Bachelor Loop  
USGS 7.5' Map: Creede, San Luis Peak
Difficulty: Number: Miles: Altitude: Obstacles: Time:
Easy Graded FR504, FR503 6.0 10,662 ft. None 3-4 hours
County: Mineral
Adopted by:      
Managed by: Rio Grande National Forest
Divide Ranger District
Third and Creede Avenue
Creede, CO 81130
Summary: The Bachelor Loop road is an easy graded gravel road that circuits through the major mines north of Creede, Colorado.
Attractions: Mining History, Scenic
Agency - March 14 to May 16
Best Time: June - Best.
July - Best.
August - Best.
September - Best.
October - Be prepared for early snows.
Trail Heads
FT787 (motorized, 50 inch or less) - The historical La Garita Stock Driveway, 91.9 miles long.
Camping: There are a few spots to camp at the north end of the loop. Most of the area is private property.
Base Camp: This would be a great area to base camp and explore the mining history of Creede.
Fall Colors: Very Good - There are some aspen stands along the road out of Creede. Larger aspen stands are along the upper, west part of the loop near the Bachelor town site.
Navigation: From Colorado Highway 149 head north on South Main Street through Creede, Colorado for 0.5 miles. South Main Street turns into County Road 503, West Willow Creek Road. This is the start of the Bachelor Loop.
History: "In 1883, the earliest discoveries in the Creede area took place at Sunnyside, a short distance west of present-day Creede. J. C. MacKenzie and H. M. Bennet located the Alpha claim. In 1884, James A. Wilson located the Bachelor claim, north of Creede. These discoveries met with little initial success. In 1889, Nicholas Creede and his partners located the Holy Moses claim along narrow East Willow Creek northeast of Creede. His additional discovery of the Solomon claim in 1890 formed the King Solomon District. The ore values at the Holy Moses Mine gained the interest and investment of Denver financier and industrialist David H. Moffat.

More major discoveries were made in 1891 along West Willow Creek, north of Creede. J. C. MacKenzie and W. V. McGilliard located the Commodore claim. Theodore Renniger and Julius Haas, discovered the Last Chance claim. Nicholas Creede staked the Amethyst claim next to the Last Chance. George K. Smith and S. D. Coffin located the New York claim, a southern extension of the Last Chance. These discoveries, along with the Bachelor claim were all along the fabulous Amethyst vein.

Creede experienced a mining boom and the population swelled to 15,000. Many miners came from other San Juan mining camps including Silverton, Telluride, and Ouray. The town, then known as “Jimtown,” expanded outside the narrow canyons to its present location then known as South Creede. The Denver and Rio Grande Railroad was extended west from Wagon Wheel Gap to Creede in late-1891. The old and new parts of town were incorporated as Creede in 1892. By the end of 1892, the District was at its peak and had produced ore valued at over $4.2 million. The Amethyst and Last Chance Mines were the most important producers.

As the depths of the mines increased so did the inflows of water. In the early 1890’s, Charles F. Nelson’s Nelson Tunnel Company drove a drainage and haulage adit toward Bachelor Mountain but failed to encounter workable ore. The Wooster Tunnel Company connected the Nelson Tunnel to the Amethyst Mine. The Amethyst, Last Chance, and New York Mines paid royalties to the tunnel company for ore haulage and drainage. The Wooster Tunnel was later extended, as the Humphreys Tunnel, to the Happy Thought and Park Regent Mines. A haulage track on the surface connected the portal of the Nelson-Wooster-Humphreys Tunnel to the Humphreys Mill which was built in 1902 at the narrow junction of East and West Willow Creek. The Commodore Mine developed its own drainage tunnel.

The repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, the Panic of 1893, and associated drop in the silver price caused most mines to close and the population of Creede to decline. In the years that followed, mining had its ups and downs as the silver price fluctuated. In 1930 all mining ceased. In 1934, the mines reopened when the government pegged the price of silver. The Emperius Mining Company and Creede Mines controlled the district. In the 1950’s, the U. S. Geological Survey announced the potential of the Bulldog Mountain Fault as a mineralized vein system. In 1960, Manning Cox and Fred Baker staked claims along the projection of the fault. The Homestake Mining Company optioned the Bulldog Mountain properties in 1963 and began an extensive exploration program. Homestake’s Bulldog Mill began production in 1969. Other companies did exploration in the Creede District in the 1970’s but did not develop any additional production. The Homestake’s Bulldog Mine closed in 1985 due to very low metal prices.

The Creede District has produced nearly 5 million tons of ore yielding over 84 million ounces of silver plus substantial amounts of lead, zinc, copper, and gold."

From the Mining History Association"
As you leave Creede on the West Willow Creek road you will pass by the Creede Underground Mining Museum. West Willow Creek road is a well maintained road. Past the museum a bridge crosses the creek to the right to climb up East Willow Creek. There is also a large information kiosk here. Stay to the left following West Willow Creek. In less than a half mile you will come to the huge Nelson Tunnel ore bins.
Commadore Mines

photo by:
Adam M

Nelson Tunnel ore bins

photo by:
Adam M

Nelson Tunnel ore bins

photo by:

The road continues along Willow Creek, after leaving the Nelson and Commadore complex, through a narrow canyon. Where the canyon widens out will be a few buildings along the road with a large tailings area to the northwest. This is the Last Chance and Amethyst mine complex.
Amethyst mines

photo by:
Adam M

From here the road continues along Nelson Creek and ties in with the other end of the East Willow Creek road. At this intersection turn sharp left following the main road past multiple side roads.

The road will continue through the tress before coming out into more open terrain where you will be back with Willow Creek below the road. At the next large intersection where there is a loop parking area take the left hand turn and head south to remain on the Bachelor Loop. Straight ahead, or right will take you to the Equity Mine and the headwaters of Willow Creek. From the end of the main road you can take a 4WD road up to the Continental Divide and into the Rat Creek drainage.

Following the Bachelor Loop you will pass the Park Regent Shaft before coming to another intersection. Stay ot the right. The left will go to the top of the ridge where the Last Chance mines are. When you come out of the trees into a large open meadow, this is the area where the town of Bachelor was. Continue with the main road as it does a sweeping curve into an area with a wide valley below. This area is below Bulldog Mountain and was where the Bulldog and Puzzler tunnels were.

The road will cross through open meadows and groves of trees as it works along the side of Bulldog Mountain. You will pass private residences as you head down toward the west side of Creede. Stay with the main road. Just before you reach Creede you will pass a left turn that takes you to the cemetary. A half mile from the cemetary turn you will be in Creede.
Data updated: December 18, 2013        4WD Road driven: July 26, 2010        Copyright - 2000-2014