Iron Chest


The Iron Chest Mine Trail is located approximately 15 miles Southwest of Buena Vista, CO (which is on US Hwy 285, about 70 miles West of Colorado Springs). To get to the trailhead from Buena Vista, take US 285 South 8 miles. Turn right (West) on CO 162 and go 15.5 miles, towards St. Elmo. Bear left on CO 295 towards Hancock and go 0.4 miles. There’s a small parking area on the left side of the road. The trailhead is located at the left side within the parking area. This is also the trailhead for the Grizzly Lake Trail, which is straight ahead and through the Forest Service gate. For the Iron Chest Mine Trail, take the first right before the gate. Ranging in elevation from 10,000 feet to over 12,000 feet, the trail begins by taking you through a quarter mile boulder field, ranging is size from 12" – 24". After that, the trail is relatively easy; except for a few scary off-camber shelf roads with steep drop-offs of hundreds of feet (yikes)! The trail ascends the Northwest face of the Chrysolite Mountain and ends at the site of the old Iron Chest Gold Mine. The scenery is spectacular and there are numerous abandoned structures at the site of the old mine to explore. There are also a couple of open mine shafts, so use caution and keep close tabs on kids and pets! From the end of the trail, you can climb up the remaining 200 feet or so to the top of the summit (but remember, the air is pretty thin at this altitude—take your time and drink plenty of fluids). At the top flies an American Flag. On the other side of the summit, down the Southwest face of the mountain, you can see the Pomeroy Lakes Trail and the site of the Mary Murphy Mine. Although there is much information available about the Mary Murphy Mine, little is know about the Iron Chest Mine. Probably because it is so much less accessible than the Mary Murphy Mine. However, like many of the numerous other gold mines in the area, the Iron Chest Mine was likely discovered in the mid-1870s and operated until the early 1900s. The Iron Chest Mine Trail is a little over 2.5 miles one way and takes between 2 hours to 2.5 hours to reach the mine.

Difficulty Rating:  Three (3) Hard
(based on my personal rating scale on the Trails Page)

Click HERE for a FULL-SIZE printable map

Here are a couple shots from the Iron Chest Mine Trail.
On the left, webejeepin through the boulder field during the first quarter mile of the trail. 
On the right is some of the remains of the old Iron Chest Gold Mine.

Click on picture for larger view, then "back" on your browser to return here.




Cumm. Dist.






N38° 42.15’

W106° 20.80’



0.17 mi

0.17 mi

192° (SSW)

N38° 42.00’

W106° 20.84’



0.13 mi

0.30 mi

178° (S)

N38° 41.89’

W106° 20.83’



0.41 mi

0.71 mi

170° (S)

N38° 41.54’

W106° 20.75’



0.22 mi

0.93 mi

180° (S)

N38° 41.35’

W106° 20.75’



0.12 mi

1.05 mi

188° (S)

N38° 41.24’

W106° 20.77’



0.14 mi

1.19 mi

50° (NE)

N38° 41.32’

W106° 20.65’



0.14 mi

1.33 mi

187° (S)

N38° 41.21’

W106° 20.67’



0.17 mi

1.50 mi

206° (SSW)

N38° 41.07’

W106° 20.75’



0.09 mi

1.59 mi

182° (S)

N38° 40.99’

W106° 20.76’



0.15 mi

1.74 mi

215° (SW)

N38° 40.89’

W106° 20.85’



0.15 mi

1.89 mi

185° (S)

N38° 40.76’

W106° 20.87’



0.09 mi

1.98 mi

229° (SW)

N38° 40.71’

W106° 20.94’



0.17 mi

2.14 mi

177° (S)

N38° 40.57’

W106° 20.93’



0.12 mi

2.26 mi

202° (SSW)

N38° 40.47’

W106° 20.98’



0.13 mi

2.39 mi

144° (SE)

N38° 40.38’

W106° 20.90’



0.17 mi

2.56 mi

172° (S)

N38° 40.24’

W106° 20.87’

Notice: Off-highway travel is by its very nature potentially dangerous and could result in property damage, injury, or even death.  If you drive any of the trails on this web site, you acknowledge these risks and assume full responsibility.  You are the final judge as to whether a trail is safe to drive, whether your vehicle is capable of the journey, and whether your skills are up to the challenge.  The publisher of this web site disclaims any and all liability for property damage, bodily injury, or death that could occur to you or any of your passengers.  To the best of my knowledge, the information contained on this page was accurate as of the time I road this trail during the Summer 2000.   However, things change over time.  And portions of this trail may no longer be legally accessible to motorized vehicles.  Therefore, please be good stewards of our sport--always stay on designated trails . . . and always, always remember to Tread Lightly!

Back to the Colorado Trails Page