Tomichi Pass Trail is a 4,6 miles trail located in Chaffee County, Colorado (USA), at an elevation of 8,556 to 11,985 feet, driveable from July to October. The road starts in Forest Service Road 839.
Due its unique location and the climb in elevation over thousands of feet, and passing through remote areas, it is important when driving in these conditions to be prepared. The trail is open only from July to September: June (The upper section is usually still closed by snow), July (Possible opening depending on snow level), August, September (Best), October (Early in the month). Check weather forecasts before leaving home, and remember that it becomes cooler and often more prone to storms at higher elevations. Be prepared with jackets, water, and emergency kit in your car.
The unpaved sections of the road can be impassable when wet. Be careful crossing deteriorating log bridge at bog. Trail is suitable for stock, high-clearance SUVs with low-range gearing. Not recommended for novice drivers or anyone afraid of heights. After rain, sections of road can become decidedly hazardous when fast-flowing creek crossings and slippery mud can cause road closures. As always, check road conditions before departing. In any case, driving 4WD is recommended due to uneven surface. During and after a storm the road may be impassable, even with a four-wheel-drive vehicle and can easily get muddy if it rains making it challenging to get through.
Proper preparation is essential to having a safe, enjoyable trop on this road. Due to the remoteness of the area, take special care to ensure that your vehicle is ready for the trip: inspect all tires and make sure they are properly inflated, check all vehicle fluids, replace worn hoses and belts, empty your RV's holding tank and fill the water tank, purchase groceries and supplies. If you are ready to try a difficult trail that doesn’t involve serious rock crawling, this is your opportunity. Views going up are spectacular but the driver won’t be able to enjoy them until he reaches the pass. Don’t start up the trail if someone is coming down even though uphill drivers have the right of way. For the vehicle, bring at least two full-sized spare tires mounted on rims, tire jack and tools for flat tires, emergency flares, extra gasoline, motor oil, and wiper fluid and a radio.
This trail passes through remote areas, so you need to be prepared. 4 wheeling is an inherently dangerous activity and shouldn’t be attempted without the appropriate training and equipment. The area is remote, so make sure you go with another vehicle. ATVs and dirt bikes will feel at home on the narrow trail. So, understand your vehicles 4 wheel drive system and know how to use it; make sure you know your cars dimensions and lowest point of clearance – you don’t want to get stuck in the middle of nowhere; at all times, make sure you travel with at least one passenger and one other vehicle. Take emergency supplies and extra parts; make sure you know your route. Know where you are and know where you are going; careful preparation for your trip will ensure that if, and when, things do go wrong, you are prepared for the situation.
It’s a real challenging road and a true test of your vehicle and your stamina because the road abounds in twists and turns with wheels sometimes hanging above the precipice. The road is dangerous based on the narrowness of the trail rather than the road surface. Passing is extremely difficult on the north side. You may have to back up a considerable distance if you meet another vehicle. There are no hard-core obstacles, but several places are moderately rocky. A traveler on this road must be experienced and completely devoted to safe, slow and obstacle-conscious driving to deter danger. To drive this trail, you must have supreme confidence in your vehicle and your driving skills.
Make sure you get your vehicle and yourself well-prepared before driving this road. The town of Tomichi (near site of cemetery) had a population of 1500 during the boom years of the 1880s. The silver crash of 1893 brought an end to the town. In 1896 a few prospectors returned, but most were killed in 1899 when a snowslide destroyed the town. Remnants of building foundations can be found with patient examination of the area. The road bad conditions, with extremely large pot holes could potentially pop a tire, crack a rim, or screw up your cars allignment. Never underestimate this track!
This hill is actually pretty steep and the ground is very loose rock and dirt. It is gated after the mine that is at the top. Tomichi Pass lies just south of Hancock pass and about one mile north of the small settlement of Sargents on Highway 50. The summit is only about one mile from the fork with Hancock Pass, which makes for a nice and short side trip if you're not wanting to go further south. The road is quite straight forward and only has two items to note: one being the noticeable shelf road carved on the mountain on the north side, and the other is the bridge which spans an eroded section of the road.
The shelf road is not much narrower than many other roads. You won't be able to pass any other vehicles along this section, save for any quads or bikes you might encounter, so it pays to be watching closely for any traffic starting up or down the road. The aforementioned bridge is actually the toughest part of the trail! Sounds funny, but the bridge is in pretty poor shape. If wet, you could slide off and get pretty tippy in the muddy section at the one end. The road is pretty smooth for the duration. The southern approach is just your typical forest road.