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Snowshoeing: Colorado > White River National Forest > Sopris Ranger District

Quick Facts

Schofield Pass Four-Wheel Drive Road

Beginning Elevation: 8,880 Feet (2768.1 Meters) Crystal City
Difficulty: Extremely Difficult based on the number of deaths Schofield Pass is one of the most dangerous roads in the White River National Forest.
Elevation Gain: 1,840 Feet (573.6 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 10,720 Feet (3341.6 Meters) Schofield Pass
Length, One-way: 6 Miles (10.0 Kilometers)
Usage: Light to Moderate




Satellite and Topo Map




General Description

The Crystal Mill, between Marble and Crystal City
Copyright: Robbie George-UteCityPhoto.com
The Crystal Mill, between Marble and Crystal City
Schofield was an old mining town and is now a ghost town with a number of old buildings still standing. The first portion of the road passes through a narrow, steep canyon which contains a number of picturesque water falls. The Devil's Punch Bowl is a series of water falls ending in a deep pool of water. Schofield Park is a large, open meadow surrounded by the Majestic Peaks of the Elk Range. The East Fork Trailhead into the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness can be accessed from this road.

This route should be attempt only by VERY SKILLED and EXPERIENCED FOUR-WHEEL DRIVERS in jeep-type, short-wheel based, high-clearance four-wheel drive vehicles. There have been SEVERAL FATAL ACCIDENTS on this road. Most accidents occur on the descent from Schofield Park to the Devil's Punch Bowl. One danger is due to drivers not drying out their brakes after a deep creek crossing before the steep descent to the Punch Bowl. A snow bridge, formed by winter avalanche deposition, crosses the road about half way between Crystal and Schofield Park. Some years the snow bridge does not melt sufficiently to allow passage. The segment from Schofield Park to Schofield Pass is easy, as is the drive from the pass to Crested Butte. The entire route is popular with hikers and mountain bikers as well as four-wheel drive enthusiasts.

Directions from Carbondale: From Carbondale travel south on Highway 133 approximately 22 miles to road #314 toward Marble. Continue driving on road #314 through Marble and past Beaver Lake. Here the road begins to head uphill and passes over shale rock. About one mile east of Marble is a fork in the road; take the right fork. The road immediately heads downhill and on to Crystal City. After Crystal City take the right fork of the road to Schofield Pass Road #317.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Accessible: May through September (NOTE: Snow may obstruct the road into the Summer months.) .



Current Conditions & Trip Reports

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Filed By: Mark (Austin, TX)
Time of Day: Noon
Length of Time: 2.5 hours
Difficulty: Hard
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Neutral
Report: I completed this trail on a Yamaha WR250. The only difficult part is Devils Punch Bowl and for about 2 miles after. Everything else is alot of fun.
Conditions: 3 snow banks and one avalanche
Water Availability: took water

Filed By: Mark (Austin, TX)
Time of Day: 1PM
Length of Time: 2.5 - 3 hours
Difficulty: Hard
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Not Recommended
Report: Extremely difficult. Pass should have been closed. Went over several snow banks and avalanches. WOW. I can now check that off the list.
Conditions: 3 snow banks, very steep at punch bowl. Had to cross river 3ft deep.
Water Availability: Took plenty of water.

Filed By: Steve Green (Littleton, CO)
Time of Day: noonish
Length of Time: 2 hours
Difficulty: Hard
Number of People Encountered: 11-25 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: I did Schofield on my KLR 650 with DS tires. Left Denver at 6AM to do Mosquito, Cottonwood, Schofield, Taylor, Hancock, La Salle Passes and back to Denver by 8PM. 500 mile day! Going from Crested Butte to Marble the only tough spot is a 1/2 mile of downhill after crossing the river through very large (12' diameter) jagged broken rock road. Not too bad though for experienced riders. The river crossing is no problem as long as it is not too deep in early season. Otherwise you could get swept down stream. Great pass through the heart of the high high country.

