Saturday, September 16, 2017
Red Cone, Webster Pass, Geneva Creek

The jeep group is making a trip to Red Cone and Webster Pass. Red Cone is one of my favorite trails as it offers a variety of terrain with a high point of fantastic, above timberline, views. I've been on this trail twice before and both times have progressed to the Radical Hill trail making for a "thru-trail" day. Today we'll "loop back" via Webster Pass, a trail I have yet to travel.

Coming down Webster, down in the trees, we were met by a gent standing at his motorcycle. He asked for a ride back to camp while a riding buddy would ferry his motorcycle back to camp. It seems a quad came around a corner, quickly and surprised him as he was progressing uphill at the corner. It caused him an upset and tumble with an injury to his left forearm. On the way to his camp near the Red Cone / Webster Pass eastern trailhead we passed his buddy on the way up for the bike. `hope everything worked out for he and his group.

With us back to the end of the trails the discussion came of "shall we tack on another trail today?" Geneva Creek was the trail of interest (I traveled it a few years ago - an in-and-out with above timberline views with old mining activity). One in the group headed for home while three of us decided to make full use of the day (we didn't realize how full it would be).

Geneva Creek is off of the Geneva / Guanella Pass road, a scenic road Ken and I first traveled via motorcycle September 1, 2003. Back when Ken and I were on the road - it was not paved fully paved. Today, it is fully paved and fairly heavily used for a scenic drive. We'll head from the south end at Grant Colorado north to the Geneva Creek campground. There are something like 42 campsites along the Geneva Creek road / trail as it travels higher into the valley. On this late summer weekend most of the sites were filled.

Up near the end, about timberline, we took the right fork in the trail and headed to what I call the "north spur" (right most yellow fork on the map below), to an old mine into Revenue Mountain. Mine entrances have been either collapsed or gated and locked to keep people out. Most are collapsed which leaves a depression on the mountainside and no view into the mine. We went to the mine's collapsed entrance and turned around - wanting to get to the end of the trail via the left fork before daylight runs out. We made the short trek to the end which is at the Sill mine. After a short visit with a few pictures we started to head out. We noticed, high across the valley at yet another old mine site (Britannic), a pickup parked sideways on the trail (quite unusual) with two people walking away. We figured it would be good to see if they needed a hand.

Driving to the "middle fork" we met to hear of their situation. Up at the mine site are a couple concrete equipment footings. Each with bolts protruding to fasten equipment. They caught the driver's side front tire and ripped the sidewall open (no chance of repair) - and had no spare tire. One in our group figured his spare could fit so up we went. If nothing else, we would be able to give the couple a ride out - but it'd be nice to get the truck out too.

Their truck would need to be pulled out of its stuck location and also have the tire changed. Having the truck on a flat surface would be nice. With one vehicle to the high side, the tail end of the truck was pulled up-slope to the flat area. The available spare tire fit and out we drove. With their truck back near Denver (closer to home and back into cell phone range) the spare was returned, we left, and they awaited family to help.

I arrived home about 12:20am - one long day. It was filled with good sights and a couple nice offerings of assistance to others.

7:00am Leave Fort Collins
9:00am Meet some in the group at Bailey Colorado, top off fuel
9:45am Meet at the air-down parking lot near the trailhead
10:06am Head to the Red Cone trail
12:16pm Arrive at the peak
12:26pm Leave the peak - it was windy and brisk
12:37pm Arrive at the Red Cone / Webster Pass intersection
1:29pm Start down Webster Pass
2:26pm End at the Webster Pass eastern trailhead
2:51pm Arrive at the salt shed / trailer parking / air-up lot. Decide to run Geneva Creek - but air up the tires a bit as there will be several miles of asphalt
3:47pm Arrive at the junction of Geneva Creek trail eastern end
5:07pm Arrive at the "north fork" / Revenue Mountain mine site
5:14pm Leave for the western end
5:35pm Arrive at the western end / Sill mine site
5:52pm Leave to check on the pickup
6:00pm Chat with the couple, drive up to their pickup. Decide we would give it a try to get their truck turned with perhaps getting a spare tire installed - or at least give them a ride out
7:59pm Start driving out, pickup under its own power
8:55pm Geneva Creek eastern trailhead - time to air up the tires to road pressure (24 to 32psi vs. 8 to 15psi for trails)
9:15pm Head south on Guanella Pass road to head back towards Denver to a drop spot near the city to change the spare out again
10:15pm Parking area near Denver to change the spare
10:41pm Head back to Fort Collins
12:20am Arrive at Fort Collins

