A fun Jeep trip with friends up to Rollins Pass

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Jenny Creek Trail provides an easy off-road outing

By Aaron Storms

Talking to some local friends recently, we decided to take advantage of the beautiful Colorado weather and cool mountain temps by doing a day trip on a local Jeep trail. We discussed several local options that were more scenic than difficult, and decided on one of our favorites – the Jenny Creek Trail that parallels the Rollins Pass Road about halfway up to the Needles Eye Tunnel after turning off from Tolland Road out west of Rollinsville. It takes about six hours round trip if taking it easy and including a little hiking, a picnic lunch, and stopping for photo opportunities.

On the main road we encountered hikers, bikers, ATVs and motorcycles, and even a few brave folks driving cars – hope those were rentals! The views were awesome all along the trail, and crosses over three counties – Gilpin, Clear Creek, and Boulder. The trails are well-maintained by the US Forest Service, and there are mitigation efforts frequently to keep adventurers on the designated trail to allow for revegetation to occur. The road to the tunnel is blocked off for driving, but open to hikers and cyclists who can climb over the tunnel and see the unspoiled Continental Divide for miles, with nothing but the old wooden railroad trestle left to remind us that trains once climbed the peaks before the Moffat Tunnel was built to go through the mountains to Winter Park. The old tunnel bypass trail is now closed, so we can no longer drive our Jeeps over to Winter Park as we were able to years ago.

At the top of Jenny Creek Trail is the beautiful Yankee Doodle Lake where the steam-driven trains used to fill up with water before heading over the top. Heading on up to the tunnel, there is another smaller Jenny Lake – both lakes were stocked with trout at one time and provide the perfect storybook setting for camping and fishing.

This is a great time to get out and explore all Colorado has to offer – see you on the trails!

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