Elwood Pass  
USGS 7.5' Map: Elwood Pass, Wolf Creek Pass
Difficulty: Number: Miles: Altitude: Obstacles: Time:
Easy 4 FR 667 17.50 7,632 to 11,631 ft. 3-Steep Hills 2-3 hours
County: Archuleta, Mineral, Rio Grande
Adopted by: Creeper Jeepers Gang P.O. Box 4583 Durango, CO 81302
Managed by: San Juan National Forest
Pagosa Ranger District
180 Pagosa Street, P.O. Box 310
Pagosa Springs, CO 81147
Summary: Elwood Pass starts out as an easy graded road, called the East Fork Road by the Forest Service, which slowly changes to a rougher road with a few short hill climbs and one longer steep hill climb. The Pass does not have any views as it is in a small meadow.
Attractions: Historic Cabin, Waterfall
Agency - December 1 to May 14
Best Time: June - Upper section may still be snowed in
July - Best
August - Best
September - Best, fall colors
October - Early snows may close the road
Trail Heads
Continental Divide Scenic Trail
Bonito Pass Trail
Silver Pass Trail
Windy Pass Trail
Treasure Mountain Trail, FT565 - Motorcycle only
Camping: The East Fork Campground is at the start of the Elwood Pass road. There are many dispersed campsites along the road, mostly along the lower section.
Base Camp: This would be a good base camp area to hike the many trails that leave the East Fork drainage. The area to the east of Elwood Pass has more forest roads to explore.
Fall Colors: Average - Most of the road runs through pine forest. The lower section has meadows with aspen groves.
Navigation: From Pagosa Springs, CO. head northeast on US-160 East. Continue to follow US-160 for 10.6 miles. Turn right onto FR 667 and pass the East Fork Campground. This is the Elwood Pass / East Fork road.

From South Fork, CO. head west on US-160 West for 31.8 miles. Turn right onto FR 667 and pass the East Fork Campground. This is the Elwood Pass / East Fork road.
History: Elwood Pass was used by the Utes to reach the hot springs at Pagosa Springs. In 1876 early travelers cut a rough road over the pass. Then in 1877 a charter was granted to the Conejos, Pagosa Springs and Rio Grande Toll Road Company to build a toll road up the Alamosa River, over the pass and down to the San Juan River. By 1878 mail was being carried over the road between Summitville to Pagosa Springs. In 1880 the U.S. Army improved the route to connect Fort Garland on the east side of the San Luis Valley, with Fort Lewis in Pagosa Springs. This is why it was known as "Soldiers' Road" or "Military Pass". The name Elwood, as legend has it, came from contracting a local prospector's name, T.L. Woodvale.

This was the only way to cross the Continental Divide between Stony Pass to the north and the New Mexico border until around 1916 when Wolf Creek Pass became and automobile route. With Wolf Creek Pass open the use of Elwood Pass declined. In 1961 a natural gas pipeline was laid over the pass.

Wolle, Muriel. Timberline Tailings Athens, Ohio: Swallow Press, 1977. Print.
Koch, Don. The Colorado Pass Book, 3rd ed. Boulder, Colorado: Pruett, 2000. Print.
Helmuth, Ed and Gloria. The Passes of Colorado Boulder, Colorado: Pruett, 1994. Print.
Elwood Pass road starts out as a two lane graded gravel road where it leaves the highway. Past the East Fork Campground the road will follow the East Fork Creek up into the mountains. After about 5 miles you will come to private property. The road continues for over 3.5 miles through the private property with signs and fences along the road to let you know your crossing private property. About a mile from the first private property boundary is the Treasure Mountain Trail, FT565, which heads north toward Wolf Creek Pass.

After three miles of private property you will come to a small parking area with a short trail into the forest. This is the parking area for the Silver Creek Falls. They are not visible from the road, but a short walk will bring you to these moderately tall falls. The trail to the falls is a natural surface type trail which takes you through the pine trees. There are a few good views from the lower section if you get past the trees that line the banks of the creek.
Silver Falls

photo by:
Joyce M

Just past the Silver Creek Falls you will come to a right turn. This is Quartz Creek, FR684. Stay on the Elwood Pass road. Just past the intersection is the Creeper Jeepers Gang Adopt-A-Road sign. From here the road gets narrower and rougher.

There will be a long steep up hill section with loose rocks to navigate. It will become a ledge road for a short section and then it will work back down closer to the creek.
Ledge road section looking down hill

photo by:
Adam M

There are a few water crossings along the way. There will be two more short hill climbs to do as the road continues following East Creek.
Coming down one of the hill climbs. Paula K and Craig K in the jeeps.

photo by:
Adam M

After about 14 miles you will come to the McCormick Cabin, managed by the Forest Service.
McCormick Cabin

photo by:
Adam M

The rest of the climb to Elwood Pass is through the trees until you get to a small meadow that you loop around.
Upper section.

photo by:
Adam M

Meadow at the top.

photo by:
Adam M

Just past this meadow you will connect with the Park Creek road, FR380.
Elwood Pass.

photo by:
Adam M

Data updated - November 8, 2015      4WD Road driven - July 19, 2015      Copyright 4X4Explore.com - 2000-2015