Expedition San Juan Mountains September 2021-Part 2-Engineer Pass & Golconda Mine & Boarding House

Day 1 on the trails! After we got settled in the house, we had a trail meeting. The original plan was to get Black Bear Pass complete first. This is a trail that we all want to do, and it’s also a trail that is the most “Difficult” and we need perfect weather to do. Any rain and this trail is dangerous due to washouts, water falls, and slick rocks. We looked at the weeks weather and it looked good for sth week, so we decided to do easier trails on the first day. One of the guys in the group, just got his Jeep Gladiator JT, and wanted to” walk before he ran” with his new Jeep. So we decided to do Engineer Pass. In 2015 Tom and our group back then, did Engineer Pass all the way into Lake City. This trip we were not going all the way to Lake City but wanted to get to the Golconda Mine and Boarding house, then return back over Engineer Pass to Ouray.

4 Miles South of Ouray, right off US-500, the Million Dollar Highway is the turnoff for Engineer Mountain Road. There is a large pull off for trailer parking and a safe location to air down your tires. We air downed and did a radio commutations check and hit the trail. It’s not a hard trail, just slow as you’re climbing over smaller rocks and uneven trails conditions.

First stop is the Michael Breen Mine 1.5 Miles from the start of the trail. This is a really cool structor to see. Fun to imagine how the mine worked and the men woking here, also all before OSHA regulations! Here we helped a Subaru Crosstrek, who was coming down the trail. He already replaced 1 tire, and had a puncture on his spare. We helped them plug the tire and air up. They were with another Jeep, so they were not alone and they continued down the trail. Honestly, I do not know how they made it this far, without more damage.

Next stop as we continued up was a 1 room building, there was nothingtherl explain what it was, but off to the side was what looked like a boiler. We press up the Mountain to Mineral Point. There was a clean “newish” bathroom facility there, but the view of a ghost town was impressive.

We push on! Next is the “fork in the road, to either go North up Engineer Mountain or South toward Animas Forks. We push North and start the climb to Engineer Pass

Climbing Engineer Mountain is fairly easy, it’s a nice groomed first trail. You can make good time, just don’t go too fast, its a long drop off! At almost the pass, we come to Odom Point. It’s a large pull over area and we all backed in a made lunch. We are lucky that we have Clear skies and unlimited visibility with no smoke.

We make it to the Pass. there is alot of traffic there, taking picture so we just drive past down the East side of the mountain towards the Golconda Mine and Boarding house. . It’s very interesting to see the topographic difference between the East and West sides of the Mountain. The west side is steep ledges and the road hugs the side of the mountain. the East side is a nice long continuous slope with wide road.

The turn off is about 2.6 miles down Engineer Pass to the Golconda Mine and Boarding house. The trail is more rocky than the start of Engineer Mountain Road, It just smaller crushed rock, but I think slow and steady will win teh race, these rocks appear to be sharp, and don’t want to get flat tire!2.15 miles is the Golconda Boarding house.

The boarding house has been restored and looking in outstanding shape. It was fun to explore the house and other buildings to see what life was like here in the “hay day” of mining.

The day was getting late and we still have to cross back over Engineer Pass and back into Ouray, we wanted to be off the trail by sunset. You have to remember that when in the mountains, the sun sets fast once it goes down behind the mountains.

Day 1 is in the books

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