There is something rather satisfying about getting off the beaten path and going where no path is at all.
New areas are explored and crowds are left behind. With the right skill set, safety level, and personal level of responsibility, some new faces of a well-known area are seen.
And part of this love of exploration? Is finding “ghost trails.”
Ghost Trails are sometimes stumbled upon but are usually listed on old topo maps as a pack trail.Old mining trail still in excellent condition. Not on current trail maps.
Ghost Trails should not be counted on, but are bliss when discovered. And they usually go over the very pass you were planning to go over as well. The technology may have been older in the 1880s, but the skill to read the land has not changed.
Ghost Trails are typically old miner trails that became recreational trails. Years of disuse and often budget cuts mean the trails are no longer maintained.
Trails above or near treeline tend to still be in good condition. Find yourself in a wooded area or a meadow? The Ghost Trail does live up to its name, and only a faint impression is often left that fades in and out of view.
How to find these Ghost Trails? Simply plan your route in an area that has old mines, homesteads, or other artifacts from near the end of the last century. And find an area that is relatively little use.
Throughout the American West, there are many of these Ghost Trails.
When you find them, be it by planning or happenstance, enjoy walking a little bit of forgotten outdoors history.
Besides the (sometimes) easier hiking, you are often led to a memorable place.
Savor the view, enjoy the solitude, and take pleasure that you found this Ghost Trail by looking at a map, planning a trip, and moving on one step at a time.Saddle at the end of a Ghost Trail in the San Juans.