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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.
14er Trailheads on Google Maps
Date Status Information Posted By  Photos  Comments Likes Dislikes    
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         
2014-05-31 Avy debris cleared. Snow starts soon after the first stream crossing bergsteigen         
2014-05-17 Road blocked about 1/4 mile from pavement by several avalanches. Debris field on upper avalanche is quite large. The mayor of Pearl pass is working on clearing. I imagine with the snow and debris it won‘t clear further for a minimum 2-3 weeks. The road is completely snow covered and skinnable from the creek crossing. There is a lot of coverage so I would expect it to be that way for awhile. Hypersnow         
2014-05-11 Road is open from Ashcroft to FR 102. About 1/2-3/4 mile in, the road is blocked by avalanche debris. There are a few places where trees cover the road (or a majority of the road). See photos. It is passable on foot and by snow machine. --bb--  3       
2013-09-29 Was able to drive my Wrangler Sport Jeep all the way to the flat, open area below the Montezuma mine (12,400 feet) with no problems. The road to the upper 4WD TH blocked by snow about 1/4 mile past the mine. AlabamaTLC         
2013-08-27 road is passable with 2WD up to campsite 2. Just beyond that is a hill with some rocks and ruts that is troublesome with 2WD and very hard to turn around there. 4WD stock vehicles (pickups/SUVs) with some clearance should be able to drive all the way to the end of the road, it‘s pretty decent with no big obstacles. Stream crossing was about 8 inches deep or so. cougar  2       
2013-07-19 The road past the 2WD trail head is not that bad as long as you have an SUV/truck with decent clearance. There are some rocky sections, but did not prove too difficult. Crossing castle creek was a cake walk, even in the afternoon with higher levels due to snow melt. It was maybe 6 inches deep. There was a Toyota Highlander we saw further up the trail, so any vehicle with comparable clearance can make it. We ended up staying the night at the Pearl Pass junction, at 11,200, allowing us to get a great head start on the trail up to Castle. emiller6  3       
2013-07-05 Road is driveable all the way to the upper parking lot. I‘m not sure anything much wider than a stock Jeep can maneuver around some of the rocks on the upper route (last 1000‘ vertical) without moving them or sustaining some damage but the route is dry. halestorm         
2013-06-25 The road is clear up to the Montezuma Mine. There is still some snow between the mine and the parking lot. John Young         
2013-06-24 The road is clear up until 12,100, where a large, impassable patch of snow is present. A pickup truck and a Rubicon passed the creek crossing at 10,200‘ with no problems. To play it safe, I parked my Forester in the last pulloff before the crossing. The avalanche runoff that was present about .5-1 mile after the crossing has been shoveled out and that portion of the road is now completely dry. As always, please PM if I can be of further assistance. Pics to come. zdero1         
2013-06-15 Very similar to the previous reports. Road is clear all the way to some Avy Runout in between the cabin and the second bridge at the waterfall. Not getting past it for sometime. Jeeps, Trucks and 4WD SUVs should be fine up until that. River crossing does get high late in the day. Just depends on the vehicle and the driver. RAV4 and CRV crowd might want to park low. All the campsites are clear as well. Park Ranger also said some pesky bears have been seen in the area. Don‘t leave any Cheetos in your Ride. Taillon75         
2013-06-08 High Clearance vehicles can get by the creek crossing in the morning - but the question remains can you get out in the afternoon. I didn‘t push my luck with my stock Jeep 4d Wrangler, but one raised Tacoma made it across. The road, as noted previously, has much more damage than last year. If you get past the creek crossing, the meadow about 1/4 mile past is as far as you‘ll get - avalance run-outs and other persistent snow blocks the road past that. No access to Pearl Pass Road now. wildlobo71    3 1    
2013-06-04 Road is pretty much dry to the stream crossing but seems very beat up compared to the last few years. A lot of erosion and early season mud driving has made some of the obstacles a bit bigger. I did see a newer model Subaru Outback near the stream crossing so it is possible to get similar clearance cars there but you better be good at driving if you are going to try to take anything lower to the ground. Passenger cars could probably still access the first few campsites (but once again probably not quite as easily as previous years). Water is raging in the stream so most vehicles (even pretty big SUVs and trucks) were parked there. halestorm         
2013-05-19 In a high clearance 4WD I was able to drive to the creek crossing where the bridge is now. The road is very muddy and has some sections of snow. A large fallen Aspen tree that blocked the road in the morning was cut in sections and removed sometime during the day. Eagle Eye         
2013-05-13 The Pitkin County gate closure on the paved road is open. In high clearance 4WD I was only able to go about .5 mile up FR102 , this is about .7 mile short of the wooden bridge & first creek crossing. 2 uphill sections with ruts in deep snow in that first 1/2 mile have presented problems. Fairly recent wide tractor/paddle-looking (or chained?) type tracks continue on, going maybe 2/10th mile past the first creek crossing, turned around. Eagle Eye         

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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