You may be missing out if you aren’t learning about the history of the trail ahead of time. Take some time to research – you never know what you may learn!
I decided on a trail view a few different contributing factors. One, it was one that I haven’t hiked before. Two, I knew I’d see other people on it because it’s a really popular trail in the area, which meant I was more comfortable hiking alone. Three, I knew that it was a must-see while we lived close by.
Before hiking, I knew the trail had some history, but I don’t think I realized the scale of it until I got there. Of course there was no phone service in this high alpine glacial basin, so all my research took place later that day after returning home.
So which hike am I talking about? The Mayflower Gulch Grand Traverse, located in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. It’s just between Copper Mountain and Leadville, on Colorado’s Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway CO 91.
The Mayflower Gulch Grand Traverse is a 6.1 mile hike that’s rated as moderate on AllTrails. You can either park at the lower trailhead, or drive up the old wagon road if you have a 4×4 vehicle. I was able to drive our 4Runner up to the upper parking lot, which cut several miles off my hike.
Just after the upper parking area, you’ll find the remnants of the Boston Mine and its boarding house where miners lived and worked in the late 1800s. The gold was determined to be too impure for processing, so the area was abandoned. There was a short rebirth in the 1980s when the price of gold skyrocketed, but the it was once again found to be too impure and was abandoned.
As you hike along the trail, there’s numerous buildings in various states of disrepair, ranging from a pile of boards to one standing building. Farther into the valley, there’s even a two-story tall ore chute that is still connected via metal wire to the mine far above you on the cliff wall.
In 2009, the county purchased the 129-acre mining parcel in an effort to protect it from future mining and development. They purchased it for $900,000, even though there’s an estimated $15 to $50 million dollars worth of gold estimated to still be below ground – but it would likely have to go through an extensive refining process (Source: Denver Post).
One thing I took away from this is knowing that every time I hike a trail I need to stop and think, “Who was here before me?” Learn and do a little research about that area. I can promise you that by knowing more about the history of the trail you will appreciate the hike that much more. Knowing that people once walked where you walked (and I’m not talking about modern day). People survived where you may look at the land and say, “How?!”
I would highly recommend the Mayflower Gulch hike. Like many other hikes in the Breckenridge area, you’ll find more cabins and mining history than most other places in the United States, so it’s well worth doing some research beforehand. Some other hikes with a lot of history include Crystal Mill, Mohawk Lakes, and the Decalibron.
So that is my challenge for you this week. Think of your favorite hiking trail, river to kayak down, or backpacking trek and research the history of it. Then share with me what you’ve learned! I bet you’ll find more than you could’ve ever dreamed of!