Castle Creek Trailhead
Added by BillMiddlebrook

Location:  Elk Mountains
14ers Served:  Castle Peak, Conundrum Peak
Road Type:  Moderate 4WD, long wheel base vehicles not recommended. Good clearance required. 4   (0=Paved, 6=Very Difficult 4WD)
2WD paved access to 9,750’ from the north via Castle Creek road out of Aspen.
Rough, Rocky 2WD access to approx. 9,900’ by turning right on the dirt road at the end of Castle Creek road. This road continues into Castle Creek.
4WD access to 12,800’ by following the same road up past the Montezuma Mine and into a basin north of Castle Peak. Note: Near 11,100’ there is a road junction. Stay right to continue toward Montezuma Mine. Turning left will take you toward Pearl Pass.
Directions:  Take Castle Creek from the roundabout just west of the center of Aspen. Drive 12.5 miles (paved) to the Castle Creek trailhead. To the right, Forest Road (FR) 102 continues all all the way to 12,800’. Good-clearance passenger cars can drive about 1 mile up this road to reach the dispersed camp sites along the road. If you want to shorten your hike by parking higher, you must have a 4WD vehicle with good clearance. From the lower trailhead parking area, proceed 1.3 miles to a river crossing. In spring and early summer, this crossing is a challenge for some 4WD vehicles. Continue another 1.7 miles up FR 102 to a junction. Left will take you up the nasty Pearl Pass 4WD road. Staying right will keep you on the Castle Creek 102 road. If you drove up this far, there are a few parking spots near the junction. The road gets worse as it ascends into Montezuma Basin all the way to 12,800’.
Winter Access:  Closed at the start of the dirt road.
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Date Status Information Posted By  Photos  Comments Likes Dislikes    
2015-09-24 made it to just below the Pearl Pass Rd junction near 11,100 in a Subaru Outback. Creek crossing presented slight challenge and is worth scouting before comitting. ~30 minutes driving time to cover that distance. Chevy Tahoe and Jeep Renegade made it to the mine at some point after us. Full TR to follow. hokiehead         
2015-08-08 The 4wd road is in good shape, but still typical mountain 4wd, rocks and potholes, tight switchbacks. But no obstacles other than the creek crossing. Even after the Pearl Pass split at 11,200. Above the road was in pretty good shape several SUVs on the road and at 12,800 which has plenty of parking. Recommend good tires, but any SUV/Truck could make it up to the 12,800 mark. There are a few boulders you have to drive around, but nothing too crazy. There are several dispersed camping spots after the creek crossing and before the road split. After the split there are 2/3 spots to camp and several more pullouts in case you start up and decided 12,800 is not for you. JQDivide    1    
2015-07-26 Made it to just below the Montezuma Basin junction in a Forester. As per previous report, the creek is no longer very high, and wasn‘t a problem. We stopped at a bend just before a particularly rough spot; in my opinion this one spot was probably worse than anything that one encounters until well above treeline. We didn‘t see anyone at the very end of the road, but saw a number of higher-clearance vehicles at various points along the Montezuma Road. AlexeyD         
2015-07-17 Creek running fairly low (even mid-day) and quite easily made it to the Pearl Pass Junction in a full size Ford F-150 (long wheel base). Saw a Jeep Cherokee and Pathfinder parked at 12,800 feet. mtgirl    1      
2015-07-12 Plenty of water in the creek, but crossing was no problem. Felt great about making it to the Pearl Pass junction in a relatively stock Jeep until I had to park next to a Subaru Outback. Saw a Honda CRV even higher up. Kudos to anybody who can get a crossover up there. A couple of rocky sections in the road have the potential to cause some damage. Greenhouseguy  1  1 1    
2015-07-12 No guts no glory. Creek was a breeze. I made it to just below the Montezuma mine pull-off (12,150) with my full size Ram. I saw a small pickup truck made it all the way to the parking area below the head wall. jrs1965         
2015-07-11 Truck-based SUV‘s and pickups will be able to drive through the water at the creek crossing without an issue. Car-based SUV‘s may have more difficulty. However, getting over the rocks on the far side is the problem (see images). One in particular (in the middle of the exit) will catch the underside of most vehicles. There is a foot bridge. Three spots before the switchbacks near Pearl Pass Road have gotten very chewed out and are tricky. Once you get above the junction, the road is relatively good except for three spots where large boulders have landed on the road. Thy look mostly avoidable, but you‘ll need to get close to the outside of the road to get around them. zsmith  3  2 1    
2015-07-05 Reiterating recent reports, creek is in and need 4x4 to get through safely. With that said, plenty of stock 4x4 vehicles made it through that had more of a SUV average clearance height. Stopped one switchback below Pearl Pass Rd junction, road was pretty rough in a couple spots on the final way up so we didn‘t risk it. MrJohnnySpot         
2015-06-27 Somewhat of a Prick         
2015-06-20 Made it up to and beyond the creek crossing in my ¾ ton pickup with the off-roading package. Parked just before the Pearl Pass junction. A lot of water is running but the crossing is very manageable if done right. Dan_Suitor         
