The Otto Mears Toll Road and the trails in the mining district are suitable for all types of Off Road Vehicles. The Toll Road is one trail that leads to a network of trails in the vicinity of Bonanza, CO. The road was built by Otto Mears in the 1800’s and was used by the mines located near Bonanza to access the railroad which passed by “Shirley Site”.
Unfortunately, the area covered by all these trails lays in the adjoining corners of three different National Forest boundaries. To use Forest Service maps you may need maps for:
– San Isabel National Forest
– Gunnison National Forest
– Rio Grand National Forest
Other maps such as the National Geographic series are also available.
Because there are so many trails, the accuracy of any of the available maps is questionable.
GPS Coordinates: LAT/LON (N38° 25.192´, W106° 7.749´) – UTM (397891.23E, 4254100.96N)
Directions to Shirley Site parking lot:
From Poncha Springs go south on highway 285. Turn west on CR 200. Stay on the main road until you reach the Shirley Site parking lot. There are several dry camping spots not far from the parking lot. There is a restroom at the parking lot.
Otto Mears Toll Road:
From the parking lot turn left (south) and follow the dirt road / trail approximately 5.3 miles to the start of the Toll Road.( GPS N38° 21.818´, W106° 10.639´).
Just before reaching the Toll Road you will pass the Silver Creek trail head for the Rainbow Trail, which is a single track motorcycle trail.
At the sign, marking the start of the Toll Road, make a sharp left turn , DO NOT GO STRAIGHT! During the climb up the Toll Road there are some great views. Once over the top and down the other side into the mining district there is a network of old mining roads and many old mines.
If you go west (straight), from the Shirley Site parking lot you can follow the Poncha Creek trail, or take the car road (the old railroad bed), to the top of Marshal Pass. The creek trail is more interesting, but a bit more challenging. Just before reaching the top of the pass, a trail comes in from the left of the creek trail, which leads to an overlook.
At the top of the pass (near the restrooms), a single track motorcycle trail (the Crest Trail), goes north toward Monarch Pass. Along the way there are other motorcycle trails.
From the top of the pass (near the restrooms), the car road goes through a deep “cut”. From there you can go south and find some ATV/Jeep trails. Continuing on the car road leads to Sargents an interesting old mining town. (approximately 12 miles) You can get gas at Sargents and on some days durning the summer the restaurant is open.