Chrysolite Mountain rises on the south side of the Chalk Creek Valley in the Sawatch Mountains of central Colorado. To the north, the steep scree covered slopes of Chrysolite drop more than 2500 vertical feet to reach the Chalk Creek. To the east and west, steep scree slopes go down to Grizzly Lake (11200 ft) and Pomeroy Gulch respectively. To the south, Chrysolite has a long and gentle boulder covered ridgeline that give rise to many false summits. This ridgeline slowly descends to a minimum of 12100 ft before it ascends again to create Peak 13070 ft (to the northeast of the 13151 ft Pomeroy Peak).
The word “Chrysolite” refers to a precious mineral (see link below). Evidence of late 19th and early 20th century mining can be found around Chrysolite Mountain, however, it appears that precious metals (and not chrysolte) were mined. The most notable of these mines is the Mary Murphy Mine (see link below) on the western slopes of Chrysolite Mountain. Today, visitors can see the decaying remains of the buildings and an aerial tramway used to transfer the minerals from the mine.
Chrysolite Mountain can probably be climbed by hiking up a Jeep Trail on the north side of the mountain that goes to the Iron Chest Mine (see link below). A more scenic option is to follow a Jeep Trail from the bottom of the Chalk Creek Valley to reach a huge alpine basin at around 12000 ft. This beautiful basin houses the Pomeroy Lakes and sits at the base of Pomeroy Mountain and Peak 13070 ft. From the basin, you will gain the gentle southern ridgeline of Chrysolite. Fun boulder hoping will get you past the false summits and to the top of Chrysolite Mountain.
Dwarfed Pine Trees:
On the nadir of the ridgeline between Chrysolite Mountain and Peak 13070 ft, at an elevation of 12100-12300 ft, you will find a beautiful forest of dwarfed and odd shaped pine trees clinging to life among the boulders. From the ridgeline, you can see Grizzly Lake on one side and the Pomeroy Lakes on the other.
From the town of Buena Vista drive 8 miles south on Route 285 to a place known as Nathrop and then turn west onto Route 162. Drive this road 15.3 miles to just before the ghost town of St. Elmo (the first 10 miles are paved and the rest is a well graded dirt road).
Turn left onto Route 295. This road is rougher but is still passable by most/any car. Continue 2.7 miles until you see a detour around an old decaying railroad bridge. Right after the detour, you will see a sign for the road to Mary Murphy Mine. This is your trailhead. Be ware that the detour around the railroad bridge is quite steep and rough and will probably require a four wheel drive vehicle. Without 4WD, you can start your hike just before the detour (only a few hundred feet longer).
Red Tape/CampingNo fees or permits needed for hiking. For other regulations see the official site for San Isabel National Forest.
WeatherSee the forecast for the town of Buena Vista, CO.
External LinksRead about chrysolite stone.
Read about Mary Murphy Mine.
Read about Mary Murphy/Pomeroy Lakes Jeep Trail.
Read about Iron Chest Mine Jeep Trail.
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