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Rockdale Trailhead
Added by BillMiddlebrook

Location:  Sawatch Range
14ers Served:  Missouri Mountain, Huron Peak
Road Type:  Moderate 4WD, long wheel base vehicles not recommended. Good clearance required. 4   (0=Paved, 6=Very Difficult 4WD)
2WD dirt access to the Rockdale turn-off. Narrow, Rough 4WD to 11,040' below Cloyses Lake. In spring and early summer, the river crossings after Rockdale can be very difficult and dangerous. Short wheelbase and high clearance required.
Directions:  From Leadville: Drive 20 miles south on U.S. 24 and turn right on the Chaffee County 390 road. From Buena Vista: Drive 14.5 miles north on U.S. 24 and turn left on the Chaffee County 390 road.

On the 390 road, drive about 9.6 miles and turn left into Rockdale (an old abandoned town). Drive down past 4 old cabins and then left near a 5th. If you don't have a high-clearance, short, 4WD vehicle, park in this area. Even with the right 4WD vehicle, driving through the upcoming water is not recommended until after July, when the water levels are lower. It's a 3 mile walk to the end of the road, near Clohesy Lake.

Follow the road through shallow water to Clear Creek. You must now cross two streams. First, cross Clear Creek to gain higher ground between the two streams. Then, cross the Lake Fork stream. Taken in September, 2007, here is a video of the stream crossings.

