Eureka LbNA # 1711 (ARCHIVED)
|Placed Date||Aug 16 2002|
Name: The Eureka Letterbox
Place: Smuggler's Mountain, Aspen, CO
Placed by: Uncle Mikey
Date of Placement: August 16, 2002
Difficulty: Strenuous for acclimated hikers
Distance to letterbox: 3 miles
From I-70, make your way to Aspen via state highway 83. Follow 83 into Aspen, where it will turn into Main Street and take you through downtown Aspen.
Towards the eastern end of downtown, the road will narrow from two lanes to one, and go round a bend. Take the next left (Neal Ave) and it will bring you over the "No Problem" Bridge. At the first stop sign, turn right onto Gibson Ave, then make a left onto Park Circle (A sign for Smuggler's Mine should also be here). Turn right onto Smuggler Mountain Road, and there will be a parking area just at the end of the paved road.
The dirt road that continues goes up Smuggler's Mountain, and while the hardiest four wheel drive vehicles can make it up the mountain, it is not adviseable, since there are few places to park along the road, and the trail you will follow eventually becomes a "Hiker's only" trail.
As you walk up the steep graded switchbaking road, you will pass
Smuggler's Mine, which I believe has been active since it was founded in the late 19th century. You will pass many a lookout over Aspen as you continue upwards, and the views get better and better. Eventually, you will come to sort of a crossroads (about 1.5 miles) which consists of a trail going nearly opposite of yours, a private road, and Warren Lakes road dead ahead. Continue up on Warren Lakes road, and it will get much rockier and a little steeper.
After about .5 miles, you will enter into a somewhat open space, with
campground areas on the left, and the road ascending into the woods on the right. Follow the road to the right, and soon you will pass a sign declaring this to be the boundary for the National Forest System Lands. Soon after that will be a post marker, on the right, informing you of a "Foot Travel Only" trail which leads up the mountain, away from the road. It is steep, rocky, covered with felled trees, and almost seems like not a trail at all. Soon, you will happen upon a level stretch, and then a clearing which contains what looks like a giant metal billboard. No advertising is on it, and hunters have
taken many a potshot at it. There is a beautiful outlook over Aspen, so that you may contemplate the wonders of Nature while standing under the grotesquesness of humankind.
Just before the billboard, there is a small section of trail to the left, going downhill. Near the top of this section, to the right, is a large rock jutting out from the ground. (And perfect for sitting on and stamping in.) Find the Eureka Letterbox hidden behind a cluster of stones underneath the rock's overhang.