Washington Gulch  
USGS 7.5' Map: Oh-be-Joyful
Difficulty: Number: Miles: Altitude: Obstacles: Time:
Easy 3 FR811 5.03 9,400 to 10,994 ft. NA 1-2 hours
County: Gunnison
Adopted by:      
Managed by: Gunnison National Forest, Gunnison Ranger District 216 N Colorado, Gunnison, CO 81230 970-641-0471
Summary: Washington Gulch road is a connecting 4WD road between Crested Butte and the Paridice Divide 4WD road.
Attractions: Scenery, Mining, Trailhead
Natural - Closed by heavy snows.
Best Time: June - Early, may still be drifted shut
July - Best late in the month
August - Best
September - Best
October - May have early snow
Trail Heads
Washington Gulch, FT403 - Hiking
Camping: There are dispersed campsites closer to Crested Butte along the road.
Base Camp: This would be a good area to base camp and explore Poverty Gulch, Slate River, Gunsight Pass, and Schofield Pass.
Fall Colors: Poor - There are few aspen higher up. Down near Crested Butte there are more small groves of aspen.
Navigation: From Crested Butte, CO. head north on 6th Street toward Maroon Ave. Go 0.2 miles. Continue onto Gothic Road and go 1.5 miles. Turn left onto Washington Gulch Road and go 2.4 miles past the private properties. Washington Gulch road will now cross 1.5 miles of county property before entering the National Forest.
History: In 1861, at the head of Washington Gulch, a small town of Minersville was started near the creek. Gold was the ore that attracted these placer miners. After the gold panned out the town was abandonded.

In the 1880s M.J. Gray and Joseph McCay discovered silver in Washington Gulch not far from the old Minersville. They started a town below their mine called Elkton. It was owned by the Elk Mountain Consolidated Mining Company. The town got a post office in 1881, which was closed the following year. There were boarding houses, cabins and a store, but no saloons or gambling houses. The Painter Boy was one of the main mines of Elkton. When the demonitization of silver happened in 1893, the mines closed and Elkton was abandonded. Fire destroyed most of the buildings in Elkton. Today a few old cabins that remained are now summer homes.

Jessen, Kenneth Ghost Towns, Colorado Style, Vol 2 Central Region Loveland, Colorado: J.V. Publications, 1999. Print.
Just past the housing development along Meridian Lake you will cross into the city of Crested Butte property. The road will become graded gravel as it follows Washington Gulch. After about a mile and a half, in a grove of pine trees, you will cross a fence line and be on National Forest. Just past the fence you will come to an intersection. The right turn is a short spur road, FR811.3A1, which passes a few dispersed campsites before ending at a large talus slope on the side of Gothic Mountain.

The left will continue up Washington Gulch. After the road curves to the west you will pass another spur road that goes down to the creek. Following the main road you will pass a few more spur roads that go to campsites. After a mile you will come to a driveway on the left to private property. Staying to the right you will come to a sweeping curve that has a road to the right going to some private homes. This location is the site of the old town of Elkton.
The road will continue south and then head back north passing another home. Past this last home you will come to a very sharp hairpin turn. Above this turn is the Painter Boy Mine.
Painter Boy Mine

photo by:
Adam M

At the next curve in the road you will come to a parking area for the Washington Gulch Trail, FT403. Past this parking area the road will become narrower as it heads across the side of Mount Baldy and ties in with the Paradise Divide road.
Data updated - December 22, 2018      4WD Road driven - August 12, 1999      Copyright 4X4Explore.com - 2000-2018