People have been flocking to Colorado since the 1800s. And while some may think green chili and legal weed are what put the state on the map, we actually have gold to thank for getting us rocky mountain high. But even some of the most thriving mining towns from the glory days were faced with abandonment. Whether it was from railroad route changes or rural depopulation, Colorado is now home to over 1,500 ghost towns. FIFTEEN-HUNDRED, y'all. And lucky enough for us, Vindicator Valley Trail puts us right in the action of Colorado's mining history.
Vindicator Valley Trail
This easy and paved 2-mile interpretive trail starts at the 19th-century rusted remains of the Theresa Gold Mine. Having produced upwards of 120,000 ounces of gold, it shut down in 1961.
From there, keep following the trail.
Along the walk, you'll find brick explosive sheds, an outhouse, rusted skeletal remains of various machinery equipment, and the wooden Anna J. Mine. Just stay on the trail, you guys. The surrounding ground is pretty unstable due to a network of underground tunnels.
You'll also find two creepy houses that practically beg for a group of teenagers to perform seances in.
The windows and doors of this house are covered in wire, so going inside was interpreted by us as frowned upon. However, if you're determined to explore inside, it wouldn't take much effort due to the wire on the front door being pushed aside (probably because of seance-obsessed teenagers). But, uh, we're totally not condoning this. Either way, you can get a good shot of the living room by standing outside the window on the front porch.
Also, it's f*cking creepy.
Keep an eye out around the property — you may find some throwbacks like this Coors can from the 1980s.
The other house in the area has its doors and windows right open. Naturally, we went inside.
The foundation seems pretty sturdy, but always pay attention to what your grounding is like. Watch your head and take note that there are rusty nails sticking out in a lot of areas. Also keep an eye out for the little "history lessons" scribbled on the walls.
Keep moving down the trail and you'll pass another house before heading back to the parking lot. You'll have great views of the Sangre de Cristo mountains and rolling Colorado hills as you make your way down the path.
know before you go
The easiest way to get to the trail head is to go to Victor. From there, take County Road 81 towards Goldfield. Right after Goldfield, you'll see a parking area on the left-hand side for Vindicator Valley Trail. It's free to enter, and if you're lucky like we were, you'll have the whole place to yourself. The path is gravel and is guided by a fence and informative signs in most parts, so getting lost really isn't an option here. Cell service can be spotty (probably because of ghosts) and there's a little bit of an uphill climb at the beginning, but other than that, it's a comfortable and simple hike.