Old Spanish Trail North Branch

Old Spanish Trail North Branch: Colorado Historical Marker

From about 1830 to 1848, the Old Spanish Trail was used to bring textiles from Santa Fe to Los Angeles, which were then traded for mules and horses for the New Mexico and Missouri markets. The trail is considered to be one of the most difficult trails in the United States.

Originally part of ancient, Native American Indian trade routes (one part of which was in use for nearly 1,000 years), the trade routes were connected later by Spanish, Mexican and American traders.

The trail was divided into two routes: the North Branch went north into the San Luis Valley in Colorado, which then went west over Cochetopa Pass, following the Gunnison and Colorado Rivers. It eventually connected with the South Branch near the Green River. The South or Main Branch went northwest to Green River, Utah, passing the Colorado San Juan mountains.

There have been many efforts over the years to preserve the Old Spanish Trail and make it part of the National Historic Trails system.

Historical Marker Inscription

This sign marks an important junction of the Old Spanish Trail. Both forks, east and west, of the North Branch of this Trail converged at Saguache before continuing west of Cochetopa Pass and on to Los Angeles.

The Old Spanish Trail was the principle mule pack route for explorers and traders until 1848, evolving into a wagon road and currently a modern highway.

The purpose of this sign is twofold: first, to note the 4th Annual Conference of the Old Spanish Trail National Association that convened at Saguache, Colorado on June 21-22, 1997; and second, to celebrate the vital contribution of the early trails, before which, all life was limitation.


Located in Saguache, Colorado, at the intersection of 8th Street (Highway 285) and Christy Avenue in a park.

38° 5.132′ N, 106° 8.527′ W.


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