Old Chalk Creek  
USGS 7.5' Map: St. Elmo
Difficulty: Number: Miles: Altitude: Obstacles: Time:
1 FR292 2.47 9,070 to 9,980 ft. NA 1 hour
County: Chaffee
Adopted by:      
Managed by: Pike San Isabel, Salida Ranger District 325 West Rainbow Blvd. Salida, CO 81201 719-539-3591
Summary: Old Chalk Creek 4WD road is a side road off of the old railroad grade to St. Elmo. It passes through the town of Alpine and around Alpine Lake, then through the ghost town of Iron City to St. Elmo.
Attractions: History. Mine remains.
Natural - Closed by snow fall
Best Time: June - May still have snow
July - Best
August - Best
September - Best
October - Early snows possible
Trail Heads Mt. Princeton, Grouse Canyon Trailhead - Hiking
Camping: There is a Forest Service campground at the Iron City site.
Base Camp: This would be a good area to base camp. There are a lot of 4WD roads around St. Elmo.
Fall Colors: Poor - mostly pine forest.
Navigation: From Buena Vista, head west on West Main Street toward West Lake Street and go 0.8 miles. Turn left onto County Road 321/Rodeo Road and continue to follow County Road 321 for 8.1 miles. Turn right onto County Road 162 and go 5.7 miles. Turn right onto FR292/CR292.

From Poncha Springs head north on US Hwy 285 N toward Poncha Avenue for 0.6 miles. Turn right to stay on US Hwy 285 N and go 15.5 miles. Turn left onto County Road 162/Chalk Creek Drive. Continue to follow County Road 162 for 10.2 miles. Turn right onto FR292/CR292.
History: Iron City was a smelter town built in 1880. Ore with gold and silver were brought down from the mines on Chrysolite Mountain and processed to extract the precious metals. An electric generating plant was also built here that, for a short time, supplied power to a dredge near Tin Cup. With the arrival of the railroad the need for the smelter ended. Iron City was only populated for 2 years before its citizens moved to St. Elmo or to other new towns to find new riches. The town site is now a campsite with the cemetery just down the road. Volunteers have worked on the Iron City cemetery over the years putting in new pickets and building pathways between the graves. They also created a kiosk at the entrace with a list of the cemetaries residents. Look for the gravestone for Sarah and Sadie Mullens, two small girls - "Born a year apart, died a day apart, buried a hand apart". The road was once the wagon road to St. Elmo from Nathrop. The newer "old" power plant may have been used during World War 1 to supply power to the Ohio Lode Mill in St. Elmo.

Eberhart, Perry Guide to Colorado Ghost Towns and Mining Camps, 4th ed. Athens, Ohio: Swallow Press, 1974. Print.
Wolle, Muriel Sibell Timberline Tailings, 1st ed. Athens, Ohio: Swallow Press, 1977. Print.
Old Chalk Creek road starts just east of the town of Alpine along the road from Natrhop to St. Elmo. You will turn right off County Road 162 and immediately cross a bridge over Chalk Creek. The road is two lane graded gravel. As you head west on the north side of the creek you will pass the Mount Princeton-Grouse Canyon trailhead. The road will follow along the creek heading west. After about a mile and a quarter from the bridge you will come to the small town of Alpine. There will be private homes along the road. After passing through the main part of town you will see Alpine Lake ahead. Here you will come to an intersection. A left will take you back across another bridge to County Road 162. Take the right to continue on FR292. You will pass two right turns that are other streets in the small community. Continue straight to a sharp left turn in the road. From here the road will become a single lane with a rougher surface. After a short distance you will come out of the trees and drive along the north shore of Alpine Lake. After passing the lake you will head back into the trees and cross Sheep Canyon on the right side of the road.

The road will be above the creek along this section as you continue west. You will pass Coal Camp Canyon on the right side of the road next, then drop down close to the creek and pass some marshy areas on the left side of the road. The road will then pass an open area with a few building remains, and one intact building. Not far beyond the open area there will be a spur road to the right that goes to an old building under some power lines.
Old power plant

photo by:
Adam M

Old power plant

photo by:
Adam M

Old power plant, water pipe in floor

photo by:
Adam M

The building appears to be for a water driven turbine based on the large pipe in the floor and channel behind the building. The building has a concrete foundation and anchors for the equipment. On the lower side is a stone lined channel off into the trees. There is also a smaller building in the trees.

Back on the road, keep heading west climbing above the creek again. Next you will come to a wide parking area on the right side of the road. This parking area is just below the Iron City Cemetery. Walk down the road a short distance to the entrance to the cemetery. Just past the cemetery you will pass through the Iron City campground. It is made up of pull-offs into the trees along the road. Past the campsites will be the entrance kiosk for the campground and then a private drive on the right. Next you will cross a bridge over the creek and climb up to intersect with County Road 162 just east of St. Elmo.
Data updated - November 30, 2021       4WD Road driven - July 19, 2021       Copyright 4X4Explore.com - 2000-2021