Roads for Off-Highway Driving in Boulder Ranger District, Roosevelt National Forest
Old mining and wagon trails and railroad grades weave across this area around Nederland and west of Boulder, Colorado. The mining and homesteading history has left a patchwork of private and public lands through which these roads pass. Stay on the roads. Off-highway does not mean off-road. All vehicles must travel on a designated Forest Service road. Get the Forest Service map. Most of these roads close for the winter and re-open between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.
Apex/Kingston Peak The Kingston Peak Road crosses an above-treeline bench at 12,000 feet elevation. This affords spectacular views of the nearby James Peak Wildereness Area, as well as more distant views toward Longs Peak in the north and Mount Evans in the south. However, it also means there is snow late in the year so the season is short. Much of the distance is on the high-clearance two-wheel drive Apex Road. About eight miles is true four-wheel drive, with some quite steep, rocky sections near the top. The road passes the trailhead for the non-motorized James Peak Lake Trail and Ute Trail. Apex and Kingston Peak Roads connect to many more four-wheel drive roads to the south, within the Clear Creek Ranger District. NFSR 353
From the north, take Colorado Highway 119 south of Nederland to County Road 16 (East Portal Road) west to County Road 4N (Mammoth Gulch Road) south, then one mile past National Forest System Road (NFSR) 176 (Mammoth Gulch). From the south take County Road 4 (Apex Road), from Colorado Highway 119 near Clear Falls, two miles north of Blackhawk. The Kingston Peak Road also connects to Alice on the Fall River Road, County Road 275. In Boulder Ranger District, Roosevelt National Forest.
Beaver Bog Road Popular road for mountain biking and four-wheeling in Boulder Ranger District, Roosevelt National Forest. FDR 113A. Accesses Sourdough Trailhead.
Bunce School Road This is an easy to moderate 4WD road. The easy way to do the trip is to start from the Peaceful Valley Campground and complete the loop on the Peak-to-Peak Highway. Popular road for mountain biking. FDR 115.
Caribou Flats This is a 4WD and mountain biking road. The north end is off the Rainbow Lakes Road, one mile below the Rainbow Lakes Campground. In the middle it passes the townsite of Caribou (at the end of Country Road 128 out of Nederland) where there is a network of old mining roads on a lovely open plateau with fine views both up to the mountains and down over the plains. The south end is at County Road 130 in Eldora. The descent to Eldora is steep and narrow, and the switchbacks may be difficult for a long vehicle. Most of it is moderate, both in terms of climb and technicality, except the steep, loose, rough grade at the Eldora end. The crossing of Caribou Creek between the Rainbow Lakes Road and Caribou can be waist deep in the spring and early summer. The 4WD section can be made into a loop with the Peak-to-Peak Highway (CO 72) and your choice of the Rainbow Lakes Road, Caribou Road (County Road 128) or County Road 130. The Rainbow Lakes Road is rocky, high clearance 2WD with both up and downhill. Caribou Road is gravel and possibly washboarded, with a constant climb to the west. County Road 130 is paved and fairly flat, since the main elevation change is on the 4WD road.. Popular road for mountain biking. FDR 505, 128J, 116J.
The north end is off the Rainbow Lakes Road, one mile before the campground. In the middle it passes the old mining townsite of Caribou, at the end of gravel County Road 128 (Caribou Road) out of Nederland. The south end is at County Road 130 near Eldora.
Coney Creek Road "There are some short steep hills and the road is continuously rocky. In wet times there are muddy pools that can hide large rocks. The Coney Creek crossing is very deep and can be impassible in spring. The road ends at Indian Peaks Wilderness boundary at the Coney Flats Trailhead for the Beaver Creek Trail. At this point the Coney Cut-off road, an especially steep and narrow road, connects northward to the Middle Saint Vrain Road. The Coney Cut-off is easier negotiated starting from the Beaver Reservoir end of the loop."
Bikers, this is a rough 4WD road that ends at the Indian Peaks Wilderness boundary. This can make a loop with the Middle Saint Vrain Road, but is probably better started from Camp Dick. Be aware of heavy 4WD traffic. NFSR 113. Accessible from County Road 96 at Beaver Reservoir
Fourth of July Road This is a rough 2WD road that gains elevation gradually along the way and ends at Buckingham Campground on the edge of the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Popular road for mountain biking. County Road 111
Gross Reservoir Area There are several interconnecting 4WD roads and some single track on the northwest side of Gross Reservoir. Popular road for mountain biking. FDR 238
Johnny Park Area A 4WD road connects Big Elk Meadows with Meeker Park. Near Meeker Park, FDR 119 turns north and climbs steeply to House Rock. This road also continues to Pierson Park. There are some side roads and trails. FDR 118 follows the northern boundary of the Boulder Ranger District, and FDR 119 is in the Canyon Lakes Ranger District. Popular road for mountain biking.
On the east end, take US 36 west from Lyons. Take the turn to Big Elk Meadows on FDR118 to get to Coulson Gulch Trailhead. On the west end, turn off CO 7 in Meeker Park on the Cabin Creek Road.
