Saturday, February 5, 2011

Sally Barber - True Romance Mine Snowshoe

Distance: 3 miles out and back to the Sally Barber Mine, 4.6 miles out and back to the True Romance Mine, 4 miles for the loop
Elevation: 10, 280 ft - 10, 685 ft (Sally Barber) - 11, 000 ft (True Romance)
Elevation Gain: 405 ft (Sally Barber), 720 ft (True Romance)

The ruins of the Sally Barber mine near Breckenridge CO are a popular snowshoe destination. 
The road to the Sally Barber Mine is a short, easy snowshoe to a interesting mining ruin near the town of Breckenridge CO. The route itself is uninspiring except for some nice meadow views at the beginning but for history buffs or cross country skiers, this is a great choice. If you are going only to Sally Barber, you might want to leave the snowshoes in the car and walk up on spikes since this popular route is usually well packed.

The parking lot
Trailhead sign
The route to Sally Barber starts in the same parking lot as French Gulch. 500 ft up the road, is a spur road with a gate. Follow this for 1.5 miles to the obvious ruin on the right hand side. Interpretive signs provide history of the mine itself and the local area.

The gate that indicates where the route to the Sally Barber Mine splits off from French Gulch
This route is popular with skiers because it is wide and gradual.
Across the road from Sally Barber is another gate and post indicating the route to the True Romance Mine. The route to the True Romance Mine goes straight up the hillside 300 ft through deep snow. There are no trail markers and lots of backcountry ski trails to avoid, so only do this if the route has been tracked or you have a GPS.

Snow mushroom along the route
Meadow view at the beginning of the route
Using a GPS, head upwards to the 11,000 ft contour which dead ends at a small bluff. The True Romance Mine is off to the left. From this point on the route is flat and follows what might be an old flume around the side of the hill. A few views of the northern Gore Range present themselves along the way.

Passing a serene winter creek
At 2.3 miles is a small plateau with a post with the works "True Romance" inscribed on it. There is no other ruin to mark the spot. At this point you have the choice of turning around and retracing your steps (4.6 miles total) or following what appears to be a road off to the right. Having never been to the area, we did not take this path and ended up on a less than pleasant bushwhack straight down the hillside.

The ruins of the Sally Barber Mine
Post at the start of the route to the True Romance Mine
View to the north from the 11,000 ft contour
We made this poor choice because someone had sprinkled the trees with pink reflective tape indicating a route down the mountain. We thought this was the route to the unnamed road we passed on the way up to Sally Barber. After trudging through trees, willows, and deep snow we finally intersected with the road that probably starts to the right of True Romance. I can not guarantee this, but the track on the GPS makes it a high probability so I feel comfortable sending you that way. 

True Romance Mine marker
So, for a short snowshoe just travel to the Sally Barber Mine. For a longer loop or out and back head up the hill for some increased cardiovascular activity. The True Romance Mine is not a destination spot, but your body and cholesterol levels will thank you for the extra effort.


OldSchoolHaiku said...

Great story & pics as always.

My Life Outdoors said...

looks like Rich History and a nice hike! Thanks for sharing!