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Castle Creek Trailhead

Posted By: drchele
Info: The road is still open all the way to 12,800. Some snow and ice patches in the trees. I drove my FJ Cruiser (not lifted) and in the dark, it was easy to bump/scrape bottom in two areas. If you get to Pearl Pass, there really aren’t any worse hazards above that. A month ago, I took my lifted Subaru Outback and parked at camping spot 9. Just past 9 and up to the right, there is a deep diagonal rocky rut (before the creek crossing) that looks like it eats passenger car undercarriages for lunch. No problem in the FJ, but I didn’t brave it in my Subie.
Posted By: Eagle Eye
Info: The FR102 Castle Creek Road is in good shape. The creek crossing is mellow and has a low flow & relatively smooth rock "floor" through it. All 9 numbered campsites were occupied. It hailed during my trip & so it added a little hail accumulation slickness to the upper parts of the road -and just wet otherwise lower down. Several people had driven and parked along the road, but none were much farther than the Pearl Pass fork. No one had driven to the end of the road.
Posted By: Jerousek
Info: Made it to 11,100’ in a stock Forester Wilderness. There were 3 or 4 obstacles where I got out to double check the line before committing. No scrapes; very doable, but engaging driving at times.
Posted By: V1per41
Info: Parked and camped at campsite #6 with a 2" lifted Subaru Crosstrek. Road had a decent rut in it just after that (see pic 3). I probably could have made it on second look, but the car is new-ish and I’m still learning what’s it’s capable of.

After the 9 official campsites, there were a couple more unofficial looking ones that have gotten fairly heavy use. The road from 11k to 12k didn’t look much more difficult that the road just to get to 11k. If you made it to 11k with ease, then 12k is reasonable. We saw no vehicles that attempted the top trailhead today.

Pictures are from the worst obstacles on the road up to 11k.
Posted By: ochres
Info: Parked just below Pearl Pass Junction in a stock 4Runner with AT tires (~11,130 ft). A couple spots for vehicles to park. Pretty mellow drive with a few rutted out sections/rocks to navigate with minimal scraping/bumping running boards. No crazy shelf roads before the junction and the switchbacks past it seemed to be decently wide with a few opportunities to pull over if needed. I think I could’ve made it all the way up to the very end of the road but wanted to get a decent amount of elevation gain in. A few full size pickups, a new Bronco, and Jeep parked at the end of the road.
Posted By: mdfreiberg
Info: Trail/road was in good condition (considering) and stream crossings were no issue for my rental Jeep Rubicon. The deeper ruts are easily passed with reasonable alignment. That Jeep made it up to 12K and after walking the rest of the road I know I could’ve made it to 12,800. Two nice campsites above the Pearl Pass Junction (both within .5-1 mile on the right) and I highly recommend them if your vehicle can climb it’s way up.
Posted By: pbarn
Info: Road is now clear of snow all the way up, and passable to anyone with the right vehicle and skills.
Posted By: cgolkie
Info: Campsite 1 is semi-easy to get to (with skilled driving) with most vehicles but the road is rocky and rough. I took my Subie Crosstrek up to Campsite 7 and parked it there. There is a very large rut just after that. You could make it over with the right wheel placement in a Subaru or similar vehicle, but I didn’t want to risk it. It’s a 4 minute walk to the creek if you park below it. The creek seemed manageable as well, but there is another rut just after the creek. At 11k and above it was Wranglers, Tacomas, and lifted 4X4. There was one Jeep at the very top of the trailhead.
Posted By: Dagmar
Info: Snow patches start at 11890 ft. Large snow patch covering entire road at 12230. Road is rough in few places but drivable with 4x4. A lot of water in streem crossing. Saw couple of Jeeps and one Toyota truck made make it trough both driving to about 11000 ft. Saw a subby making it all the way to camp site 9.
Posted By: Istoodupthere
Info: Snow drift blocking road at about 12,000 feet. Larger drifts further up. It might be August until you can drive to upper trailhead
Posted By: happyallyy
Info: The road is friendly for 2WD vehicles up to campsites 1-3. No issues driving up there in my Mercedes Sprinter van. Beyond that, any 4WD vehicle with decent clearance can make it to 11k. The river crossing is high right now, but we were able to handle it in a stock 4Runner with all terrain tires. The road is snow free til 11.7k and we saw a lifted Toyota Tundra up there (along with a few other very offroading capable vehicles). Beyond 11.7k, there is still a decent amount of snow holding on the road.
Posted By: Briere
Info: I parked lower but saw several vehicles past 11,000ft and one at 11,600ft. Seems like the highest since there is a giant snowfield soon after that.
Posted By: andlours
Info: The drive up to the first few campsites could be done in a 2WD (with skilled driving), but I would recommend something with a decent amount of ground clearance passed site 4. There is one large rut after campsite 7 where I needed to use 4WD and another few rocky places where it was nice. The creek crossing was very manageable and any 4WD truck/SUV will be fine (see photos). No major obstacles passed the creek until 10700 where the road becomes impassable due to multiple, large snow drifts.
Posted By: BillMiddlebrook
Info: test
Posted By: jfm3
Info: The snow starts at ~10,500 feet and is mostly continuous from there. There isn’t anywhere to park above the creek crossing because of the snow, and I didn’t see any vehicles above the creek. Every campsite below the creek crossing had at least one vehicle in it, and several were parked on the side of the road. The snow is still several feet deep, so it will be well into June until the road can be driven to the Pearl Pass junction.
Posted By: taymayday
Info: 4WD road open and passable until the creek. The road past the creek is still covered by a few feet of snow. It’s impassible by vehicle, probably for the next few weeks. We saw plenty of backcountry skiers going up and we used snowshoes. Flotation is a must! Campsites are all open but still very muddy. There were a few people camping.
Posted By: Jimmy Jay
Info: High clearance 4WD can make it to 10,600. Snowmobiles can make it up to the upper TH but nothing else. Lots of elk hunters at the lower campsites, wear high-visibility clothing so you don’t become a statistic.
Posted By: AidanDenniston
Info: October 8th

