Mineral Mountain Trail (Road 505 to Caribou Townsite), Mineral Mountain Trailhead, Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, Colorado
Mineral Mountain Trail (Road 505 to Caribou Townsite) - 10.6 miles
Mineral Mountain Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||10.6 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||8,758' - 10,040' (10,265' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+1,282' net elevation gain (+1,961' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Mineral Mountain Trail (Road 505 to Caribou Townsite) - 10.6 Miles Round-Trip
Mineral Mountain is located just north of Eldora, CO in the Arapaho National Forest near the Indian Peaks Wilderness boundary. The approach from Eldora follows Forest Road 505 through dense pine and aspen forests to high meadows on the massif, and old mining sites near the northern terminus on Caribou Road.
Good road-trail conditions are well-suited for families, runners, bikes and winter recreation. High meadows near the summit offer terrific views of the Divide and good wildlife viewing opportunties:
The trail climbs steadily east through dense pine and aspen to a clearing (.9 miles) with views of lower Middle Boulder Creek Valley, town of Nederland, Barker Reservoir (east) and Tennessee Mountain (south).
It bends sharply west (1.0 mile : 9,177') with a good look at the Continental Divide and Hessie Trailhead corridor. Travel steadies to a pair of switchbacks (1.55 miles : 9,460'), past which aspen give way to thick conifers draped in moss.
The trail crests (1.8 miles : 9,590') and undulates for a short time before climbing nearly 480' in just under a mile to a level clearing on Caribou Flat (3.5 miles : 10,170'). This lofty expanse offers panoramic views and is generally easy to explore.
The trail remains level through Caribou Flat for the better part of a mile up to a fork at 4.5 miles (10,240'); bear right towards the Caribou Town Site.
The trail - now off limits to non-resident vehicles - bypasses a dilapidated shelter and rises modestly on rockier terrain. It crests one last time (4.85 miles : 10,265') and drops down the east flank of Caribou Hill to Caribou Road and the Caribou Town Site (5.3 miles : 10,040').
Here Road 505's public access resumes north on a rugged 4WD Road to Rainbow Lakes; Caribou Road leads east back to downtown Nederland, and west to the base of Bald Mountain.
- N39 57.005 W105 34.145 — 0.0 miles : Mineral Mountain Trailhead (south terminus)
- N39 57.093 W105 33.136 — 1.0 mile : Trail bends sharply back west
- N39 57.171 W105 33.514 — 1.55 miles : Pair of switchbacks
- N39 57.259 W105 33.688 — 1.8 miles : Trail crests, dips then rises back
- N39 57.359 W105 34.367 — 2.5 miles : Trail steepens
- N39 57.616 W105 34.950 — 3.15 miles : Trail eases to southern edge of Flats
- N39 57.839 W105 35.013 — 3.4 miles : Trail levels through Caribou Flat
- N39 58.495 W105 35.375 — 4.5 miles : Fork in road - bear right
- N39 58.641 W105 35.044 — 4.85 miles : Trail crests - begin final descent
- N39 58.869 W105 34.715 — 5.3 miles : Northern terminus @ Caribou Townsite
- Be mindful of private property lines and side roads that branch off from the main.
- Autumn colors are exceptional.
- Moose inhabit this area. Sightings typically occur late summer - early fall when clear mountain passes facilitate passage from the west (common habitat) to east side (seasonal habitat) of the Continental Divide.
Directions to Trailhead
The Mineral Mountain Trailhead is unmarked and fairly well hidden, particularly if you're unfamiliar with the small town of Eldora.
From downtown Nederland, go north on Highway 72 for .5 miles to County Road 130 and make a right. Continue on Highway 130 past the Eldora Ski Resort turnoff to the town of Eldora.
Once in Eldora, CR-130 is also known as Eldorado Drive. Park at the intersection of Eldorado Drive and 6th Street. From the intersection, walk north up 6th Street toward a large wood cabin with elk antlers on the front. Walk to the right of the cabin and up a 4x4 dirt road. This is Jeep Road "505" - aka The Mineral Mountain Trail. Continue through the gate and follow the road-trail.
Boulder Ranger District
2140 Yarmouth Avenue
Boulder, CO 80301