Chinaman Gulch ...

Welcome to one of the older "extreme" Colorado trails. This trail is rated a 4.5 on the 1 to 5 scale, a 9 on the 1 to 10 scale and a double black diamond on yet ANOTHER scale. Suffice it to say this is a serious trail and not for the weak of heart. Unlike a lot of Colorado trails, the difficulty of this trail can change dramatically from year to year. Check with the Forest Service before driving either fork.

What can you expect? Well, that depends on your driving skills, type of vehicle and level of modification and ESPECIALLY on whether you take the left fork or the right fork. Neither fork are for stock vehicles or inexperienced drivers. I managed to hit the driver side rock skid and my rear hitch and I have more than 25 inches of clearance under my skids and bumper. Colorado Sport's modified '98 Sport suffered a mangled gas tank, pretty severe rock burn on his skids, front bumper and rear bumper, a bent rear exhaust pipe and a bashed muffler along with other dings and scrapes. This is with 33x12.5" tires, 5+ inches of lift, front ARB bumper and a custom rear tube bumper.

Left fork: This the easiest and the fork we took. Easy is relative. This is STILL a hard core trail. The "Squeeze" is really a squeeze! Wide vehicles really get it here. Paint scrapes on the rocks attest to that. I had about six inches on each side of the BODY of my Sport going through here. Be VERY careful! One slip and you will take out a door. The "Rock Garden" is exactly what it sounds like. Lots and lots and lots of rocks. Not really big. About beach ball sized mostly but there are some holes and some off-camber spots. This is one of those places on the trail where the tons of ground clearance and the 35x12.5s from the IFS to Live Axle Conversion were realy helpful. Next on the list is the "waterfall". This really is a waterfall when there's water in the gulch. But, for us it was an eight foot high, thirty foot wide, thirty foot deep barrier. There are three lines up this obstacle. The far right is the easiest, the middle harder and the left impossible. There is no way to negotiate the left with a Sport without incurring serious body damage. Even my Sport using a winch. The right is the easiest of paths. Notice I do not say it's the "easy path". It is EASIER then the other two. You can still expect body and undercarriage damage and you still might not make it up without winching. The middle route is the hardest you can do with a Sport and you probably won't make it. Colorado Sport's highly modified '98 wouldn't do it. The automatic transmission just wouldn't pull him up that steep of an incline. My 5-speed '97 Sport made it with a minimum amount of bouncing and bumping but still drug the rear hitch on the rock. A locking differential is virtually a necessity to take this path. The rest of the trail is splotched with off-camber sections and large rocks that create off-camber situations and trees very close in to the trail. There is at least one more "door-eater" squeeze, too. Expect body, chassis and drive train damage. Intelligent driving will minimize or eliminate drive train damage, but chassis (due to low Sport clearance) and body damage are pretty much guaranteed. If you don't like "rock rash", don't go.

Right fork: This fork is impassible to any Mitsubishi not EXTREMELY modified. Consider winch, 33x12.5" tires, locking differential(s), suspension lift, rock skids, heavy custom skid plates and front and rear custom bumpers to be the bare minimum. Expect body, chassis and drive train damage. You WILL damage your vehicle so better resolve yourself to it before you start.

All of the above is based on a dry trail. If this trail is wet then its best to consider it impassible with a Sport unless the vehicle is highly modified.