Drove out to hit castle conundrum and 13er malamute, conditions were fantastic minus the road. From the junction at pearl pass road on to the creek crossing the conditions are horrid. I struggled making it very far at all with my Outback. I saw a few jeeps, and tacos up at the upper TH but unless you are a very experienced off road driver it will be very difficult. Sharp rocks everywhere and extremely ate out. Ended up making it to 10,400 to set up camp (barely). As many know the approach is awful for this mountain, it will only get worse over the years. If you do make it passed the creek you should be in the clear until the upper TH though.
Happy hiking!
Posted By: Jack_H
Info: Definitely rougher and more difficult than South Colony Lakes and Lake Como Road up until 8,800 ft for reference. I made it to 12,400ft in a mostly stock 2007 Silverado 1500 with a leveling kit and BFGs. Much more fun on the way up than on the way down as I needed a spotter for about half of the way down and took longer than hikers to get down. I got some minor scrapes on my running boards 3 times (once on the way up and twice on the way down) but it could have been avoided if I had been paying more attention. Also got a few new small pinstripes likely. Probably could have made it all the way but it wasn’t worth it as the road starts to get pretty sloped to the side for the last little bit. Definitely would not recommend taking anything longer than my truck up. Some of the switchbacks on the way down made for a fun time. Link to video of river crossing: https://photos.app.goo.gl/HnRyzMC77Tk4bkH27
Posted By: colingoodman
Info: As other comments have stated, the road is rough but very doable in a capable 4x4 vehicle (wrangler, truck, etc). I made it to the pearl pass rd junction without issue in my 4runner (stock with AT tires) but found I probably could have gone much further. The road does eventually become fairly exposed.
Posted By: GuiGirard
Info: Road is rough with deep potholes from the very beginning right off the paved county road. Access to campsites 1 to 3 is Subaru-able with no issue. Further up it gets much rougher in a big avalanche area with loose big and sharp rocks and I chickened it out quickly with my Outback. As a hiker, there is however no noticeable increase in difficulty past the creek crossing at ~10,500 ft. In fact, I saw a Crosstrek way past 11,000 ft, + a Jeep Wrangler and 4Runners. Good to know also is that there are many dispersed campsites past the creek crossing (camping being restricted to the 9 designated sites only applies to the section below the creek). So, basically, if one can make it past campsite 3, they are good to go for a good while.
Posted By: csf-lhiver
Info: 3rd gen stock Tacoma made it to Montezuma Mine. The reward portion in the risk/reward factor for driving the rest of the 0.5 miles to the end of the road didn’t exist for me. You have to be confident off road and you have no margin for error. Though it’s capable for at least a Tacoma and a Jeep Rubicon to get all the way there based on what I saw.
Posted By: mtgoatmike
Info: Road is clear to the dead end at 12,500ft. My stock 2012 Tacoma made it to the switchback just after the small wooden bridge you drive over, a few other Tacomas were higher up. Smaller SUV type vehicles made it to the dispersed campsites lower down. The creek crossing has a good sized lip down and out of the creek.
Posted By: TheSpaceForce
Info: Clear of snow all the way to the upper trailhead. Typical spring/summer runoff through the road in places, but no worse than the creek crossing near the lower 4WD TH.
Posted By: Crestoner
Info: If you can cross Castle Creek, you’ll be able to make it to the small parking area at the Pearl Pass Road intersection ~11,100 ft. Late in the afternoon, the creek is fast and turbid at the crossing...difficult to assess depth and any underwater obstacles. At 0400, flow is diminished, and water is relatively clear. We saw 2 Forerunners, 1 Tacoma, and 1 "rockcrawler" that had no problems crossing the creek. There still are several patches of snow in the road, past the creek, but these are no problem...especially after that big-tired rockcrawler blew through them.

The skeeters are out in the campsites...

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