Many times I’ve been in Silverton, Colorado, and have wondered what that strange road was across the way. Yesterday, I found out. It leads to Kendall Mountain, or, more properly, the basin underneath Kendall Mountain. But first, how to cross the river? I tried several ways and found that there’s a bridge on 14th Street that leads to the base of San Juan County Road 33, Kendall Mountain Road.
The initial part of the road isn’t that bad and the ascent not that steep. The road is quite bumpy due to rocks embedded in the road surface, but the scree is yet to come. After you’ve gone up a ways, you can look across the valley at US Highway 550 on the other side of the canyon.
I took the left fork first. I encountered scree a little bit at a time. Thinking (stupidly) that the scree just might lessen right around the next corner, I kept on going up. There were spots where there was no soil—just scree. I finally made my way to the top, or at least as high as I was going. There were a further couple very short switchbacks going up a couple hundred feet to a mine adit (entrance). The switchbacks were snow-covered in some cases. That didn’t stop the 4-wheeler shown in the image from trying, though!
Ah, what goes up must come down. I’ll tell you, by this time I was pretty tired. I’d already been over Corkscrew Pass and then up this steep road. I wasn’t all that graceful going down, and on one corner, almost all the way back to the main fork, I was simply going too slowly around a corner and fell. I didn’t hurt anything (me or the bike), but it reminded me to keep my speed up. On another steep, scree-filled switchback, I was going faster (8 mph?) and hit a rock really wrong. The steering wobbled all over the place, but I stayed upright, rather amazed that I’d done so.
When I got to the fork, I opted to follow the south fork. This road features much less scree and is not nearly so steep. Much of it travels through “primeval” forest: dense, tall conifers. Very pretty, really. I followed the road into a meadow. There was some scree, but it’s not a problem on level ground. But as the road became steeper and the scree more common, I simply turned around.
The road down from there isn’t bad. As you can see in the next photo, by the time I stopped to look at this great view of Silverton, the road itself is bumpy with embedded rock, but not so much scree. All in all, I’m glad I went. If I go up again, I will certainly take the right fork. I would rate the road as intermediate except for the left fork, which I’d rate high intermediate, about what my skill level is if I’m not tired.