For anyone planning on visiting Hinsdale County/Lake City area, be aware of the following road closures. Visit this link for more details. Click Here For the San Juan National Forest click here to be taken to a page on their site that has road closure information. Currently there is no off-road/primitive site camping allowed along the South Mineral Creek FS585 out of SIlverton. Do your research before leaving. Many areas commonly accessible by this time of year are still closed! Check other National Forest websites for additional information.
From Lake City, proceed south on HWY 149 and take the turnoff to the right (south) for Lake San Cristobal a little over 2 miles out of town and after gaining some elevation. Continue south around the lake on the west side and follow CR3 (BLM 3306; CR30 on Trails Illustrated #141) past the Williams Creek, then the Mill Creek (13.2 miles from Lake City) campgrounds to the road intersection at Sherman. (1.2 miles past the Mill Creek CG) The right fork heads up to the trailhead for Handies/Sunshine/Redcloud, etc. along what is called the "Shelf Road," which is also the way to Cinnamon Pass. Take the left fork instead which is CR35 or BLM 3309, remaining in the low valley following Cottonwood Creek and drive 1.5 mile to the trailhead for Cataract Gulch. To this point, the road may be driven by most standard type passenger vehicles as of 2014.
Continue on the same road for another 3.5 miles to the Cuba Gulch TH. The remainder of this distance is best navigated by 4WD vehicles with better ground clearance. After the Cataract Gulch TH, the road becomes immediately rougher and rocky. About .8 mile from the end of the road at Cuba Gulch TH, there is a good camp spot. See coordinates below. One tenth mile beyond there is an old abandoned, shot-up vehicle. From there, it's .7 mile to the end of the road. There is also good camping and plenty of room there, but of the two times we've been to the end, on one occasion, there were two large hunting parties camped there at the end of August. The trail starts out by crossing the creek on a log bridge. Hopefully the logs are still there. On our drive up this road in 2010, along that last .7 mile, a portion of the road constricted quite a bit because of tall willows that were draped over the road and would scratch your vehicle. On a return trip in 2014, someone had come in there with some sort of machine that had cut all those willows back and made the road much more passable. Nice to see some maintenance done on one of these more remote roads.
Camp either at the trailhead (see coordinates above) or try this location about .8 mile from the end of the road at the coordinates below. Camping is also available at the Cataract Gulch TH or you can always try to use the Williams Creek or Mill Creek FS campgrounds on the drive in.