Rating - 9
Mt Blanca is a very difficult trail and should not be attempted by a stock vehicle. A couple of years ago the club was reminded of the difficulty of the trail and the dangers of the sport as we came upon a rollover that killed the driver of the vehicle. Mt. Blanca does not have a single signature obstacle but touts a series of obstacles called Jaws 1, Jaws 2, Jaws 2.5 and Jaws 3. Mt. Blanca can be safely traveled if you bring along an experienced spotter that knows the nuances of the different obstacles.
From Colorado Springs take I25 South for about 90 miles to the town of Walsenburg. From Walsenburg travel west on Hwy160 for about 57 miles and turn north on US Hwy 150. On Hwy 150 go about 3 miles to AC County Road 975. Travel a few miles down CR975 to a large parking lot which is considered to be the trailhead for Mt. Blanca.
Mt. Blanca rises out of the San Luis valley as part of the Sangre De Cristo mountain range. The road to this beautiful mountain starts as a sandy trail and as it climbs the flank of the mountain the sand is replaced with river rocks ranging from golf ball to basketball in size. There are no trees at the start of the trail but as you climb up in altitude pinion pine dominate the mountain side. Soon switch backs are encountered as you continue up the trail. At the beginning the trail has some rocks and small washouts but nothing to challenge the experienced driver. The view of the valley below is wonderful as the trail winds along.
The first major obstacle is Jaws 1, a large long white rock that is angled into the trail. The line to the right will sent you too far up the trail's shoulder, while the line to the left could send you into the deep ravine below. There is no bypass. After negotiating Jaws 1 the trail makes its way past a few ruined miner's cabins and crosses the steam flowing from Lake Como.
Jaws 2 is the next major obstacle that requires special attention. Some vehicles have rolled down to the lower switchbacks by taking the wrong line. This obstacle has been widened to make it safer to negotiate but it still gets your attention. Tires high and to the right seem to be the best option here.
After Jaws 2 the trail continues to switch back and traverses over more rocks to an obstacle called Jaws 2.5. Water has washed out the soil surrounding the rocks that make up Jaws 2.5. If your rig is Jeep size or smaller you can negotiate the right side. If your rig is larger the left through the notch will get you through. There are no bypasses for Jaws 2 and 2.5.
After a short distance and more rocks Jaws 3 looms ahead. There is a bypass but it is getting harder as the elements wear away at it. Jaws 3 is a rock shelf that is around 3-5 feet high with large rocks on either side. The best way through this obstacle is to go into the wedge of the shelf and to the left of a large rock. There are many sharp rocks on this obstacle that like to cut your tires. A winch is sometimes needed to clear this obstacle. After Jaws 3 the trail continues over a large rock formation, through the trees and over talus slopes.
The trail gently drops down into the camping area at the west end of Como Lake. From here the trail traverses along the south and east side of the lake to a hill that is often covered by mud and tree roots. In this section of the trail a rock formation in the trees challenges you as it is usually slippery from either water or loose dirt. From here, the trail gets significantly easier and the scenery is wonderful. The trail ends at Blue Lake . The trail after Como Lake has come into question so use discretion when using this part of the trail. The trail is a little over 7.5 miles long. You return down the mountain on the same trail that you traveled in.
GPS Coordinates N 37.54168 W 105.57133