Our weekend began with warm sunny weather and good music. After fueling up in Silverton and taking in the atmosphere of the town we headed out to begin our back country adventure in a 2003 Toyota Tacoma.
We took CR 2 to Howardsville then turned right and headed up Cunningham Gulch. This road runs alongside a creek
before gaining altitude and passing the Old Hundred Mine. After almost 2 miles we turned onto Stony Pass Trail. The thick pine forest gave way to wide open meadows covered in wild flowers surrounded by jagged peaks. Amazing views of the San Juans abound in this area and they never seem to get old.
Stony Pass crosses the continental divide and is one of the longest uninterrupted climbs in the state. Though not technical, the trail has an interesting variety of terrain including steep narrow rocky sections, stream crossings and muddy areas. A side trip we decided to take (well worth it) was a trail up to Buffalo Boy Tram House. This
road continues past Buffalo Boy all the way to the summit of the mountain at above 13,000 feet. Finally reaching the top we were treated to a 360 degree panorama of breathtaking peaks! One cool thing we noticed was there were headstones up there as well, some dated back to 1934.
After returning to the main trail we made our way to the top of stony pass where we pulled over to admire at least 300
head of sheep grazing nearby. Come to find out the shepherds looking after them are from South America and are hired to live in the mountains with the sheep for the summer. Quite a sight! We continued on our way down the other side of the pass in hopes of finding the perfect spot to settle in for the night. Exploring the Colorado Back-country and sleeping under the stars is amazing, but getting to enjoy it with the convenience and comfort of our ARB Rooftop Tent makes us feel downright spoiled. Set up was a breeze and thanks to the added Annex we were able to enjoy a bug free evening.
Novice or pro, bone stock 4WD or highly modified rig, stony pass is a must for anyone with an adventurous spirit and a need to get off the beaten path. by Chelsea Baker
PROJECT UPDATE: We converted Chelsea’s 2003 2WD Toyota Tacoma Prerunner to a 4WD. We swapped out the automatic 2wd transmission for a 4wd one and added a stock used transfer case. We then installed a used front differential; drive axles, knuckles with automatic hubs and a front driveline. Of course, we had to change out the console to accommodate the t-case shifter. We also wired up the front diff lockout to a switch on the dash.
To give us a bit more ground clearance and off-road look, we mounted LT255/85R16 Maxxis Big Horn tires on American Racing Rims.
We lifted the suspension 3” by adding All-Pro Off Road leaf packs with Doetsch shocks to the rear and Bilstein coilovers with Light Racing control arms to the front.
For drive train protection we installed a Budbuilt skid plate w/ belly skid. To keep the rear bed corners from damage, we added a Trail Gear rear bumper, Trail Gear sliders and a Low Range bed bar. Then to finish up this phase of the project we installed Smoke-Out taillights, a Pioneer CD player and a Cobra CB Radio. However, we are not finished yet. There are more modifications to come; such as a front bumper and cooler rims.