Where to find the start of this 4X4 Trail:
This trip is truly one of my favorite side trips, especially when I am doing a 4×4/off-road trip over Black Bear Pass because there is a cut-off road 3/4 of the way up Porphyry gulch so you do not need to back track all the way back to reach it. The turn off of Red Mountains Pass/The Million Dollar Highway/550 is easy to find, it is .7 miles South of the summit of Red Mountain and it looks like this—
Explosives, on a 4X4 trail?
Explosives you have got to be kidding? On a 4X4 trail high in the San Juan Mountains? That is crazy talk! But I guess there could be a chance, really having nothing to do with the Mining industry, but if you happen to find a foot long stick with a liquid apparently seeping from inside it, I wouldn’t suggest banging it on a rock to see what’s inside! What that orange sign is talking about is the fact that the Colorado Highway Department uses small howitzers to launch explosives in the Avalanches along Red Mountain Pass to set them off on their schedule, instead of Nature’s. Then they can be sure to have the Million Dollar Highway closed and are able to send in the rotary plows to clear the pavement off. So there is a chance that one of the rounds did not explode and could be laying around in the high country, hence the warning.
The Bullion King Mine Road/Porphyry Gulch road is a spectacular 4×4 Adventure in to the San Juan Mountains of South Western Colorado:
At this point the 4×4 trail quickly begins to climb and narrow and you are soon looking down on the Million $ Highway/Red Mountain Pass far below. You will pass through an area with tree stumps protruding up all over and at peculiar heights. Legend has it that this spot was logged in the Winter many a year ago so these trees where cut off at the snow level, and so this gives you a idea of the depth that the snow can reach. I would deduce that there was a forest fire here once, maybe in the Winter, because they all appear scorched. Which is also a rare event as the San Juan Mountains do not have much of a history of forest fires. There is also a real nice camp spot near the stumps after which the road really starts to climb-
Enjoy the twisty climb as you begin to ascend to Alpine Heaven on this 4×4 trail, but keep a eye open for the Bear on Bear Mountain as you enjoy the view south down the valley towards Silverton, Colorado! We are just getting started. Before this trip is done we will be hanging off a shelf road, rock hounding for Rusty Cubes and a short hike to a spectacular Alpine Lake, so hang on!