Trips & Trails: Russell Gulch, Colorado

Photo By: Jeffrey Beall – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

If you like your backcountry trips easy-but-adventurous, and full of history, you won’t want to miss Russell Gulch – a largely abandoned mining town located about five miles north of Idaho Springs, Colorado at an elevation of 9,150 feet.

As the story goes, William Green Russell, a gold miner from Georgia discovered gold on the banks of Cherry Creek and started the Pikes Peak Gold Rush in 1859, heavily influencing the creation of the Colorado Territory. The “Fifty-Niners” (after 1859) mined the area for about a decade, producing 1.25-million-ounces of gold by 1865,

Read More: Trips & Trails: Storm Mountain, Bear Gulch

Russell Gulch Ghost Town

William Russell found gold in Russell Gulch Valley (named in his honor) in June of 1859. by September of the same year 891 people were mining gold in the gulch. The Town of Russell Gulch was built at the head of the gulch to serve the miners. At the height of the gold boom, the town featured houses, a schoolhouse, and IOOF Hall (seen above) the gold mine itself, mining buildings, a mule barn, and a cemetery.

The ghost town is now home to a disc golf course, which does bring some traffic to the area.

Read More: Trips & Trails: Cinnamon Pass & Engineer Pass

Getting To Russell Gulch:

Take I-70 west from Denver to Exit 240. Head north on 13th Avenue two blocks and turn right on Colorado Boulevard. Head east on Colorado Boulevard 1 1/4 mile. Continue straight on Placer St. when Colorado Blvd. swings right. Virginia Canyon Road is on left just ahead.

What To Know:

Time: 2+ hours, and time to explore

Distance: 13.6-miles

Fuel: Gas is available in Idaho Springs. Even if you fill up there, it’s advisable to bring supplementary fuel along just in case.

Highest elevation: 9,150-feet

Water: Plan for one gallon of water per person per day. More if you visit during the summer months.

Permits: Permits are not required

If you have a few minutes, check out this video of a stock Subaru Crosstrek making the drive to Russell Gulch.

It shouldn’t have to be said, but please clean up after yourself when visiting the backcountry. Pack out what you pack in and leave your campsites cleaner than when you found them. Please treat the backcountry like you would your home.

Note: This editorial is for informational purposes only.  Trail conditions are variable and should be researched and confirmed by you prior to use.  Always obey property lines and use common sense to verify boundaries, roads, and trails.

Photo by Brett Willhelm


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