Middle Fork of the Swan River  
Maps:                 
USGS 7.5' Map: Boreas Pass, Keystone, Montezuma
Statistics:
Difficulty: Number: Miles: Altitude: Obstacles: Time:
Moderate 5 FR 6.2 6.00 9,880 to 12,600 ft. Rock 1 3-4 hours
County: Summit
Adopted by:      
Managed by: White River National Forest
Dillon Ranger District
680 Blue River Parkway
Silverthorne, CO 80498
970-468-5400
Summary: The Middle Fork Swan River 4WD road climbs the gulch formed by the Middle Fork of the Swan River past the ghost town of Swandyke to the flat top of Wise Mountain. There is one section of steep rocky outcroppings to navigate.
Attractions: Scenery, History
Seasonal
Closure:
Agency - November 23 to May 20
Best Time: June - Snow may still cover upper sections
July - Best
August - Best
September - Best
Trail Heads
Accessed:
Colorado Trail, hiking trail
Camping: There are quite a few dispersed campsites at the western end of the Middle Fork of the Swan 4WD road. The eastern half is mostly above timberline with few level areas.
Base Camp: This would be a good area to base camp with Georgia Pass FR 355, Glacier Ridge FR 258, Boreas Pass Cnty 10, North Fork of the Swan FR 354, Garibaldi Gulch FR 356, Saints John FR 275, and the Golden Horseshoe network.
Fall Colors: Average - There are some small stands of aspen along the north side of the gulch.
Navigation: From Breckenridge, CO head north on North Main Street toward Wellington Road. After 0.6 miles, at the traffic circle, take the first exit onto Colorado Hwy 9 North / Main Street. Continue to follow Colorado Hwy 9 North for 2.9 miles. Turn right onto County Rd 6 / Tiger Road and go 6.2 miles. Continue onto Middle Fork Swan Road and go 0.8 miles. Here the road will turn east and start up the Middle Fork of the Swan 4WD road.

From Frisco, CO. head south on Colorado Hwy 9 / Summit Blvd toward Granite Street. Continue to follow Colorado Hwy 9 for 5.6 miles. Turn left onto County Rd 6 / Tiger Road and go 6.2 miles. Continue onto Middle Fork Swan Road and go 0.8 miles. Here the road will turn east and start up the Middle Fork of the Swan 4WD road.
History: The Middle Fork of the Swan River is home to the Ghost Town of Swandyke. It prospered in the late 1890's and had an upper section close to the headwaters of the Middle Fork of the Swan River and a lower section about a mile down river.

Carl Fulton arrived in the Breckenridge area in the mid 1890's from Ohio to try his hand at gold mining. All of the good claims had been staked by the time he arrived so he headed up the Swan River and then up the Middle Fork of the Swan River where he found gold ore at the surface. The town of Swandyke formed below these discoveries. There was stage service to Breckenridge and Jefferson over Georgia Pass. The town had the Summit House Hotel, a boarding house, general merchandise store, and a few saloons. There were a few mines and even a mill to process the ore. The area mines were run by the Swandyke Gold Mining and Milling Company. The remote location and heavy snows made shipping the ore out expensive.

The winter of 1898 to 1899 was one of the worst in Summit County. The snow piled up to the rooftops in Swandyke. Fulton continued working his mine piling the ore near his cabin waiting for spring. An avalanche carried the ore down the mountainside and destroyed one of the mills. Mining continued and a large partly oxidized gold vein was mined at the Pompeii mine with values as high as $90 per ton. One vein of gold bearing quartz had gold particles large enough to see and assayed close to $2000 per ton.
Description:
The Middle Fork of the Swan 4WD road is part of a large network of 4WD roads east of Breckenridge. It begins at the bottom of the Middle Fork of the Swan River where it connects with the South Fork of the Swan and the Swan river proper. The road follows the gulch skirting the edge of a large marshy part of the Middle Fork of the Swan River. There will be dispersed campsites along this lower section. After about a mile the Colorado Trail will cross the road and head up Missouri Gulch.

After another mile and a half there is a right turn that crosses the river. This is the road up to S.O.B. Hill road, that connects with the Glacier Ridge 4WD road, FR 258.

After another half mile you will come to the single cabin that is the ghost town of Swandyke.

Swandyke Cabin

photo by:
Adam Mehlberg

Just past Swandyke there is an intersection. The left turn is FR 325 which climbs a short distance toward the mines behind Swandyke. The right turn continues up the gulch toward timberline becoming less traveled and rougher. As you climb above timberline you will come to the loose, steep section of road that makes up the obstacle and continues up the Middle Fork of the Swan River to its source. Bullion Mountain, 12,948 feet, and Sheep Mountain, 12,495 feet, will be on the south side of the gulch.

Once on top of the ridge you will be able to look over into Hall Valley to the northeast. The Missouri Mine and Whale Mine are in the valley below with Handcart Peak on the opposite side of Hall Valley.

From this scenic view take the left road heading north to climb to the top of the flat plain of Wise Mountain following the ridge above Hall Valley. Here you will connect with the Saints John 4WD road, FR 275.
Data updated December 24, 2012       4WD Road driven September 3, 2010       Copyright 4X4Explore.com - 2000-2013