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Ouray/Lake City, Colorado, United States

Engineer Pass 4x4 Road

An exciting trail that’s great for new and experienced drivers alike.

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Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 19.6 miles / 32 km
Duration: Half day
Family Friendly • Dog Friendly
Overview: This trail, combined with Cinnamon Pass, constitutes the famous Alpine Loop. It is an exhilarating trip for drivers of all experience levels. There are many mines and points of historical interest along the route. The east side of the trail follows Henson Creek where you’ll find excellent places to camp and fish. For current conditions, contact the San Juan Mountains Center in Silverton at 970-387-553 (closed in winter).


Moderate. Most of the route is easy, but there are still a few narrow, steep places on the west side of the pass that will get your attention. This is a very high pass and should not be treated lightly. Don’t drive if snow covered. Caution should be used at all times especially in wet weather. Any 4x4 with moderate ground clearance and low-range gearing can do it.

This trail is one of 100 trails from the book Guide to Colorado Backroads & 4WD Trails by FunTreks Publishing, available at

Tips: Drive on a clear day to see all the views. Unlicensed vehicles are not allowed to ride through the town of Lake City to connect with Cinnamon Pass.

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 (

Points of Interest


Western End Starting Point

To start at this end of trail take Mineral Creek Trail from Ouray or County Road 2 from Silverton.

Engineer Pass

Great views from pass at 12,800 feet. Bear right and head downhill from here.

Schafer Gulch on Right

Stay left where Schafer Gulch goes right. This is a fun side trip if you have time.

Stay Right

Road on left goes to Matterhorn Creek Hiking Trailhead. Continue to stay right on main road.

Nellie Creek on Left

Forest Road 877 on left is Nellie Creek, a fun 4x4 side road.


Pass through historic Hensen marked by Ute-Ulay Mine on right.

Parking Area

Large parking and staging area on left. Unlicensed vehicles are not allowed east of this point.

Highway 149 in Lake City

Turn right on 2nd Street to reach Highway 149 in Lake City. South here goes to Cinnamon Pass, which is the second part of the famous Alpine Loop.

The Overlook

From this overlook you can see nearly forever. This is a great spot for lunch or just a quick stop to enjoy the amazing views!
Pictures in this guide taken by: FunTreks, FunTreks, Inc., Angie Williams

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