Southeast of Montrose and southwest of Gunnison, the old mining town of Lake City provides a great starting point for exploring scenic alpine terrain by OHV users. This is some of the most beautiful mountains and rivers in the state, and therefore, is quite popular with OHV users. Most of the dirt roads are open to OHV users, but none of the trails.
The Alpine Loop is a 65 mile network of dirt roads between the towns of Lake City, Ouray, and Silverton. There is a central loop with numerous side spur roads. Generally, the routes start off well-packed and easy to traverse close to the main towns, and as the roads climb in elevation, the roads deteriorate. Near the passes, the roads are steep and quite rocky.
These roads are winding and have numerous blind curves with steep dropoffs. Make sure to watch your speed, especially on loose sections. The roads are open to vehicular traffic and can be quite crowded with bikers, cars and ATVs on the weekends. During summer months, it is not uncommon for there to be a half-dozen accidents each week.
To reach the Henson Creek trailhead in Lake City from Gunnison, head west on US50 for 9 miles. Turn south on SR149 for 45 miles to Lake City. In Lake City, follow the road heading west up toward Engineer Pass to reach the Henson Creek Trailhead (about 0.5 miles).
Note: Use extreme caution on the section of road from Engineer Pass heading west to US550 near Ouray. This section of road is very difficult, rocky and one lane on a cliff.
Note: Colorado residents must register their off-highway vehicle with the Colorado State Parks (303) 866-3437. Non-residents are not required to register in Colorado, if they are registered in their home states. All off-highway vehicles must have an approved muffler and spark arrester. These requirements are subject to change so make sure to contact the Colorado State Parks prior to using your off-highway vehicle.
Overall, Alpine Loop is the 7th most popular OHV & 4wd jeep trail of all 61 OHV routes in Colorado.