Spirit Gulch
Difficulty Easy/Moderate
Length of hike 6 mi. RT (6.8 mi. loop)
Starting Elevation 10680 ft.
Top Elevation 12120 ft.
Type of Vehicle Regular
Distance to Trailhead 21.6 miles
GPS track download Spirit Gulch Track
Hiking time up 2:00 hours
Hiking time down 1:30 hrs (4.5 hrs for Loop)

Directions to Trailhead
From the Traffic light in Ridgway, drive 21.6 miles south on Highway 550 past Ironton. Park by the gate at a jeep road on the right, but do not block access to the gate. Additional parking is on the other side of the highway. Parking for the car shuttle, if you hike the loop, is 2.4 miles below the trailhead parking.





Spirit Gulch is a hike that does not need any navigation tools. It is listed here because the trip is not prominently mentioned in guidebooks, leads to some impressive views with carpets of wildflowers, and can serve as a checkout hike to test your comfort level with GPS navigation. If you intend to make a snowshoe excursion in winter, the GPS track may be quite useful since the road will not be available as a guide.

The hike is easily accessible, starts at Highway 550, follows a jeep road and continues through meadows to some fine vistas into the Red Mountain Mining District. There is little opportunity to get lost, so anyone trying to gain confidence in using the track feature of the GPS may want to explore this area.


Wildflowers are abundant at the right time of year and the trail passes by a significant mining site, the Barstow Mine, with equipment still strewn around.

From an unmarked fork you can continue on a level track heading north, or head up towards the Galena Lion Mine, enjoying views that might be a bit better than from the lower track. This makes a fine lunch spot.

Hikers with an aversion to backtracking may want to continue and complete the loop using a car shuttle, which requires parking a car at the highway 2.4 miles below the trailhead. Going as far as the Greyhound Mine is worthwhile since the mine still has implements on the ground and the views into McIntyre Gulch are appealing and different. But returning the way you came may actually be preferable to completing the loop since Spirit Gulch is more pleasant than descending in the forest to the car shuttle.