Champion Mill Trip - September 2006
by Eric Steenburn
TRR members Gail Straty, Eric Steenburn, Richard & Karla Harmon met at McDonald’s in Boulder at 8am for the September 16th 4WD trip. With an early start the group of three vehicles made its way up to the turn off at Rollinsville. We parked near the new public porta-potty and aired down our tires. Since we were a small group and had an early start I gave everyone an option to add a historic side trip to our objectives for the day. Everyone liked the idea.

We drove NW on FDR 105 and then took the West Magnolia 105 road east to an obscure parking place north of the ghost town of Phoenix. We then took a short hike through the woods on a trail to the Champion mine and mill. The weather wasn’t cooperating (it was trying to snow) but the group was having a good time exploring and taking pictures of this rare 10 stamp mill. (*Lots* of other mining artifacts to admire at this site also!)

Once we made our way back to FDR149 Gail took the lead and we made our way past Tolland and started up the 4WD road to Kingston Peak. The weather seemed to be rapidly deteriorating and when we wheeled to 11,000 feet we encountered blizzard conditions. Gail decided to cancel the Kingston Peak part of the TRR outing at this point. This was probably a wise decision due to the high winds and near white-out conditions. We all agreed to retreat back down the mountain and take the Yankee Hill loop road down to the ruins just south of Pile Hill for lunch.

After lunch I led the group SE to the start of the Miners Gulch trail. We were going to run both segments of this little known 4WD trail. The first segment starts just south and a tad east of the gulch and makes its way downhill (Some steep sections) to the mid point where the water works equipment and intersecting (good road) from the Apex county road can be found. We continued downhill in Miners Gulch towards North Clear Creek. This is the area where Miners Gulch earns its 7 rating. Lots of very large boulders to negotiate! The group did very well with some spotting and exited the NE end of Miners un-scathed. We took the Montana Creak road north and completed the loop back to the Kingston Peak road just NE of Pile Hill.

The day was still young and the group wanted to wheel some more so I took them east to Apex to see if we would encounter Bill. This man can trap you for hours talking about UFO’s and all sorts of crazy things. He’s been a guest speaker in the George Nory late night talk radio show. Didn’t see Bill (Whew!) so we made our way up to the Apex mine. It appears the mine is no longer active. The bottom gate is gone and the upper gate is open. Ah, the shortcut is available again! We wheeled NE towards Moon and Gamble Gulch.

I decided to show the club some more history so we headed up and over to the Perigo 4WD road and then east to a cool shaft house. We all explored the interesting ruins and took pictures. The mineshaft has been sealed by the state but the steel cables running from the top of the shaft house and into the sealed shaft are still there. We continued east down the mountain but ran into a new gate right at the Gamble Gulch road. I had driven the Perigo road just a year ago gateless. (More darn closures) So close but no cigar! We backtracked and took the usual 4WD road out to Gamble Gulch exiting on the highway just south of Rollinsville. It was a fun day of wheeling and exploring.

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