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Mountain Biking: Colorado > Rio Grande National Forest > Divide Ranger District

Quick Facts

Stony Pass Road 520

Difficulty: Intermediate to Expert

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

This is a scenic and remote primitive road that is a popular route between the historic mining towns of Creede and Silverton. Numerous mining claims, mines, and associated structures are found along the route, particularly as you drop over the Continental Divide and begin the descent from Stony Pass into Silverton.

The road begins just beyond Lost Trail Campground and has a well-defined double tread. The Stony Pass Road continues over the Divide and into the San Juan National Forest where the road designation number changes to Stony Pass Road #737. The distance between Lost Trail Campground and Silverton is approximately 25 miles. (Average travel time between Lost Trail and Silverton is 3 to 3 1/2 hours; between Creede and Silverton is 4 to 4 1/2 hours.)

The route passes through aspen, spruce/fir, willows, parks, and up through high alpine slopes to Stony Pass (elevation 12,588 feet). Just beyond Lost Trail Campground, to the north of the road, lies Lost Trail Creek Trail #821, which serves as the access route to West Lost Trail Creek Trail #822. Trail #822 is designated as a National Recreation Trail (foot and motorcycle trails only).

Brewster Park, about 2 1/2 miles long, is located approximately 3 1/4 miles from Lost Trail Campground. The Rio Grande River runs through this park and then parallels the road for its entire length to Stony Pass. The headwaters of the Rio Grande River is formed by drainages leading from the Continental Divide in the Pole Creek Mountain Area. Several active beaver ponds with lodges can be seen in Brewster Park, and fresh aspen cutting is usually in evidence. Timber Hill is located just beyond the west end of Brewster Park and climbs for just over 3/4 mile from the Park to the top of Timber Hill.

This portion of the route is fairly steep, rocky, and narrow. The Beartown Road #506 junction lies 1.4 miles beyond Timber Hill and another 0.5 mile brings you to the Pole Creek Crossing and Pole Creek Trail #820 (foot and motorcycle trail only). It is not unusual to have water come in at the bottom of vehicle doors at this crossing or even to find the crossing impassable during early summer due to high water. This is dependent on the winter snowfall and spring run-off.

For the next two miles, the route makes a gentle ascent through another park and then begins to climb some 2,500 feet over the last six miles to the summit of Stony Pass. The La Garita Stock Driveway Trail #787 intersects the road from the northeast approximately one mile below the summit, then runs up the road for approximately 0.7 mile where it leaves the road turning south into the Weminuche Wilderness. (Foot and motorcycle trail only on the trail to the northeast, and foot travel only on the trail to the south.)

While that portion of the Stony Pass Road located on the Divide Ranger District of the Rio Grande National Forest ends at Stony Pass, the route continues over the Continental Divide and drops steeply (2,500 feet) over the next 3 1/2 miles, as you descend to Silverton. The remaining 6 1/2 miles into Silverton is relatively level and can be traversed by two-wheel drive.

The Durango-Silverton narrow gauge railway terminates at Silverton. Two trains run passenger excursions daily between Durango and Silverton. Numerous gift and craft shops along with several restaurants, line the streets of this historic mining town.

Midsummer usually brings a profusion of wildflowers and breathtaking color to the mountainsides adjacent to this road, especially as you approach Stony Pass from either direction. Columbines are often so abundant they color whole hillsides.

Several road and trail spurs lead away from Stony Pass Road #520. Four-wheel drive vehicles are required to use only those routes that are marked with white arrows (Stony Pass Road #520 and the Beartown Road #506). Four-wheel drive cross-country travel is prohibited. Potential campsites are plentiful along the route. Campers may use vehicles to access campsites which lie within 300 feet of the road, as long as no soil or vegetative damage occurs. Campers are also reminded to carry an ax, shovel, bucket, and extra water when building fires.

Have a good and safe trip!

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Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Tent Camping Campgrounds along the way
ICON RV Camping Campgrounds along the way
ICON Viewing Historic Sites Mining claims, mines, and associated structures
ICON Mountain Biking Forest Road 520 and FR 506
ICON ATV Riding Upper part of Forest Road 520 and FR 506
ICON Motorcycle Riding Upper part of Forest Road 520 and FR 506; dirt bikes

Related Activities
Beartown Road - This scenic, remote and primitive road that is a fairly popular side trip off the Stony Pass Road (Forest Road 520) between Creede and Silverton.

Continental Divide - Carson Saddle to Stony Pass ( - Excellent views and good fishing and campsites can be found along this entire trail segment.

Continental Divide - Hunchback Pass to Stony Pass - Wide open, grassy, rolling hills and plateau like country is traversed. Numerous small "potholes" dot the landscape along the trail.

Lost Trail Campground - The campground is located 38.2 miles southwest of Creede on Forest Road 520. There are numerous attractions to tempt the camper.

Pole Creek Trail (Saguache Ranger District) - The trail is not maintained since there is no public access and may be difficult to follow. An attraction is fishing in the lower part of the creek; the lake is not known to support any fish.

West Pole Creek Trail - Excellent views and an excellent assortment of wildflowers can be found in the West Pole Drainage. Few people hike in the West Pole Area. Hiking this trail is basically a cross-country type experience.

More Information

Visitor Information:

South Fork Chamber of Commerce, P.O. Box 12 , South Fork, CO, 81154, Phone: 719-873-5512

Rio Grande County - South Fork, Del Norte, Monte Vista, P.O. Box 577 , South Fork, CO, 81154, Phone: 800-571-0881 or 719-873-5512, Fax: 719-873-5693, www.southfork.org


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