Lunch at Mayflower Gulch cabins
A while ago, a friend and I skied up Mayflower Gulch. Despite the busy holiday weekend, we saw few people on this moderate trail to a spectacular view of the Mayflower Gulch amphitheater.
I used my almost antique (1980) backcountry skis - waxable Kastle light edge with a Rottefella three-pin binding and leather Alfa boots, while my friend used a modern Telemark set-up with skins.
From the east side of the parking lot, follow a road that parallels Mayflower Creek and climbs steadily east / southeast. After about two miles, we entered the stunning Mayflower Amphitheater with its views of Fletcher Mountain (at 13,841 feet). My waxed skis worked well for most of the climb, with only a few sections where I resorted to herringboning. My friend who used skins found the climb slower, since there are short flat or downhill sections that I could glide faster.
After a short snack break at the Mayflower Gulch ‘cabins’, I skied up and left on relatively flat terrain toward the old Boston Mine. My friend climbed steeply up to the summit of Gold Hill, where he snagged an excellent powder run down. Without skins, the trail up was too steep for me. My ski set-up, while fine for touring, isn’t suited for downhill skiing.
If you want to go only as far as the cabins, a touring set-up works fine. To ski the steeper powder runs above, I recommend AT or Telemark gear. The slopes on Gold Hill face mostly north so the snow stays good, but beware of avalanche danger and carry appropriate safety equipment.
Descend the same trail, which can be very fast if it hasn’t snowed in several days.
For more information, see Richard DuMais 50 Colorado Ski Tours (1983) , Tom and Sanse Sudduth’s Northern Colorado Ski Tours (1976), or Claire Walter’s Snowshoeing Colorado (2004).
Drive I 70 toward Copper Mountain (Exit 195; Highway 91) and head toward Leadville for 5.5 miles. Turn left into a large parking area on the east side of Highway 91, where it crosses Mayflower Creek.
Starting elevation: 10,940 feet
Mayflower gulch cabins: 11,560 feet
Distance: 2 1/2 miles, one way
Skiing time: 2- 3 hours climbing
Map: U.S.G.S Copper Mountain, Colorado
Dogs: allowed, but be careful of other skiers