Length: 15.2 miles (one way) Trail Use: Heavy
Difficulty: More Difficult Open To: 4WD, OHV, Biking, Hiking
Beginning Elevation: 10,200 ft. Ending Elevation: 9,000 ft.
Elevation Gain: -1,200 ft. USGS Map(s): Leadville
Access from Vail: Travel west on I-70 to Exit #171 for Minturn, Leadville, and Hwy 24. Exit here and turn right onto Hwy 24. Proceed south into Leadville where Hwy 24 turns right and becomes Harrison Ave. Turn right onto E. 7th St. which will turn into County Road 3 and the beginning of your journey. After crossing Evans Creek twice you will come to a junction where you want to stay to the left, this is the beginning of the 4WD trail.
Trail Highlights: For the first 6 miles to the summit you will encounter several switchbacks and junctions where some route finding skills may come in handy. You can obtain a topographical map from the Leadville Ranger Station and be sure to bring a compass. At the summit (the highest open vehicular pass in N. America) there is a monument dedicated to Father John Lewis Dyer, also known as the “Snowshoe Itinerant”. Father Dyer was a Methodist minister who braved the wintry Colorado backcountry to bring religion to the mining establishments of Alma, Fairplay, and Leadville. Along this road you will encounter several abandoned mining sites such as London and America Mills. The descent will require similar route finding skills as the ascent as it passes many junctions. You will follow the main road until you cross Mosquito Creek at about 8.25 miles then turn right on FDR 12 where you will stay until the end of the 4WD section. You will then want to follow this road until you cross the South Platte River and meet up with Hwy. 9 southeast of Alma. It is rumored that the pass and possible the mountain range were named after the town of Musquito that was located between Park City and the London Mine. The residents of the town did not have a name for the town until a town meeting when someone noticed a mosquito squashed in the pages of one of the city record books. They did not know how to spell the word so they took their best guess; there are no remaining ruins of the town.