wheel with some friends. Well, this small excursion has grown significantly in the past three years to a nationally recognized event. This year we had almost 30 vehicles from all over the country, 65 people in attendance and twenty-three sponsors. Located in a remote area where everyone is to be self sufficient, we require all participants to practice the leave no trace principles. This event takes quite a bit of logistics and planning, which was completely worthwhile. No one left disappointed.

Unfortunately Kristy was out of town on business, but she is sure to attend next year. I wrote an article that was published in the November/December issue of Toyota Trails magazine on this years event. Please click below for the online edition of the article page 19:

Toyota Trails Nov/Dec 3013

Below are more pictures and a link to the 100s in the Hills Facebook page:

Facebook/100s in the Hills

Day #1: Clear Lake family fun run

Day #2: Ophir Pass & Imogene Pass

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Day #3: Black Bear Pass

Day #3 continued, Directors run back to camp and night run:

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Cruise Moab: Day 2 & 3

Our second day on the trail was a scenic one and one that is relatively new to the events at Cruise Moab.  We were to travel about 35 miles on the Dome Plateau trail and head out to one of the best views in the area.  We got up, made some breakfast (steak and eggs) and met our group for the short 20 mile drive down the Colorado River canyon to our trailhead.  We had 12 trucks on this trip and a lot of ground to cover, so as soon as we arrived at the trail, we aired down our tires and headed out.  This trail was more scenic than technical (for the most part…).  After a few hours, we stopped at an overlook that truly was amazing.  It overlooked the Colorado River with the Fisher Towers, Professor Valley and then the La Sal Mountains in the background.  Great backdrop for some lunch.

K getting ready for lunch

We still had quite a bit of trail ahead of us, so we headed to the next destination, the sand caves.   Moab is composed of sand stone, slick rock and more SAND and these natural caves were not very deep, but provide great cover from the elements.  Not to mention, they are about 20 degrees cooler than being outside.  I am sure the ancients used them for shelter in the past.

We had one more stop before the trail was over, but we had to find it first.  There are some abandoned log cabins that were used as shelter while the area was being mined.  Our trail leader decided to try an area that could be a shortcut to the cabins.  There were a few obstacles, but nothing we couldn’t manage with some careful spotting.  After we got everyone through, I looked at one of my maps and this area said, “old Jeep trail, not recommended, nearly impassible”, funny…  it didn’t say “old Land Cruiser trail, not recommended, nearly impassible”.  We soon found the cabins and explored the area.  The weather is so dry in the desert, it helps to preserve these cabins.  They were in great shape.  We also found an old mine behind one of the cabins.  You could go in about 200 feet and then you could see where they blasted it closed.  Glad we brought flashlights.

After playing archaeologist, we finished up the trail and headed back to camp.  It was raffle and dinner night, so we didn’t want to be late.  There was a large tent set up and we joined some friends and waited for the buffet, which was catered by Sunset Grill.   We had a choice of chicken or beef and all kinds of sides and salads.  It was really pretty good.  After we ate, they started the raffle, which everyone who registered for the event received one ticket.  Those who felt lucky bought as many extras as they wanted.  I couldn’t blame them as there were some very expensive items being given away (bumpers, roof racks, winches, tires, vehicle fridges) high dollar stuff from supporting Land Cruiser and 4×4 vendors.  We didn’t win anything this time…

This was the night the moon lit up the sky like a small sun.  We got the idea to do a night run, so we petitioned around and ended up getting three 100 series Cruisers, one 80 series and a 4runner.  What better trail to do on a full moon night than “Hells Revenge”?  It is rated a difficult trail with lots of very steep ascents and descents and some pretty wild obstacles.  It was a great time and took us about 4 hours (after we were yielded to by a group of about 15 Jeeps, ask me about it, pretty funny story).

We were exhausted when we got back to camp at 1 am, so we enjoyed a brew and hit the rack.

The next morning we decided to hang around Moab instead of doing another trail.  We drove through Arches National Park (it never gets old) and ate lunch at Eddie McStiffs, which was really good.  I had a salmon burger and K had the chicken gyro.  When we got back to camp, we just relaxed and got things ready to pack up the next morning.  Already looking forward to Cruise Moab 2013!!

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Cruise Moab 2012

As most of you know, we are Toyota Land Cruiser fanatics.  I bought my first Cruiser – a 1972 FJ40 in 1994 – and have been hooked ever since.  We currently own a 2002 UZJ100, which has been built and modified as an expedition/trail rig.  Every year the Rising Sun 4×4 club of Colorado puts on one of the best Toyota 4×4 gatherings there is: Cruise Moab.  This year was no different, where we basically took over an entire campground for almost a week and rode the famous Moab trails.  As usual, there were rigs from all over the country, including Canada.

Check out K driving the FJ 40 “Meanie”!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyF21JSJ3nE&feature=youtu.be

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJBIm1gJ0zw&feature=youtu.be

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJa9VnJKceY&feature=youtu.be

Here are some pics:

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