In the map below, we first traveled the Red Cone trail, which is the red colored line in the left of the map. The associated blue line is Webster Pass. Those two were in a counter-clockwise loop.

From the Red/Blue for the first two trails, up the map is a black / yellow line set. That is Geneva Creek.

The day started with full, low clouds. I wondered if we'd be in the clouds for much of the trails today. The long views would be eliminated, but being atop a mountain in the cloud would be interesting.

Some blue sky.

Turning off of US-285 onto Hall Valley Road

Starting out on Red Cone. The aspen trees are getting nice.

At the first obstacle for the day. This used to be difficult but today all four of us will move through with no delay.

Above the aspen line and into the pine trees

Up near timberline

The views open!  South park is the wide flat area extending out on the right.

First - of - season fresh snowfall painting some tall peaks. Fort Collins had a wonderful thunderstorm Friday evening - grand lightning and thunder.

Up to Red Cone.
The straight, sloping line at center-left in this picture is the Webster Pass trail.

Red Cone is a trail that can have some intimidation factor though technically it is a reasonably easy trail.

Up top - 12,801 feet. Nice clouds and sun though the wind was quite strong and brisk.

Head'n down.

Red Cone / Webster Pass intersection. We'll re-group and spend some time enjoying company and scenery.

Rob & Tara

Louis and son


James and someone else out today. Two different era's of jeeps.

Webster Pass, for me, is wide and easy. Only one short section had a slight bit of "hug the high side" but even that wasn't much of a concern. James with the narrow CJ-5 had ample trail with to work with. Full width vehicles - that one section gets quite tight.

Easy width - enjoying the views

Red Cone

Rob & Tara

Louis & son


Around the corner was the tight-ish spot for me

Off of the trails, heading out to the county salt shed area on 285 to air-up and decide what's next (if anything)

Heading north on Geneva Road / Guanella Pass road

Heading northwest on Geneva Creek trail
Nice colors!


Looking up at the north spur / first mine (see annotation in next photo)

We'll get to that flat fan area - where the miners hauled out and dumped rock

Sitting at the mine. The depressed area up-left of the jeep is the collapsed entrance

Down from that first mine stop, heading to the west end of the valley to the Sill mine. The pickup truck's position can be found in this photo (you can't see the truck though). At the left door of this old cabin, look straight up to the tips of the trees right above the left door. Notice the light tan fan of rock (dumped out from the mine operation). That is the flat area, with footing and bolts, where the truck is.

We didn't see the truck having problems at that prior photo and headed to the end of the trail to the Sill mine. You can see one old rail and a few rail ties on the ground. You can barely see (in this photo) the rail bending towards the mine's entrance (again, collapsed).

Looking directly at the collapsed mine entrance. Bottom center of this photo you can see the rail bending and heading into the mine.

Backing away a bit for an overview. One of the pipes, partially buried, had water trickling out.

Mine entrance while looking further up. Maps show three other mines higher up - but no jeep trail to them - hiking only.

White dots on the mountain side - three mountain goats. There were two groups.

To the east, interesting clouds circling around one of the peaks

The stuck pickup. Above the pickup - across the valley - is the Sill mine we were just at.

Straightened out and getting ready to pull up to the flat area for a tire change. No more photos - tire change under flashlight / headlight.

A good day