Difficulty: Hard
Number of People Encountered: 11-25 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Neutral
Report: We drive our Jeep over Schofield several times every summer, as a family trip. I've been doing this as a 4x4 trip for 30 years, and I never get tired of it. Our latest trip was a month ago (in early July). This is a tough route. Only smaller 4x4 vehicles should go, with experienced drivers. The Forest Service should bear in mind that this road, used by motor vehicles, is a heritage resource and should be kept open to motor vehicles. It is a beautiful road. Driving it takes skill and commitment, and is thus more rewarding than the roads the Forest Service keeps 'improving' and making into mostly 2-wheel-drive (such as lower Pearl Pass). The reason why I mention the importance of the Schofield Road is that I know of a recent instance wherein a call was made to the Forest Service office, and the Forest Service individual on the phone said that 'Schofield is only open to foot traffic.' As there is a trend to restrict all but muscle powered users from public land, I take this statement seriously (and I pray it was a mis-statement). P.S., We saw several '4-wheelers' on the trail (the little ones that one person rides). These are very appropriate for Schofield and make the trail safer and easier for everyone. We also noticed that a person with heavy equipment was smoothing out and working on some of the rough sections lower down. What is the point of that!? Does the Forest Service want the lower sections of this road to be 2-wheel-drive, thus ruining the whole experience, and giving drivers a false sense of security? Also, all but one of the fatal roll-offs on this road did NOT happen at the Punchbowl section -- most happened down below at a place that doesn't look that bad but catches the unwary driver. Thus, if the Forest Service uses safety of the Punchbowl shelf road as a reason to mumble about closing this road, they are barking up the wrong tree. Come on Forest Service. You list only eight 4x4 roads in the Sopris District. Why not just be positive about these roads. They are beautiful, and provide access deep into the backcountry for many people who would otherwise be unable to go. And by the way, it was not crowded the day we went. (I gave it the 'Neutral' recommendation as I would need to know what kind of vehicle you had and how much experience before I'd recommend it.) 'best, Lou Dawson

Difficulty: Hard
Number of People Encountered: 11-25 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Beautiful, challenging road. I agree with Bushducks, be careful and take your time and you'll be through in no time. BTW- there was only one fatal accident on this pass 22 years ago.

Difficulty: Hard
Number of People Encountered: 11-25 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Yes, it's difficult, but an experienced 4 wheeler in dry weather when the snow has gone will wonder what the fuss is about. Passing is tight in the canyon. Great photo opportunities. Some bush camp spots at the Crested Butte end. Bushducks



Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Four-Wheel Driving Schofield Pass Four-Wheel Drive Road
Yes
ICON Hiking & Walking Schofield Pass Road
Yes
ICON Horseback Riding Schofield Pass Road
Yes
ICON Mountain Biking Schofield Pass Road - mechanized vehicles are not permitted in wilderness areas.
Yes
ICON ATV Riding Schofield Pass Road - mechanized vehicles are not permitted in wilderness areas.
Yes
ICON Motorcycle Riding Schofield Pass Road - mechanized vehicles are not permitted in wilderness areas.
Yes
ICON Snowshoeing Schofield Pass Road
Yes
ICON Viewing Scenery Schofield Pass Road
Yes



Related Activities
Crystal Mill Site - Crystal Mill is considered by some to be one of the most photographed sites in Colorado. The mill is one of the remains of the mining economy that fueled settlement of the Rocky Mountain region of Colorado.

East Fork/West Pass Maroon Trail - This trail is one of the most heavily used trails in the Aspen area. Hikers, Backpackers, and horse travelers enjoy wildflowers, views and access to wilderness areas.

Lead King Basin Four-Wheel Drive Road - Lead King Basin four-wheel drive road passes very close to the boundary of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness and affords some spectacular views of mountains, meadows, and canyons.



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