Hayden Pass is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 10,709 feet above the sea level.
Hayden Pass is a moderately difficult OHV point-to-point trail up and over and through the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness from Coaldale to Villa Grove, Colorado that offers some spectacular scenic views.
The pass is located in the Sangre de Cristo mountains. The road to the pass is an abandoned railroad grade. It is steep on both sides, with rocky areas. The road is a continuous climb with some moderate rocks to navigate. The downhill west side of Hayden Pass from Coaldale to Villa Grove is quite a long rocky descent.
West Side of Hayden Pass
Hayden Pass was used by the Utes to cross from the Arkansas River to the San Luis Valley. Some believe the pass gets its name from Ferdinand Hayden who crossed the pass in 1875. Others maintain that the pass is named for an early Wet Mountain Valley settler, Lewis Hayden.
Summer cloudburst on Hayden Pass
In 1874 the Canon City and San Luis Valley Wagon Road Company planned a route over the pass. In 1877 Hayden pass is shown as a trail in F. V. Hayden’s Atlas. By 1879 Hayden Pass was being used as a well known crossing of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range.
Tram from the Glory hole
From the 1880’s to the 1930’s the town of Oriental existed at the west entrance to Hayden Pass.
The Orient Mine on the Southwest side of Hayden Pass was active from 1880 through 1932. It was the largest producer of iron ore in Colorado, having produced about two million tons of limonite. The Orient Mine provided Iron Ore for the steel mill in Pueblo. A narrow gauge Denver & Rio Grande Rail line ran over Poncha Pass. Ore was then transported to Salida and then down the Arkansas River portion of the Tennessee pass Rail line from Salida to Pueblo.
Denver & Rio Grande NG Steam Train in the Northern San Luis Valley.
It is believed that the name Orient came from the Old French word meaning east (rising sun), since the mine is located on the eastern side of the San Luis Valley. (There is no evidence of Chinese or other Asian miners working in the mine.) The Orient Mine had two associated town sites – one in the upper area in the early years and the lower town site which was active in the early 1900’s. Today nothing remains of the towns except stories and a few foundations.
At its peak, the town of Orient had a population of more than 400, supporting a library, barber shop, school, 2 restaurants, a boarding house for 300, a saloon, a milling company and other small businesses.
Old Trestle at the Orient mine
For X-Roads we ride Hayden Pass from Coaldale to Villa Grove and Ute Pass , then to Saguache, or to Bonanza and the Otto Mears Toll Road, then onto the Rainbow trail.
Several Loop Option from 100 to 140+ Miles.
Singletrack Loop on the Rainbow trail including Hayden Pass and the Otto Mears Tollroad.
Dual Sport Loop includes the Arkansas River, Hayden Pass. Bonanza, the Otto Mears tollroad and the Rainbow trail.
See this Link to Rocky Mountain Passes of X-Roads