Colorado Boy

Round Trip Distance: 1.8 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 9819 - 9947 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 45 mins.
Trailhead: Ironton Townsite
Fee: none
Attractions: Historic mine

The Colorado Boy Mine is located in the Ironton Park area south of Ouray, Colorado. The trail begins near the Ironton ghost town. From there a well marked trail leads to the Colorado Boy Mine which sits on a hill about 130 feet higher in elevation. The building that surrounds the vertical mine shaft of the Colorado Boy Mine is visible to passing motorists on the Million Dollar Highway traveling through Ironton Park.

To get to the trailhead from Ouray head south on Highway 550, the Million Dollar Highway, measuring 9 miles from the Ouray Visitor Center next to the Hot Springs Pool. Turn left onto County Road 20D. Most vehicles can manage to drive down the road and park near the townsite of Ironton where you can walk south a short distance to the Colorado Boy trailhead. Those that don't feel they can drive down the road can park near the highway or one of the wide spots a short distance down the road and begin hiking from there. It will only be about another quarter mile of hiking to the trailhead.

Whether you want to call the first sign for the Colorado Boy Mine the trailhead or just a marker that points you in that direction doesn't really matter because it is the best place to begin the hike.

Besides the ambience of the forest and the nearby creek hikers are treated to some incredible mountain scenery.

A few hundred yards down the road another sign comes up where the route to the Colorado Boy Mine branches off on the left.

From the turnoff the trail crosses a footbridge over Red Mountain Creek. You might notice from the trail markers that even this part of the trail is open to hiking only. The bridge isn't something that you would want to take a horse across anyway.

Just past the quarter mile point from the first Colorado Boy sign the trail comes to another branch that goes off to the right. At this point there is a registration box where you can sign in and let Search and Rescue know that you are in the area.

The next section of the trail is a very pleasant single track that makes a gentle climb along the side of the mountain above a seasonal stream.

Staying on the main route leads directly to the Colorado Boy Mine. According to a Forest Service website 'The Colorado Boy Mine is one of only three intact vertical mine shaft house structures in the Red Mountain Mining District.' In the uncovered section of the building on the left there is the mount from where a winch was bolted to the ground at one time. A cable would have ran up to a pulley that hung above the mine shaft.

The wooden planks that shore up the sides of the shaft probably made it look pretty modern back in the day. It sure looks like a dreadful hole to have to go down to earn a days wages.

There is a plaque inside the building that mentions some of the interesting history of the mine.

For most people the Colorado Boy Mine trail can be thought of as a wonderful short hike that happens to begin at a ghost town and ends at an abandoned mine that has been restored enough to withstand the elements, hopefully, for at least a few more decades. The trail shouldn't be too difficult for even casual hikers and should be well suited for families of all ages. Those that aren't used to hiking above 9,000 feet might need to go slow so they don't overdue it. There are a few primitive campsites on both sides of the highway that can accommodate tents and RV's. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.