The Beartown Road itself is the only route in the Bear Creek Drainage which is open to motorized vehicles. Most travelers include this scenic, remote and primitive road as a side trip while en route from Creede to Silverton via Stony Pass (Forest Development Road 520) .
The Beartown Road (Forest Road 506) leaves the Stony Pass Road (4-wheel drive) to the south, approximately 8 1/4 miles from Lost Trail Campground. The road then runs in a southwesterly direction for approximately 6 miles to Kite Lake (located just below the Continental Divide and Hunchback Mountain and Pass), where it dead-ends.
The route generally traverses a southeast exposure throughout its length and has a well-defined double tread. With the exception of the last mile, the route is not steep, but contains many rocks embedded in its tread, which makes much of the route slow-going.
The road runs mostly through an open valley in which Bear Creek is located. It then climbs steeply over the last mile through high alpine country to Kite Lake (12,100 feet elevation). At its junction with the Stony Pass Road, the Beartown Road drops 100 feet in 1/4 mile to the Rio Grande River, where it crosses the river and begins paralleling Bear Creek up the valley. This crossing generally poses no real problems except in early to mid-June, if spring run-off is high. Over the next 3 plus miles the road gradually climbs 400 feet in elevation. The road then climbs another 300 feet in the next 1/2 mile, to the lower end of the meadow in which the Beartown site is located.
Beartown is located in the upper end of this meadow. Evidence of the old mining town is nearly gone, with only telltale signs of where old cabins once stood. The structures that once stood near the old mine location are now collapsed and rapidly disappearing.
Just beyond the Beartown site, at the upper end of the meadow, the road begins to climb steeply (almost 900 feet in just over one mile) to Kite Lake. The road dead-ends at Kite Lake near an old mining shack that is till standing. Kite Lake sits in a partial bowl formed by the backbone of the Continental Divide with Hunchback Mountain and Pass just to the south. The lake is sterile, supporting no fish or other life forms.
Early to midsummer usually brings a profusion of wildflowers and breathtaking color to the mountainsides adjacent to the road, especially around and just beyond the old Beartown site. Columbines and multitudes of other species of wildflowers add color and beauty to the landscape.
Directions from Creede: Drive a little over 20 miles southwest on Highway 149 to the intersection of Highway 149 and Rio Grande Reservoir Road (Forest Development Road 520). Bear left at the junction and continue just over 18 miles west to Lost Trail Campground. Just beyond Lost Trail Campground, the road becomes Stony Pass Road (Forest Road 520). Continue west on this 4-wheel drive road for approximately 8 1/4 miles to Beartown Road (Forest Road 506). Turn left on the Beartown Road which runs south-southwest.
Late June through Mid-October
(NOTE: Contact the Creede office to see if road is open.)