Hagerman by Jeep
Post Independent Staff
Few things are as enjoyable as taking in Colorado’s high country from above treeline. For those who want to explore these remote places, but have limited time to do so, there are many Jeep trails that lead backcountry adventurers to breathtaking vistas. And while there are a multitude of destinations to choose from, many feature dangerous, extreme road conditions that some drivers are not experienced enough to explore safely.
However, the road over Hagerman Pass is much more suited for novice travelers, and can be reached from either Basalt or Leadville.
In the Sawatch Range, east of Ruedi Reservoir, lies Hagerman Pass (11,925 ft.). The Hagerman Pass Road is a primitive road that features two short water crossings — Lyle Creek is approximately 16 inches deep and 40 feet across — and offers a panorama of peaks as well as a fantastic view of Ivanhoe Lake below. It is an excellent place to hone your Jeeping skills while taking in the sights.
The pass is named after John J. Hagerman, who was the builder of the Colorado Midland Railroad.
The road over the pass traverses the Continental Divide a few miles from Ivanhoe Lake.
To get to Hagerman Pass from Basalt, follow the Frying Pan Road for 27 miles, until the pavement ends. Then, take the left curve and turn left once more. The dirt road continues on for 11 miles to a “fork” in the road (continuing straight on the road takes you to Ivanhoe Lake and, further along, to the Hagerman Tunnel). Take a left, and then a quick right to begin the climb to Hagerman Pass (wooden signs mark which road to take). At this point you come across the Lyle Lake trailhead, which is an added pleasure during your exploration of the area. The trail is approximately one and a half miles long and leads to Lyle Lake (11,369 feet). Continuing on, the road can be muddy in some places, but is in good condition overall. Expect a few short, rocky patches, requiring good ground clearance on your vehicle. The road winds on above treeline and passes a sign marking the top of the pass.
Lunch in Leadville?
If you have the time, the road continues on for a little more than seven miles to Turquoise Lake, near Leadville, where you can grab a bite to eat and explore this history-rich town. There are also ample camping opportunities near Turquoise Lake, as well as back near Hell’s Gate at the beginning of the Hagerman Pass Road. Additionally, there are a plethora of fishing holes along Ivanhoe Creek, making this jeeping experience an adventure that caters to all tastes.
— Collin Szewczyk is outdoors editor for the Post Independent. Have comments, concerns or story ideas? Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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New hiking and biking trail at Sutey Ranch could ease pressure at main Red Hill trailhead later this summer.