One-way Distance: 2.4k/1.5 miles
XC Skill level:
Elevation: 9,711 - 10,136 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 1 hr. 15 mins.
Trailhead: Ironton Park
Attractions: Backcountry ski trail
Brooklyn is a backcountry ski trail in the Ironton Park Nordic Trails system south of Ouray, Colorado.With almost 700 feet of elevation gain the Brooklyn trail is one of the tougher trails in the Ironton system. Ironton Park itself sits in a high mountain valley along the Million Dollar Highway between the towns of Ouray and Silverton. The park is surrounded by steep alpine mountains that are dotted with the tailing piles of scores of abandoned mines.
The Ironton Park trailhead is about 8 miles south of Ouray on Highway 550. Late arrivers may need to park in an area about a quarter mile further down the road.
The Brooklyn trail begins off of the Saratoga trail. From the trailhead follow the Townsite Loop to the left to where the Saratoga trail begins. Continue along the Saratoga until you are almost a half mile from the trailhead to the sign in this photo. The Townsite Loop and most of the Saratoga are groomed trails.
The Brooklyn trail has a few pretty steep hills. It is easiest with a good pair of backcountry skis or snowshoes. Our first time on the trail was on classic skis and it was tough going in places. There was 3 feet of fresh snow that we were breaking trail through. The third time we did the trail we broke out the snowshoes and had a much easier time of it.
We don't mean to make the trail sound all blood and guts because there are some nice stretches that aren't very steep and the going is easy.
The trails cruxes are the creek crossings and a spot where the water runs down the middle of the road. Unless you are breaking trail they aren't too bad depending on how deep the snow is.
After passing the stretch where the creek runs down the middle of the road the trail comes to a somewhat confusing 3-way fork. The middle and right forks both lead to the same place so either one of them are good. Once you make the turn and go a short distance you should see one of the trails few blue diamond markers on an aspen tree.
After the fork the trail makes a steep climb and then comes to another creek crossing. Bear right through the willows and you will see where the road that the trail is following continues up the hill. This is the last of the creek crossings until the trail begins its descent.
The Brooklyn trail keeps up a steady climb and at the 0.63 mile point from where it first left the Saratoga trail it makes a sharp left turn and kisses up against the Brown Mountain trail.
From the trails highpoint you can enjoy some nice views of the surrounding peaks and get ready for all the nice downhill that lies ahead.
Stay to the left at the fork in the trail just past the 1 mile point. A map can come in real handy even if there are other tracks to follow because the other tracks might stray off of the Brooklyn trail like the ones in this photo.
The only place that might cause a little confusion along the long downhill run is at a switchback that comes up. Go to the left to stay on the Brooklyn trail. There is a silver diamond on an aspen tree that is growing up on the inside corner.
The smooth downhill continues with the only uphill part being a very short spot where the trail climbs up the other side of a creek crossing at Albany Gulch.
At the 1.7 mile point the Brooklyn trail rejoins the Saratoga trail and comes to an end. The downhill continues for another tenth of a mile or so along the ungroomed portion of the Saratoga trail. From there you can follow the groomed section of the Saratoga back to where the Brooklyn trail first departed from it and then on back to the trailhead. The total round trip distance for the Brooklyn trail beginning at the trailhead will come out to just over 3 miles.
As an added bonus there are quite a few bighorn sheep in the Ouray area most notably along the Million Dollar Highway as you leave Ouray and also on the cliffs above the hockey rink on the north side of town. It all adds to the wintertime fun that can be found around Ouray. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is grab your skis or snowshoes and 'Take a hike'.