Backcountry skiing - Mayflower Gulch
Posted by sibylle in skiing (Thursday January 21, 2010 at 11:32 am)


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).

Getting there:

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

6 comments for Backcountry skiing - Mayflower Gulch »

  1. hi there. thanks for posting. what a great looking ski.

    i just got gear - courtesy of play it again sams - and i believe its around 80s vintage too. I enjoy touring much more than downhill. I had been touring with my resort tele gear, so i was delighted to have any other option.

    the gear is not with me at the moment, or i would tell you exactly what it is. my pride and joy, is a well-fitting, already broken in pair of leather three-pin boots. they are comfy, warm and wonderful after too much time in the scarpa t2s.

    we have really only skied the sourdough trail so far, so i will look around your blog and see if you have any dog-friendly outings closer to home listed.

    dana rogers

    Comment by dana — January 21, 2010 @ 11:55 am

  2. Mayflower Gulch is in my book, “Snowshoeing Colorado,” and it’s one of my favorite too. I’ve also hiked it in the summer, and it’s a great wildflower hike too. So thanks for the memories.

    Comment by Claire Walter — January 22, 2010 @ 8:18 am

  3. Sibylle, reading your blog post is liking having a vicarious outdoor adventure in itself! Thanks for posting.

    Comment by Gail Storey — January 22, 2010 @ 8:21 am

  4. Claire, I  recommended your book  as a source of further information.

    Comment by sibylle — January 22, 2010 @ 8:26 am

  5. Enjoyed reading this - made me want to get out and do it. I’ve really been put off downhill skiing by all the hustle and bustle, not to mention the expensive. This sounds much more appealing. Thanks!

    Comment by Mandy — January 23, 2010 @ 9:41 am

  6. MISSING HUSKY “Forrest Lee”

    Red & White siberian Husky with blue left eye and brown right eye, wearing a brown & yellow harness, neutered 7 1/2 year old male. He is very friendly to all people and other animals.

    Last seen 1/14/12 on the descent from Quandary Peak. I was told by the Ranger that other dogs lost on Quandary Peak have been found in Mayflower Gulch.

    If you have any information about Forrest, please call (303) 960-7390 or (303) 669-5221. You will be rewarded.

    Thank you kindly,
    Forrest’s family

    Comment by Darla — January 18, 2012 @ 4:55 pm

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