After the water, continue 2.6 miles to a large parking area at 10,880'. Most 4WDers park here, but it's possible to continue another 0.3 miles to a gate, near 11,040' (3 miles from Rockdale).
Winter Access:  Closed near 9,200 feet - many miles below the TH.
14er Trailheads on Google Maps
Date Status Information Posted By  Photos  Comments Likes Dislikes    
2014-10-18 Road was clear of snow to gate and beyond. Stream crossing was not an issue. Definitely a high clearance road. RockCaCO3         
2014-09-21 Just to keep info up to date: no big problems getting to the Rockdale Trailhead. There is a mucklike, sunken stretch (maybe 20-30 feet long) fairly close to the end of the road. Mostly trucks & high clearance vehicles were at the trailhead -but I was following behind a Subaru WRX there. Eagle Eye         
2014-09-06 Quick video of stream crossing from early Sept. 2014 SikYou         
2014-07-27 Successfully completed all the creek crossings and made it to the end of the 4WD road in a stock Ford F-150. I think a Subaru Outback-type vehicle would have trouble, but any stock, large-version pickup should be fine. We saw several vehicles parked near the four cabins (i.e. the beginning of the 4WD section) that would have done fine all the way to Clohesy lake. There‘s a good turn around point about 1/4 mile up the road (but AFTER the creek crossings) that would be a good "bail out point" if you decide and want to turn around. moorecolorado         
2014-07-20 4x4 Road up to the lake is passable; water at the crossings is low enough for a stock truck or SUV to cross. Still a few remaining mud puddles along the trail: they aren‘t super deep but it would be possible to get stuck in them, so keep your momentum while crossing. autumncharis         
2014-07-19 two stream crossings were crossable by SUVs and trucks. Water probably about knee high. Several difficult parts on the 4WD drive after that. Worst part is immediately after the stream crossing. However, most of the 4WD road is ok, but must go very slow for the entire route. Trotter         
2013-12-22 390 is plowed a couple miles in from the highway. Several inches soft snow with tracks for at least another mile, where we became stuck and spent a couple hours excavating and threw on borrowed to get out. The tire tracks continued. Hefty vehicle and chains recommended. Monster5    1      
2013-09-19 The creek crossing was no problem with a stock Xterra. Plenty of mud puddles along the way to the gate. There is one really big puddle just before the gate that is probably two feet deep and 50 feet +/- across. First creek crossing Pic 1. Second creek crossing Pic 2. Closer look at exit on second creek crossing. piper14er  3       
2013-07-22 I took my 3/4 ton full size quad cab truck all the way up to the gate and beyond (the red gate was open and people were driving to the lake to fish and camp, even though a big steel sign says "no motor vehicles beyond this point"). The stream crossings were both shallow. Only 8-10" at the deepest sections. I‘m sure my Subaru outback 2013 would have made it across the deep sections of the streams, and all the way to the gate. link image Dezelrig         
2013-06-29 I was in the area and curious, so I drove over to Rockdale to see the creek crossings this afternoon. The first is ready to go if you have at least truck clearance. I drove through the deep water (on the right as you go toward Cloyses Lake) on purpose. The water was about three inches below the floorboard of my FJ. If anyone‘s interested, I got out midstream and took some pictures. It‘s trivial right now, especially if you stay left. The second crossing is narrower, but has about the same water depth. Matt         
2013-01-01 Open to a 4WD. Trench in to Cloyses Lake. sgladbach         
2012-11-17 The first creek crossing was completely iced over. I would guess 4-6" in the middle and pretty thin on the east side with moving water. The second crossing is hard to tell, looks thick on the edges and a big hole in the middle with moving water. I doubt many stock 4x4 could make it up the road. B-Dog  3       
2012-11-05 The stream at the Rockdale cabin site is still low. Both crossings were easy. In the morning there was a thin layer of ice and in the afternoon the stream was clear. I was able to get my Suburban up the road. I parked about 1 mile below the upper trailhead. There were intermittant areas of snow/ice in shaded areas of the road. Had little problem with the road. From where I parked toward the upper trailhead is extremely rocky and appears to be a stream bed during snowmelt and rain. If we get any snow accumulation the road will be difficult to navigate most 4x4s. There is not much room for error on the road in many places. Kudos to the people that cleared the downed trees that were across the road. You can see cuttings were recent. hangdog         
2012-11-03 As of 11-3-12 morning, someone had done a prelim rough chopping of both tree obstructions, and the road was narrowly passable through those two spots, and free all the way to the gate by the lake. When I came back down 11-3-12 afternoon, someone else had come and had completely cleared, sawed, and removed all of the debris completely. Thanks for whoever did that. Route remains fine for 4 WD. I few spots of snow and ice, but really, nothing significant. The creek crossings are a bit higher than they have been, but, again, no real problem. semitrueskerm    2      
2012-10-20 Here is a picture of the 2nd tree across the road. globreal  1  1      
2012-10-20 The 4WD road from Rockdale to Clohsey Lake is blocked by downed trees about 3/4 mile up from Clear Creek. There are 3 trees across the road. Bring a chainsaw! Very little snow on the road but some ice in spots. If the trees were removed you can still drive all the way to the gate. globreal    2      
2012-08-11 Made it all the way to the gate in a 2004 Nissan Titan. We lost traction twice, only to back down a little and try it from a different angle. Stream crossings only 1‘ deep. Plenty of water holes near the top, especially after lots of rain. These weren‘t a problem for us either direction. hvbrogan         
2012-07-15 When you turn left at Rockdale look for the 3‘ tall brown plastic forest road marker with 381 on it. When you turn onto road just stay to the right and you will end up at the river crossing. Water was about 1‘ deep. I did this in a F250SD. Not the ideal rig for this but I made it all the way to the gate. This is a very bumpy road. If you have a long bed pick up expect a slow ride. I never hit bottom but I did hit the trees with my mirrors. Some water holes towards end but not deep and passable. Thorneville         
2012-06-20 Got up to the gate today in a Ford Escape. Scraped the running boards a couple times. Going up it looks real nasty right after the second stream crossing, but that‘s actually about as bad as the road gets. Limited parking (2-3 cars max) and turnaround areas near gate. TravelingMatt         
2012-06-16 Both creek crossings were doable in my stock Ranger. The 4x4 road up to the upper parking area had a couple of spots to be mindful on but was mostly just a bumpy ride up. thatguy         
2012-06-06 At 2 o‘clock in the afternoon I was coming down from West Winfield trailhead for La Plata and decided to cross the river in my stock Xterra. Both parts of the stream was passable, but I did not proceed up the road any further. Soccer4Life  1       
2012-04-07 390 Road open and dry to the Rockdale turn-off, not sure how the 4WD road is from Rockdale. BillMiddlebrook         
2011-12-17 4WD can reach the turnoff for Rockdale. Doesn‘t look like anyone has driven down past the buildings, though. tmathews         
2011-07-30 Update 7/30: river is passable with a stock Jeep Cherokee sport. There are two long mud puddles near TH, both are passable. chrispy         
2011-07-08 I thought this link might be useful since it shows the cubic feet per second of the creek, albeit a few miles below the Rockdale crossing. Also shows historical average and the importance of time of day if crossing during the spring and early summer. Carl         

On the rough Rockdale road after leaving the main road (Added by: BillMiddlebrook on 2006-06-21)Down the hill past the buildings, this is the start of the river crossing (Added by: BillMiddlebrook on 2006-06-21)Large section of Clear Creek (on the way up). Shallowest section is to the left. (Added by: aubrey on 2006-07-24)A stock Land Cruiser on the shorter crossing (8/12/07) (Added by: bdavis on 2007-08-18)Careful where you‘s deep in spots (just to the right of the exi (Added by: bdavis on 2007-08-18)The longer stream crossing (on the return home) (Added by: bdavis on 2007-08-18)1st crossing all ice on 11/22/08 (Added by: JMB on 2008-12-10)large water crossing 8/1/09, stay left of island on way up to TH (Added by: mtnklutz on 2009-08-01)8/1/09 (Added by: mtnklutz on 2009-08-01)First River Crossing (Added by: sad2 on 2010-10-10)2nd River Crossing (Added by: sad2 on 2010-10-10)

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