Iron Chest... I had often thought of being able to run this trail but over the years I never dreamed that I would have a vehicle that was up to the task of nailing the Iron Chest. The Iron Chest is often considered the 2nd roughest 4X4 trail in Colorado second only to the Lake Como road up Mount Blanca and it has earned this #2 reputation! What a name... Iron Chest! You need an Iron Chest and large cajones to run this trail! When this road was originally constructed back in the 1870's it was a pretty decent wagon road. Years of neglect following the Iron Chest Mines closing have eroded this wagon road into nothing more than a wash that is full of large rocks for almost a mile and it is now a Mecca to those that want to test the mettle of their rigs. To traverse this road now requires a vehicle that has good ground clearance, low gearing and a tested driver that knows how to maneuver his rig across the rocky trail.
We started out with just the P.O.S.T. and my brothers Rubicon as we knew that Brandon's FJ was not quite up to the task of closing the Chest. That was good for me as it gave me an additional photographer to document the trail and all that we discovered on this day of high country exploration.
The first 3/4 of a mile or so are nothing but a boulder field and progress is slow. Interesting but slow! Having made our way through this first rough section we then easily cruised on up to the mine and spent an hour or so exploring the remains of the Iron Chest mine which lies directly opposite the mountain from the famous Mary Murphy Mine that was one of the main producers of ore for the area during it's heyday.
After exploring the Iron Chest we headed back down the mountain and got to see some deer hanging out at the entrance of another old mine up on the mountain side. Lastly, we stopped and explored the remains of another old mine on the way down and I was amazed at the amount of Iron Pyrite that covered the dump of this old mine. The dump literally sparkled with "gold" as it was covered with nothing but "Fools Gold"! I have never seen this much Fools Gold in one place in all the years I have wandered these mountains. It was amazing!
We finished up the Iron Chest Trail and then headed over to check out some of the Mary Murphy Mines remains before calling it a day, and a good day it had been!!
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.