Lime Creek  
USGS 7.5' Map: Snowdon Peak, Engineer Mountain
Difficulty: Number: Miles: Altitude: Obstacles: Time:
Easy 2 FR591 11.10 8,790 to 9,676 ft. NA 2-3 hours
County: San Juan
Adopted by:      
Managed by: San Juan National Forest, Columbine Ranger District 367 S. Pearl St., Bayfield, CO 81122 (970)884-2512
Summary: Lime Creek is the old road from Durango to Silverton.
Attractions: Scenery, Mines
Natural - Closed by heavy snows.
Best Time: July - Late after spring snow melt
August - Best
September - Best
October - May be snowed closed
Trail Heads
Spud Lake Trail, FT661 - Hiking
Camping: There are a few dispresed campsites along the road.
Base Camp: This would be a good area to base camp to explore the 4WD roads to the west of Hwy 550, or the hiking trails to the east of Hwy 550.
Fall Colors: Very Good - There are large aspen groves on the east facing mountain slopes.
Navigation: From Silverton, CO head southwest on State Hwy 110/Greene Street toward 11th Street. Continue to follow State Hwy 110 for 0.6 miles. Merge onto US-550 S and go 10.6 miles. Turn left onto Lime Creek Road which heads down to an open parking area below the highway.

From Durango, CO head north on E 3rd Avenue toward East 7th Street for 0.7 miles. Slight left toward E 15th Street and go 105 feet. Turn left onto E 15th Street and go 0.2 miles. Turn right onto US-550 N/Main Avenue and continue to follow US-550 N for 28.4 miles. Turn right onto Lime Creek Road.
History: In 1917 with the increase in automobile traffic the old wagon road from Durango to Silverton was being upgraded to handle this new form of transportation. The exception to the old wagon road alignment was the construction of the new Lime Creek Road in conjunction with the Forest Service and San Juan County. During the construction the crews had to deal with the Lime Creek Burn area that had happened fory years earlier. The downed trees were everywhere and required removal. (This was before chainsaws.) As an added safety hazard every day they would hear dead trees fall, any one of which if close could kill the workers. By 1920 the road section from Durango to Silverton was nearing completion, including the Lime Creek Section that required a lot of blasting.

Lost Mine
In 1932 two brothers, Sull and Charlie Baker, sheep-herders from Aztec, New Mexico, were looking to make ends meet during the Great Depression. They were told of a mine at the head of West Lime Creek or Coal Creek that might allow them to earn some extra money. The mine had not been patented and the prospector who found it was dead. They started their search following Coal Creek and came out of the forest to a high meadow. They did not find the mine, but they remember sitting down near the lower part of the high meadow to rest where it became a steep slope near a creek. There was a waterfall a short distance away. In a spot where the tundra exposed a ridge of rock they took samples. They did not get the samples assayed right away. When they did the ore assayed out at $44,000 a ton (at $16 and ounce back then) for gold. They returned the next year but could not find the spot as more of the tundra had shifted during the harsh winter. To add to the story, many people have found float, chunks of ore, around Coal Creek. The float is a rusty brown color with large amounts of free gold in it.

In the 1940's the Lime Creek Road was abandoned when the state of Colorado decided to re-build the old Coal Bank wagon road to reduce the distance from Durango to Silverton.

Smith, P. DavidThe Road that Silver Built, 1st ed. Lake City, Colorado: Western Reflections Publishing, 2009. Print.
(I have not driven this road yet.)
Data updated - November 17, 2018     4WD Road driven - not yet     Copyright - 2000-2018