The Alpine Loop is a combination of two great 4x4 roads, Engineer Pass and Cinnamon Pass. These trails are roughly centered in the... more » spectacular San Juan Mountains in southwest Colorado between Lake City, Silverton and Ouray. People come from all over the world to travel this area, often referred to as “Switzerland of America.” Although much of these two routes are easy, they both climb above 12,600 feet, where conditions can change quickly. Several short stretches definitely require a moderate rating, which imparts a bit of a thrill factor to the drive, especially for novice drivers. If starting in the town of Ouray, you have an option of reaching the loop via a shortcut route up Mineral Creek. This route is mostly moderate with a few short sections some may consider difficult. We’ve driven our stock Grand Cherokee up it many times without incident. Engineer and Cinnamon Passes are usually the first to be plowed, but we recommend waiting until mid June to allow a little time for the trail to dry out. Most of the route is on BLM land. For latest conditions, contact the San Juan Mountains Center in Silverton at (970) 387-5530 (closed in winter).
Moderate. Narrow, steep and rocky in places. Possible muddy spots in early summer as melting snow keeps the route wet in places. If concerned about getting up more difficult Mineral Creek, start in Lake City, or take County Road 2 north from Silverton. Stock 4-wheel-drive SUVs with moderate clearance can do Mineral Creek with patience and careful tire placement.
This trail is one of 100 trails from the book Guide to Colorado Backroads & 4WD Trails by FunTreks Publishing, available at http://www.funtreks.com