2015-06-19 Stream crossing not a problem for high-clearance 4WD. The road is clear for as high as a climber would want to drive. We parked one switchback below the intersection with the Pearl Pass Road. A vintage Toyota Land Cruiser was parked at the pullout across from the Pearl Pass Road. Crestoner         
2015-06-13 Road is passable to suitable high clearance 4WD to 0.9mile past the stream crossing. Stream was running high and fast, and most vehicles parked at the crossing. bergsteigen         
2015-05-07 4wd road is dry to the river crossing. Once across flotation will be needed the rest of the way. Lots of avalanche activity in the valley, all wet slap. I turned around at 12,000 ft when I felt the snow below me shifting. noinu09         
2015-05-02 Ashcroft gate is open. Some snow on and off until creek crossing then continuous snow. We were not able to drive a 4x4 more than a couple hundreds from the lower TH. jmanner         
2015-04-23 Closed at Ashcroft. Road was completely dry for 1st mile. benglish         
2015-01-06 Road from the the roundabout to Ashcroft is covered in a mix of ice, slush and packed snow. Kind of treacherous, but not difficult if you take it slow. From the gate closure to the Pine Creek Cookhouse is groomed and walkable in boots. From there to the Pearl Pass turnoff, there is a nice packed snowmobile trail. Softer than the groomed trail, so snowshoes were helpful. Dad Mike  1       
2014-09-24 Fall in full swing all along Castle Creek Road. Amazing Aspen colors all the way up the drive. 4Runner had no issues with Pearl Pass road to the junction. I stopped there to get 3k elevation, but could have made it to the top with no issues if I wanted. No snow on the road. No significant water, either. Blue6String         
2014-09-12 Made it all the way to the top in my stock Jeep Cherokee without any problems. Entry and exit at the first creek crossing would prpobably give low clearance vehicles trouble. Roald         
2014-09-06 Thanks to Istari for the update on getting the Subaru up the trail. I got a CR-V up to what I assume is the same spot: a pull-out down the hill from the junction. There is a bad spot there with loose small rocks and a few big rocks that were to scary for the clearance I had --too bad because it got better after that spot and probably could have made it up to Montezuma Basin. Beautiful day and hiking on the road is not the worst, so it was all good. theotherscott         
2014-08-18 Totally clear of snow to Montezuma Basin. The creek crossing had about 6" or less of water in it. If you‘re asking me, I think any stock 4x4 could make it all the way with some guts. But there are plenty of turn outs and the road is pretty wide for Colorado standards. addrock528         
2014-08-09 There haven’t been any posts about the condition of the road lately. Here is what we found on our trip up with a Subaru Forester a week ago: The features of the road The road has two stream crossings. The lower one is the crux of the road and comes up quick. The second crossing is over a wooden bridge at around 10,900 ft. The road is clear of snow and debris all the way to the end. Driving the road We drove the Forester up to the first turn past the second stream crossing, or about a 1/4 mile away from the Pearl Pass road junction. When we got to the first stream crossing a kind gentleman had filled in the holes around the big rocks on the stream’s exit ramp. To cross the stream with a high clearance vehicle (8.7 inches or above) go as close to the left side of the stream’s shore and slowly lower your vehicle into the stream. Since the road turns in the stream, aim towards the apex of the turn and that will position you at a good place to aim at the left side of the exit “ramp.” Stay close to the left side as you accelerate your vehicle up the ramp and onto the road. The road after that requires some careful driving but is passable. Before you reach the second crossing you will pass a cabin and two camp sites. They are a great place to stay as the last 1/4 mile to the Pearl Pass junction is really rough. We got up to the first switchback after the crossing and decided to stop there. The next section of the road had two pretty hefty rock sections and we were only 5 minutes away from the junction. We camped at the turn in the switchback. Hope this is helpful. Many thanks to the gentleman who built the rock ramp on the stream crossing. The attached image shows us parked at the turn. Istari  1       
2014-06-30 Was able to get my stock Grand Cherokee across the creek with no problem. On the Montezuma Mine road one can get to just above timberline before snow. Grant         
2014-06-29 sorry, clear to Pearl Pass Road Junction, not the pass itself. TheseThousandHills         
2014-06-29 1st creek crossing still raging, but jeeps/Xterras across. Road clear to Pearl Pass. TheseThousandHills         
2014-06-07 Intermittent snow mounds and avalanche debris for a mile after the creek crossing. The creek was swollen with spring runoff. Lots of snow beyond that. it will be a while before the 4WD road fully reopens. esagas         

The 2WD trailhead. (Added by: BillMiddlebrook on 2007-06-12)A closer look at the start of the Castle Creek Road (FR 102) (Added by: BillMiddlebrook on 2007-06-12)The stream crossing at 10,200‘ – 1.3 miles up the road (Added by: BillMiddlebrook on 2007-06-12)stream crossing on 6/6/10.  For reference Bronco has 6" lift and 35s on it. (Added by: summitbound on 2010-06-08)

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