Elevation: 10, 333 ft - 10,700 ft
Elevation Gain: 267 ft
Dogs: Off Leash
The central portion of the Gold Dust Trail (County Road 50 to Forest Road 801) out of Como is a serene and easy traverse along a long forgotten flume that once diverted water from North Tarryall Creek to mining operations in the upper Tarryall Drainage. This nearly flat trail weaves lazily through a mixed Lodgepole and Ponderosa Pine Forest with only a few "peak-a-boos" to the east. It exudes solitude and is a great trail for novices or those that like to feel the hush of winter.
The trailhead off of Country Road 50. Note the sign says 698. The map lists this trail as 653 (Cratch).(On the left: A rare photo of the author who is usually behind the camera. On this trip she ignominiously forgot it. All photos are credited to Suzanne Cratch or another anonymous participant. Thanks Ya'll!)
On this trip the snow was at least 3 feet deep and piled in soft, rolling drifts. Not a pine needle stirred and the gray skies hung over the area like a comforting blanket. Some group had broken trail before us, which made the going much easier. Their passage resulted in a hip-width trench with 1.5 to 2 ft sides that had more curves to it than a bobsled run. All of the elevation gain on this trail occurs in the first quarter mile of the trail. This trail is very well marked. Blue blazes dot the trees almost every few feet or so it seemed. There are even blue arrows at strategic intersections.
As we were sloshing along, I could not figure out how this trail could be so flat and so continuously curvy until I returned home and read about the flume. My instincts had been right. There was something not quite natural about our route. The labors of long dead miners had created an artificial topography. I am sure they never envisioned the flume being used by under exercised suburbanites looking to escape the city. Burning calories was not a problem for those hearty pioneers.
Como is probably not your list of places to visit this winter, but this trail should not be overlooked by those seeking an outdoor adventure unmarred by exessive panting. I rarely recommend trails totally in the trees, but this trail touched me. Its soft lines, and quiet aspect have a meditative quality that is worth experiencing.