Western Colorado’s Gearhart Mine is the Best Hike You’ve Never Done
Both hikes set out from the same location just off of I-70 near Palisade. Why not make the Gearhart mine your next hike?
Right Where We Left It
Take a look at Mt. Garfield. Then look a little east. Do you see the black area with an old wooden structure? That's your destination. The Gearhart Mine can be seen by the naked eye from almost anywhere in the valley.
There are several ways to reach the Gearhart Mine. You can head up the back way. Then again, you can reach it via two trails setting out from the parking area at Mt. Garfield. The "East" trail is one I haven't taken. For that matter, I have yet to find it.
Keep Your Eyes Open for the Trail
My latest visit to the Gearhart Mine utilized the trail heading to Mt. Garfield. Roughly two-thirds of the way up you can deviate from the trail, and take a path heading directly east, straight to the mine.
To find the junction where the trails separate, all I can say is keep your eyes open. When climbing Mt. Garfield, you'll reach a plateau roughly halfway up. It is at this point you begin heading west towards Mt. Garfield. After a few thousand feet, you'll reach another plateau. This is where you need to keep your eyes open. While the Mt. Garfield trail continues west, another trail cuts off to the north, and then promptly heads east. This will get you to the Gearhart Mine.
Once on this trail, it's a short, easy hike to the mine. Keep your eyes fixed on the dirt road in the distance. This is the road coming in from the back way. It's also your destination. The part of the road you see is directly behind the mine.
Just as Much Fun as Hiking to Mt. Garfield
No matter how you look at this, the climb is 2,000 feet up. The first half is a real thigh-burner. Even for experienced hikers or those in excellent condition, the first half of this trail requires the occasional breather.
Upon reaching the mine, have your camera ready. It is truly remarkable. Please note, the dirt surrounding the mine and its support beams is pretty loose. You might want to avoid getting down to the chute and its support beams. I would recommend staying up top and enjoying the mine from that perspective.
You Won't Need That Much Time
Taking the route I used, you are looking at the better part of an hour and a half up, and forty-five minutes down. Again, the climb is strenuous no matter who you are, so this trail is one you would probably only want to hike under ideal conditions.
Set a course for the Gearhart Mine. It's an enjoyable and overlooked hike. It's a bit difficult but well worth it.