Scotch Creek Pass  
USGS 7.5' Map: Hermosa Peak, Rico
Difficulty: Number: Miles: Altitude: Obstacles: Time:
Easy 2 FR550 11.47 8,560 to 10,637 ft. NA 2-3 hours
County: San Juan, Dolores
Adopted by:      
Managed by: San Juan National Forest,
Columbine Ranger District
San Juan National Forest,
Dolores Ranger District
367 S. Pearl St., Bayfield, CO 81122

29211 Highway 184, Dolores, CO 81323

Summary: Scotch Creek Pass is the old wagon road from Durango to Rico.
Attractions: Scenery, History
Dolores District side, Natural - Closed by heavy snows.
Columbine District side, Agency - Closed November 15 to April 30.
Best Time: June - Late after spring snow melt
July - Best, may still have snow
August - Best
September - Best
October - May be snowed closed
Trail Heads
Colorado Trail - Hike, Mountain Bike, Equestrian
West Cross, FT498 (aka Stagecoach Trail) - Hike, Mountain Bike
Camping: There are dispresed campsites along Scotch Creek on the west side, and a few along Hermosa Creek on the east side.
Base Camp: This would be a good area to base camp to explore the 4WD roads around Hermosa Creek.
Fall Colors: Very Good - There are large aspen groves on the west side along Scotch Creek.
Navigation: From Durango, CO head north on Camino Del Rio toward W College Drive for 0.7 miles. Continue onto US-550 N/N Main Ave. Continue to follow US-550 N for 26.1 miles. Turn left onto Purgatory Blvd and go 0.5 miles. Continue onto Hermosa Park Road and go 3.2 miles. Turn left onto Forest Road 578/Hermosa Park Road and go 7.4 miles. Turn left onto Forest Road 550 and start the Scotch Creek Pass road.

From Dolores, CO head east on CO-145 N/Railroad Ave toward Breanna Lane. Continue to follow CO-145 N for 33.5 miles. Turn right onto County Road S/FR550 and start the Scotch Creek Pass road.
History: The road over Scotch Creek Pass was driven by the desire to get the businesses of Durango connected to the new silver mines being discovered in Rico. The first toll road companies were started in 1875 and yet by 1879 little progress had been made. By 1881 the road to Rico from Rockwood, north of Durango was established enough to charge a toll. In May of 1881 some smelter equipement was making its way to Rico over the road, by June 3,500 pounds of ore arrived in Durango from Rico by mule train. By July of 1881 the mail was being carried over Scotch Creek Pass to Rico. The toll road was officially finished in September of 1881.

This route was also known as Old Scotch Creek Toll Road and the Pinkerton Trail.

Smith, P. DavidThe Road that Silver Built, 1st ed. Lake City, Colorado: Western Reflections Publishing, 2009. Print.
After leaving Hwy 145 the Scotch Creek road has a large pull off area. The road will head east following Scotch Creek as a wide single lane. Within a quarter of a mile you will pass a campsite on the right. The road will continue up the somewhat narrow canyon passing bare talus slopes of rock. You will follow the creek very closely eventually coming to a second campsite on your right. Most of the south facing slope of the canyon will have large aspen groves. The next three campsites on the right will come in fairly quick procession. The road will move a bit further from the creek as you come to the next two campsites on the right. The canyon gets a bit wider and the road will cross Aspen Creek coming in on the left. Just before this creek a spur road will go up to a campsite along Aspen Creek.
The main road will continue along the north edge of the creek, which has meandered through this wider flat area. The canyon will then narrow again and the road will be forced back close to the creek. Finally the road will cross Scotch Creek and head southeast up a side canyon. Where the road crosses the creek there is another campsite. The road will now head up the side gulch and do a switchback to climb up into the forest on the side of the canyon. You will cross four small gulches as you continue to climb. The road will then come to a small saddle where FR564 heads off to the south, then west. Staying to the left continue a short distance to a trail head for the Colorado Trail. The road will now follow along the side of a ridge climbing the last bit to a wide saddle, and Scotch Creek Pass. At this wide area the Stagecoach Trail will head east. Continue around the curve to the left and start down the east side of Scotch Creek Pass.
The road will continue along the side of the ridge, and then pass another trail head for the Colorado Trail. Past this trail head you will cross a shallow saddle and start down Hotel Draw. The road will work its way around the head of Hotel Draw and then down along the north side of the wide gulch. You will come out into a more open area and then cross a large meadow. The road will loop around to the north and then tie in with the Bolam Pass Road, FR578. Taking a right here will take you back to Hwy 550 north of Durango.
Data updated - February 25, 2020        4WD Road driven - (not yet)        Copyright - 2000-2020