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 "Society Junction" 4 miles west of Telluride, drive south on SH145 and take the turnoff for Ophir. Drive east to the town and then continue east on FR630 (the Ophir Pass Road) to the coordinates provided. There is an old mining road that switchbacks up the mountainside to the old "Carbonero Mine" at about 11,450 ft. None of our maps ( USGS quad, Trails Illustrated, Uncompahgre NF) seem to agree on the exact location of this road and we have not been there since 1996, so you may have to do a little research on your own. The coordinates we've provided were taken from Google Earth and shows a road heading NE up through trees that at least eventually ties in with the road up to the mine. The USGS quad and Trails Illustrated maps show another road coming in from just out of Ophir and joining the track to the mine. In 1996, we could never find this access, so we drove east up FR630 to a little ways past the turnoff for Swamp Canyon and located a 4WD track that took us all the way to the mine where we parked. The Uncompahgre NF map does not show this road at all, so it may be closed, at least to vehicle traffic.
An article in a 2014 May edition of the Telluride Daily Planet indicates that the Colorado Division of Reclamation Mining and Safety was calling for bids to help mitigate the water coming from the mine that has in the past caused tailings to spill down and over the Ophir Pass road. Glenn Pauls is the owner of the property and has accumulated over 1,100 acres in old mining claims in hopes of an eventual trade with the National Forest Service. All this suggests that access to the mine may be closed. If so, San Joaquin and Silver Mtn. may be accessed by two other possibilities: 1. Trails Illustrated and the USGS quad both indicate an old road that heads north out of Ophir to the Gertrude Mine. The ridge off the east side of Straatsburg Basin could then provide a means of accessing the east-west ridge that connects Silver Mtn. and San Joaquin Ridge. 2. About a half mile east of the turnoff for Swamp Canyon on FR630, there's a trailhead for FR508.1A which leads across the ridge, dumping hikers into the head of Bridal Veil Basin. It crosses the ridge just east of Pt.13,432. From there, you could hike west along the ridge crest to the true summit of San Joaquin Ridge.
While there are no designated Forest Service campgrounds near Ophir along FR630, there are a limited number of primitive sites where you may be able to vehicle camp overnight. Be aware of private property issues. Back north along SH145, there's the "Sunshine" campground about two miles back from the Ophir turnoff.