The Stage 3 fire and access restrictions to the San Juan National Forest have been rolled back to a Stage 2 condition which means access to the forest is once more open to the public. However, fire conditions still remain high and we are currently in the middle of a strong heat wave. Consult current regulations with the San Juan NF before planning any trips. Fines for violations are significant.
From the east end of the town of Silverton, where the main, paved road splits, veer right onto blue-signed County Road 2 which heads up along the Animas River. (On Trails Illustrated map #141, this road is labeled as #110.) Drive about 1.7 miles to an historical marker with a fairly large parking area, on the south side of the road and across from the tailings of the Mayflower Mine. The creek from Boulder Gulch cuts through the two large tailings piles. Begin your hike from this historical marker.
There is no legal camping in the immediate vicinity. If in need of a camp spot for the night, try driving further up along the Animas to around Howardsville where a large open, rock-strewn field has become the summer domain of a multitude of RV's, campers, etc. Or, north of Silverton on HWY550, drive up along the South Fork of Mineral Creek road and search out an at-large spot. Summer competition for campsites, especially on weekends, makes finding a quiet, private spot difficult.