From Ouray, this is the quickest and most direct way to the Alpine Loop and Engineer Pass, but it is also the most difficult. Road climbs up scenic narrow canyon and accesses Poughkeepsie Gulch and Mineral Point. Hidden waterfalls at Poughkeepsie entrance. This popular trail has limited parking at start and can get quite congested on busy weekends. Located in Uncompahgre National Forest and on BLM land. For current conditions call the Ouray Ranger District (970) 240-5300. In the summer, call the San Juan Mountain Center in Silverton at (970) 387-5530.
Difficult, but just barely so. Rocky and steep in places, especially at the beginning. Stock 4WD SUVs can do it with careful tire placement and patience. No room to pass along one stretch of narrow ledge road. High clearance, low range and skid plates recommended. Some offroad driving experience is helpful.
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 . This trail also described in FunTreks ATV Trails Guide, Silverton, Ouray, Lake City, Telluride.
This trail starts off pretty steep and rocky, so novice drivers may be intimidated at first. But with a little patience and adventuresome spirit, you’ll find this a fun way to reach Engineer Pass. If trail is too much for you, you can reach Engineer Pass by driving all the way around through Silverton and heading north on County Road 2. You have to drive the first half of this trail to reach start of difficult Poughkeepsie Gulch.
Trail conditions can change without notice. FunTreks, Inc. and its owner and employees are not responsible for injury, death, or vehicle damage as a result of using this guide. The content of this guide is the property of FunTreks, Inc. and is made available to the user pursuant to EveryTrail’s Terms of Service (http://www.everytrail.com/tos.php).
Coming from Ouray, you'll turn left off Highway 550 at sign for Alpine Loop and Engineer Pass. The road is wide at the beginning with room to park and unload unlicensed vehicles. It can get crowded on weekends.
Trail turns sharply uphill to the left over a large rock dome. Note sign on right for Poughkeepsie Gulch. If you walk downhill to the right, there is a great 3-tier waterfall to see. Upstream there are several more waterfalls.
Intersect with wider County Road 2. A sharp left uphill goes to Engineer Pass (available as eGuide from FunTreks). Continuing straight downhill on County Road 2 connects to Cinnamon Pass and California Gulch (both available as eGuides). County Road 2 continues all the way to Silverton.
Pictures in this guide taken by:
FunTreks, FunTreks, Inc.