Explore Colorado / Explore The Outdoors

Hiking to a Mining Ghost Town in Mayflower Gulch is 1 of Colorado’s Best Hikes for Families

Mayflower Gulch Trail is a very popular trail. Because there’s so much to see and the trail is wide, it’s great for families. If you want to log more miles and/or elevation you can continue beyond the mining camp to the Boston Mine or take the offshoot trail up to over 12,000 feet.

Mayflower Gulch Trail Stats:

Trailhead elevation is 10,996 feet. It’s really an old road so the trail is wide. Be on the lookout for a few mining relics along the trail. It’s 3 miles round trip on an out-and-back trail if you just hike to the old mining cabins. If you add the Boston Mine and offshoot trails, it’s a 6.1-mile out-and-back hike called the Mayflower Gulch Grand Traverse. I’ve hiked to a bunch of mines, so I did the mining camp and offshoot trail for a 4.5-mile hike. I did hear multiple planes overhead and you do hear Hwy 91 traffic for first and last quarter of mile of hike. There’s no cell service on the trail. I only had cell service briefly around 12,000’ on the ridge line.

Getting To Mayflower Gulch Trailhead:

It’s Mayflower Gulch Trailhead #1178. From the light at Copper Mountain it is 5.3 miles heading south on Hwy 91 toward Leadville. Since there’s no sign, be on the lookout for the parking lot on the left as you drive to first big hill. If you get to Clinton Creek Lake (big lake on the left side of the road), you’ve gone too far. Best to follow these directions as Apple Maps may send you too far south on Hwy 91. There is a large parking lot, but with the popularity of the hike it fills quickly especially on weekends.

Hiking to Boston Mine Camp Ghost Town

On a Friday morning at 9a.m., the parking lot was 3/4 of the way full. It was 52°F as I started the hike. The trail is really a 4 x 4 road or the old ore wagon road from the late 1800s. Only highway legal vehicles are allowed on it. You won’t encounter any ATVS or UTVS, but you might have a vehicle like a Jeep or truck with high clearance pass you as there are a few spots to park near the old mining cabins. It’s 2 miles from the parking area to the mining relics. You get a beautiful view at the start then quickly head into the forest and start a gradual climb for pretty much the whole hike to the Boston Mine Camp. At .6 miles there’s a collapsed cabin on the left then at .7 miles there’s an ore chute. Both of those are right along the trail so you shouldn’t miss them. The trail follows Mayflower Creek snaking through the willows and it comes into view sporadically. I encountered a few muddy spots on the trail and had one small section where a little water was flowing on it but it was very easy to navigate.

While I enjoyed the plethora of wildflowers along the trail, I more enjoyed the aromas of the fragrant pines. At mile 1 there’s a pretty view as the glacially-carved Mayflower Amphitheater of jagged 13,000+ peaks comes into view if you need a break. At 1.25 miles you pop out of the trees and treated to a beautiful view. That’s also where the trail starts to flatten just slightly. I did see 3 cars parked along the trail – a truck, SUV, and Jeep.

At 1.5 miles I arrived at Boston Mine Camp sitting at close to 11,500 feet in elevation. The trail crosses over Mayflower Creek and goes to the side of a gate to stop cars. The scenery is really stunning of the mountain basin with a jagged sawtooth ridge as its backdrop. There are three log structures close together as the center piece of what remains of the Boston Mine Camp. Two are still standing and one the roof has collapsed fully. There is a fourth one but it’s nothing more than a pile of wood now. The Boston Mine Camp’s heyday was in the 1890s after gold was found near Mayflower Gulch. I went in the largest one first. The roof is gone but 3 of the 4 walls are still standing. Based on its size I guessed it was probably the boarding house. Next I went to the cabin with a storage room. It’s the only structure with the roof still intact. I carefully walked to the window and marveled at the view. The roof has collapsed on the third, much smaller cabin but stand next to it for a stellar sweeping view of Mayflower Gulch. There are some mining relics and a few other ruins of small cabins in the basin. Unless you go very early, you’ll likely have to share the scenery with others.

Go Beyond the Ghost Town

You can continue on the trail to the left of the ghost town if you want to hike up to Boston Mine. I really wanted to lose the building crowd of hikers (and a couple of screaming kids), so I decided to take the trail up Gold Hill to gain some elevation and get a panoramic view. This trail gains elevation quickly with about a 500 foot gain in a half mile hike up. There’s a big curve in the trail where the elevation gain is more gradual near the top. That’s where I put on my puffy because it quickly turned windy and cold. The views from the tundra ridge top are stunning. You can see the Boston Mine and enjoy a different view of the Mayflower Amphitheater of schist-rock in Mount Fletcher and Northeast, Crystal, and Pacific peaks. From the ridge you have a great view of not only Mayflower Gulch but also Gore Range, Saguache, and the Clinton Gulch head wall. I was intrigued by the view of Climax Molybdenum Co.’s tailings ponds. The surreal bluish-silver pond is at the site of the silver town Kokomo, which is now gone in the Ten Mile Creek valley. I got to a spot just shy of 12,100 feet (12,060’ to be exact) and decided to hike back down as the clouds were quickly building. I had cell service on the ridge long enough for me to check the temperature. It was 58°F, which felt a lot colder with the windy conditions that high.

At 10:55a.m. I started my hike down. I stopped by Mayflower Creek to enjoy the view of Boston Mine Camp one last time before starting the 1.5-mile trek out from there at 11:15a.m. finishing my hike at 11:45a.m.

Picturesque View of the Boston Mine Camp Ghost Town

I skied Mayflower Gulch years ago with my cousins. It a wonderful ski or snowshoe adventure in the winter.

Author Jennifer Broome has hiked extensively in Colorado. Lily Pad in Silverthorne, Paradise Cove in Guffey Gulch, and Waterton Canyon in Littleton are wonderful hikes for families or anyone looking for easier hikes with unique pay-offs. For more ghost town adventures, check out posts on Animas Forks and Independence Ghost Towns in Colorado or Terlingua Ghost Town in Texas.