Lefthand Canyon There is a network of four-wheel drive roads ranging from easy to difficult. There are some very steep hills and sidehill "leaners." Be especially careful of the latter, as there have been a number of roll-over accidents in this area. A free trail guide for the area may be obtained at the Boulder Ranger District Office.
Access west of Buckingham Park, four miles west of Altona, off the Lefhand Canyon Road, on National Forest System Road (NFSR) 286. In Boulder Ranger District, Roosevelt National Forest.
Lefthand Park Reservoir Road This road is fairly steep, but not too rough for a four-wheel drive road. At the reservoir, there is fishing and a good view of the Indian Peaks.
Mammoth Basin Mammoth Basin, FDR 176 / Mammoth Gulch Road, County Road 4N is a network of roads from difficult 4WD roads to rough 2WD roads.. Popular road for mountain biking.
Mammoth Gulch The Mammoth Gulch Road (NFSR 176) is fairly easy and not very steep. It continues up the valley for two miles until closed by a gate on private property. The Nebraska Hill Road, NFSR 183 forks right (north) just after Mammoth Gulch Road leaves 4N. It is a mile long to its end at the site of the old reservoir where there is good fishing and camping. A half mile farther west on 4N, the Baltimore Ridge Road, NFSR 416 turns left (south) and climbs a mile up to an old mining area.
From the north, take Colorado Highway 119 south of Nederland to County Road 16 (East Portal Road) west to County Road 4N (Mammoth Gulch Road) south, then 1.5 miles to National Forest System Road (NFSR) 176. From the south take County Road 4 (Apex Road), from Colorado Highway 119 near Clear Falls, two miles north of Blackhawk. In Boulder Ranger District, Roosevelt National Forest.
Middle Saint Vrain Road This four-wheel drive road is not steep, but can be very rough, with large rocks and logs. It follows Middle Saint Vrain Creek and crosses some side creeks. It ends at Indian Peaks Wilderness boundary, at the Middle Saint Vrain Trailhead on the Buchanan Pass Trail. The Middle Saint Vrain Road can make a loop with the Coney Creek Road. The connector road, the Coney Cut-off, an especially steep and narrow road, is easier negotiated from Beaver Reservoir end, on the Coney Creek Road. This can make a loop with the Coney Creek Road, returning either by the steep, loose Sourdough Trail or a longer, but easier return by the Beaver Reservoir Road and the Peak-to-Peak Highway. Be aware of heavy 4WD traffic. FDR 114.
Start at Camp Dick Campground. In Boulder Ranger District, Roosevelt National Forest.
Mofffat Road This is an old railroad grade and a rough 2WD road. It used to connect over the Continental Divide to Winter Park, but is now closed at mile 13 due to a collapse at the Needles Eye Tunnel. Popular road for mountain biking and 4WD. A self-guided auto tour booklet from the Rollins Pass Restoration Association is available at the Boulder Ranger District office for $1. FDR 149
From Rollinsville go west on County Road 16, west of the Peak-to-Peak Highway (CO 119) south of Nederland In Boulder Ranger District, Roosevelt National Forest.
Rainbow Lakes Road This is a rough 2WD road. Gradual elevation gain along the way ends at the Rainbow Lakes Campground on the edge of the Indian Peaks Wilderness. This connects to Caribou and Eldora by 4WD FDR 505. Popular road for mountain biking. FDR 298
Rock Creek Road This is a 4WD road. It starts with a gentle grade, then climbs increasingly steep. There are some short side roads. Popular road for mountain biking. FDR 116
Switzerland Trail This popular mountain biking and 4WD route is an old railroad bed, so the grades are moderate. Bikers, the surface is not technical, but it is rough and rocky. The stretch north of Gold Hill Road is less traveled because the connection at the north end at Sawmill Road requires a short, steep scree scramble with your bike on your shoulder where the new road fill covers the old railroad bed. The largest elevation drop is from either Gold Hill Road or Glacier Lake/County Road 120 to the junction of Sunset/Fourmile Canyon Drive. The Switzerland Trail can be made into a loop with a return by the Gold Hill Road an Peak-to-Peak Highway.
Drivers, much of this road is high clearance two-wheel drive, but it is one lane in places. It passes the Mount Alto Picnic Area. There are fine views to the east, and it is a good place for aspen colors in late September or early October.
Can be accessed from the Peak-to-Peak Highway (CO 72) at the southwest end, Fourmile Canyon at the low point from the east, Gold Hill Road or Sawmill Road near Lefthand Canyon on the northeast. In Boulder Ranger District, Roosevelt National Forest.
Taylor Mountain There are several 4WD roads, former roads that are now trails and the Taylor Mountain Trail, which is a single track. Moderate elevation changes occur. Popular road for mountain biking.FDR 330, #932.
Weather and road conditions determine opening dates for these off-highway roads. Roads east of the Peak-to-Peak Highway usually open mid to late May. Roads west of the Peak-to-Peak Highway open mid to late June. Check road status by calling 303-541-2500 or reading the Boulder District road closure web page.
Motor Vehicle Use Maps for the Boulder Ranger District (around Nederland, east of Rocky Mountain National Park, west of Boulder, Lyons, Longmont) are available online here. In addition, use the Forest map available from the district office listed on our Contacts page or by order from the link on our Maps page.