4×4 Offroad Trails – Chaffee County (Part 2)

Chaffee County has so many awesome trails to explore with your 4×4 we couldn’t fit it all on one page! This post will share even more fun trails to explore for beginners to experts.

4x4 Hill climbing

CC Image courtesy of NRMA New Cars on Flickr

Grizzly Lake

Skill Level: Difficult

Trail Length: 2.5 miles

Elevation: 11,250 feet

Nearby Towns: Buena Vista

This is a great trail to visit if you’re looking for some awesome sight seeing and challenging climbs and rock crawling. Your off-road vehicle may need some aftermarket parts to get over some of the obstacles here, and it will definitely need 4wd and some appropriate tires.

The trail starts in a residential area at the Grizzly Lake trail-head near Buena Vista and Johnson’s Village. You’ll pass a few houses and immediately come up to a fork in the road. Make sure to go left at the fork, as the right path will lead to a dead end. One you past the creek, the toughest part of the trail will appear. It’s a rough climb with large boulders and deep holes, so air down if needed to get the most traction as possible from your tires. After this, you’ll then approach a steep hill with loose rocks that can be challenging, so take it slow and try to avoid spinning your tires. Once you get past this hill, you’ll reach some shelves with loose rocks so it’s important to be careful on this part.

The rest of the trail is pretty straight forward and will take you to Grizzly Lake.

Hancock Pass

Skill Level: Medium

Trail Length: 4.5 miles

Elevation: 10,050 to 12,150 feet

Nearby Towns: Buena Vista, St. Elmo

This is an important pass, as it is the road that connects to many other trails within the area including Grizzly Lake, Iron Chest, Pomeroy Lakes and Williams Pass. While it’s mainly used as a connecting point to other major trails in the area, there are still some challenging obstacles and scenery to see. There are some old, abandoned buildings, waterfalls, lakes and other photo-worthy objects to explore and check out.

If you start out on the north end, you’ll travel along a dirt road to the Mount Antero trail-head. When you get to the fork in the road, continue left to get to Hancock Pass. The right fork will take you to St. Elmo. Hancock Pass starts out fairly mellow with a few bumps and potholes in the road. The first trailhead you’ll pass is Grizzly Lake, followed by Iron Chest and Pomeroy Lakes. After you pass these trailheads you’ll come up on your first piece of scenery, which happens to be some abandoned mines followed by an old cabin and a bridge. After the bridge you’ll reach the turnoff to get to William’s Pass, but continue straight to stay on Hancock Pass, which will lead you to Hancock Lake.

Iron Chest

Skill Level: Very Difficult

Trail Length: 2.5 miles

Elevation: 12,000 feet

Nearby Towns: Buena Vista

If you’re looking for a very challenging trail this is the one for you. Not only are there challenging boulders to climb and steep cliffs, but there are also some interesting photo ops to take advantage of on the ride up there. What makes this trail the most challenging is the “Rock Garden” near the start of the trail. It’s a long boulder field with massive rocks, which should only be attempted with the proper 4×4 accessories including a lift kit, skid plate, large tires and other necessary modifications. Even with the proper precautions, this trail will provide a challenge to even the most experienced off-road enthusiast.

Starting out at a small parking lot at the beginning of the trail immediately passing a trail marked “Grizzly”.  After you pass this sign you’ll begin climbing up the Rock Garden. Take this slow and carefully as you can do a lot of damage to your vehicle. When you start to see the trees thinning you will come to another rocky section that’s not as challenging, but still presents a difficult path. Once you reach the top you will come up on some old, but preserved mining buildings at the Iron Chest Mine. Be careful in this area however, as some of the ground may be unstable if you get out and walk around.

As always, before taking your vehicle off-road, make sure to visit your 4×4 mechanic for a full inspection and 4×4 service. Make sure all aftermarket parts and truck parts are installed correctly, and always try to use the buddy system on your journey.

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