Hike of the Week: See historic ruins at Mayflower Gulch
Walking Mountains Science Center
Trail Name: Mayflower Gulch.
Mileage: Roughly 2 miles to the mine camp ruins.
Subjective Rating: Easy.
What to Expect
This trail is a little further of a drive from the Vail area but is totally worth it. Take Interstate 70 east from Vail to the Copper Mountain exit and proceed south on Highway 91 toward Fremont Pass for 6 miles. The trailhead parking is on the left side of the road, if you hit the Clinton Reservoir, you’ve gone too far.
From the parking area, the trail follows an old mining road on a gradual ascent to an amphitheater underneath Fletcher Mountain. The remnant cabins and infrastructure you see are leftovers from the Boston Mining Co.’s exploratory digs in the area.
Gold and silver, among other precious metals, were pulled from these hillsides and further processed along the streams and creeks. Kokomo, once a mining camp along Highway 91, was the center of civic action and boasted upward of 10,000 residents in the late 1870s. In 1881, a fire ravaged the townsite, burning most of everything to the ground, and although a few cabins were rebuilt, Kokomo never made it back to the hustle and bustle of the late 1800s. Climax Molybdenum bought the land under Kokomo in the 1960s and by the early ’70s, the townsite was a tailings dump for the nearby behemoth of a mine.
The cabins and ore chutes along the Mayflower Gulch trail are an excellent reminder of the activities of a time past. Nowadays, you are more likely to see backcountry skiers atop Gold Hill Ridge and Wheeler Mountain in the winter, and wildflower enthusiasts and photographers in the summer.
Historic structures such as those in the Mayflower Gulch drainage are very special artifacts that remind us of the colorful living history of our Colorado mountains. They’ve undoubtedly been used as the backdrop for countless engagement pictures as they dramatically scream “Colorado!” However, these buildings will not be with us forever, so it is important to remind hikers, snowshoers and all recreators to please respect these historic artifacts and treat them as living pieces of history. As we continue to debate the relevance of historic buildings and their place in our civic histories, it’s hard for this hiker to imagine Mayflower Gulch without these wooden stalwarts that have bested the tests of time.