Farewell Gulch  
USGS 7.5' Map: Gold Hill
Difficulty: Number: Miles: Altitude: Obstacles: Time:
Easy 2 FR237 2.00 8,160 to 8,480 ft. None 1 hour
County: Boulder
Adopted by:      
Managed by: Roosevelt National Forest, Boulder Ranger District 2140 Yarmouth, Boulder, CO 80301 (303)541-2500
Summary: Farewell Gulch is a network of 4WD roads off of the Switzerland Trail 4WD Road.
Attractions: Camping
Natural - Closed by heavy snows.
Best Time: June - May be open unless heavey snows
July - Best
August - Best
September - Best
October - Best
Trail Heads
Camping: There are many dispersed camp sites along the network of 4WD roads.
Base Camp: Good area to base camp with access to many 4WD roads along the Switzerland Trail.
Fall Colors: Poor - Pine forest.
Navigation: From Boulder, CO. head west on Colorado-119/Boulder Canyon Drive toward 9th Street. Continue to follow Colorado-119 for 5.1 miles. Turn right onto County Road 122/Sugarloaf Road and go 4.7 miles. Turn right onto Sugarloaf Mountain Road and go 0.8 miles to an open area above the private homes. Turn left onto the Switzerland Trail road and go 0.4 miles. Turn left onto the Farewell Gulch road network.

From Nederland, CO. head west on West 2nd Street toward North Jefferson Street going 0.3 miles. Continue onto Colorado-72 W/Caribou Street and continue to follow Colorado-72 West for 3.1 miles. Turn right onto Sugarloaf Road and go 5.6 miles. Turn left onto Sugarloaf Mountain Road and go 0.8 miles. Turn left onto Switzerland Trail road and go 0.4 miles. Turn left onto the Farewell Gulch road network.
History: The Switzerland Trail railroad grade began in its middle at the town of Sunset. Sunset was the terminus for the Greeley, Salt Lake & Pacific narrow gauge railroad line that ran 13.2 miles up Four Mile Creek from Boulder. The line was completed in 1883, and Sunset, originaly known as Penn Gulch or Pennsylvania Gulch, was the end of the line. In 1894 a large flood damaged the tracks beyond repair and they were pulled up. In 1897 the Colorado & Northwestern built a second railroad over the same route, but moved the line to higher ground in places. Also in that same year the line was extended from Sunset up out of Four Mile Canyon along the north rim, around some low mountains, to the town of Ward, a distance of 12.8 miles. June 23, 1898 was the official passenger train over the tracks. On June 28th the formal opening to passenger traffic happened with officials and special guests from Denver riding the train. It was advertised as the "Formal opening of the Whiplash Route from the verdant valley of Boulder to the cloud kissed camp at Ward". The railroad crossed over Culbertson Pass, originally called Gold Hill Pass, just west of the famous Mount Alto area. The pass divides Lefthand Creek to the north and Four Mile Creek to the south and is located at the long curving cut in the hillside west of Mount Alto. In 1904 the second portion of the Switerland Trail line was completed from Sunset to Eldora, a distance of 20.1 miles. This section climbed up the south side of Four Mile Canyon to Sugarloaf Mountain and then headed west to Eldora. The line was also called the Whiplash Route due to the back and forth course of the tracks, similar to the whips used at the time by drivers of stages and wagons.

Near Sugarloaf Mountain, the town of Sugarloaf once existed. It started in the early 1860s when prospectors found gold ore and used an arrastra to crush the ore to free the gold. Once the surface ore was depleted the area was abandonded. In 1873 another boom took place when tellurium containing gold and silver was discovered. The Livingston Mine near Sugarloaf produced $300,000 worth of gold. After it closed a prospector named Miles discovered rich gold ore in 1902 in a potato patch close to the old mine. In a week Miles prospected $20,000 from the potato patch using a scraper. Of course the mine was named the Potato Patch. In 1915 the United States Gold Corporation constructed a large cyanide mill near Sugarloaf to process low-grade ore. By 1940 the mill was closed and during World War II the equipement in the mill was pulled during a scrap drive.

Because the Colorado & Northwestern could not make it on the revenue from hauling mine ore, it turned to tourists to finance the line. A 20x30 foot depot, sidings and a wye were installed at Sunset. The Columbine Hotel in Sunset put up the tourists and kept them fed in the large dining hall. In 1909, the Colorado & Northwestern Railroad was replaced by the Denver, Boulder & Western, often dubbed the "drink beer and wine" by its carefree passengers. In 1919 a flood washed out miles of track and took out some of the railroad bridges causing the line to shut down and the tracks pulled up leaving the rail road grade as a rough road. The demise of the line came from a variety of factors, including: the extremely harsh winter conditions in the Rocky Mountains, which limited the tourist trade to about four months per year, forced frequent line closures, and periodically killed train crews, plus the advent of the automobile and the closure of the surrounding mines.

Jessen, Kenneth Ghost Towns Colorado Style, Volumn 1, 1st ed. Loveland, Colorado: J.V. Publications, 1998. Print.
Wolle, Muriel Sibell Stampede to Timberline, 2nd ed. Athens, Ohio: Swallow Press, 1974. Print.
Helmuth, Ed and Gloria The Passes of Colorado, 1st ed. Boulder, Colorado: Pruett Publishing, 1994. Print.
Starting from the east end, off of the Switzerland Trail 4WD Road, you will head into a shallow valley with some rock outcrops on the right. Just before the rocks is a road to the right to a campsite. On your left is an un-numbered spur road that ends after a short distance. Just a bit down the road will be another right spur road up to a campsite by the rocks. Next is an intersection with FR237.1 going left, down the head of Farewell Gulch. On your right will be another camp site. Following the road down the valley you will pass another camp site on your left. The road will continue down hill as a two track through the open valley finally coming to a turn around above some private homes.

Back up at the intersection, head right, or straight ahead to start FR237.1D. There will be a long mud puddle to go through then another camp site on the right. Next you will come to another four way intersection. The road on the right is FR237.1B, which goes back to the Switzerland Trail road. The road on the left is FR237.1H, which heads down along the side of Farewell Gulch. You will pass a spur on the left to a camp site. The road will only go a bit further before ending at another turn around. Back at the intersection, going straight will continue FR237.1D. The road will stay well used as you pass a spur to the left to a camp site. The road will go for a bit before coming to the next intersection. The right is FR237.1C which heads up a low rounded hill. At the top will be a camp site on the left and right. The road will drop down the other side of the hill and come to a hair pin turn. Off of the hair pin is another spur road to a camp site. Shortly past the hair pin turn FR237.1C will connect with the Switzerland Trail road.

Back on the other side of the hill, the road to the left, FR237.1D will immediatley come to another intersection. The road to the left is not a numbered road. Stay to the right and you will come to the last intersection. The road on the left is the rest of FR237.1D, which will become more of a two track. It will head into a more forested area before ending at a turn around. The road on the right is FR237.1I, which will head down through the open forest to a large dirt area, and then connect with the Switzerland Trail road.

Data updated - January 27, 2020      4WD Road driven - July 18, 2006      Copyright 4X4Explore.com - 2000-2020