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Nellie Creek Trailhead

Posted By: kriddle
Info: I was able to make it up to the 4wd trailhead on 11/12 in a slightly modified F150 (2" lift & 33" tires). The road itself wasn’t a problem but there is a significant amount of smooth, slick ice and we needed to put on tire chains to make it. The ice was intermittent above ~10,400 ft. We ascended the night before in the dark so these photos are from the descent the following day. It might be possible to make it with ample use of traction boards and a shovel to cover the ice with dirt/snow but I wouldn’t attempt it without chains at this point.
Posted By: brech
Info: Road is still clear of snow. I drove it with a high clearance 3/4 ton truck. A number of trucks, jeeps and larger subs. This road is rated 4 out of 6 for good reason
Posted By: montanahiker
Info: Outhouse is closed for the season (literally nailed shut).
Posted By: Carsonj20
Info: There were two bone stock suburbans with running boards at the top, if they can do it so can you. This road is not dangerous, it’s not hard, it doesn’t require any crazy high clearance rig its just bumpy. You’re not going to demolish your car as some of the other posts say so long as you have basic knowledge of how to drive on a 4wd road.
Posted By: RickyDavis
Info: Done in a stock 4WD silverado with road tires after a night of rain. Traction wasn’t a concern but I did choose some bad lines on the descent and scraped once or twice.
Posted By: Eagle Eye
Info: I doubt the road has changed much. If anything, it’s at the end of a busy summer season and on the poor side.
It seems like a very capable, high clearance 4WD/LT tires and an experienced off-road driver are required. The switchbacks are really tight so the smaller the vehicle the better! Luckily, I didn’t encounter anyone else besides an ATV either going up or coming down, but being able to maneuver off to the side in that case might be more difficult than just the trip up/down. The big stream crossing is wide enough and has a flat rock sort of floor to it. The other smaller crossing is more of a deep ditch but without much water flow. I came up the road in the morning in the dark which isn’t preferred but the stock Xterra Pro 4 X has good overhead lights and the Duratracs grip rock really well in just high range 4WD. I think 3 times I’ve driven up the road over a lot of years, and twice walked it. ---> mv
Posted By: MetricAssLoad
Info: Made it to the upper trailhead in the 2011 outback with no problems. Plenty of camping along the road especially near the top. Parking lot only had 2 cars on a Monday morning at 6am.
Posted By: Gene L
Info: Got to Lake City Saturday and drove the first quarter mile in a rented AWD Rogue. Wanted to see what the road looked like in broad daylight instead of attempting it for the first time in the dark. Decided I was not comfortable driving this road, so I turned around and went back.

At some point during this brief drive, I punctured a tire. Fortunately was able to drive the car back to Lake City and got the tire fixed the next morning. Getting a flat on Nellie Creek Rd and having to find a suitable place to change the tire would have been a disaster.

Ended up hiking Uncompahgre on Monday from the 2WD lot. Took some flip flops and a swim towel for the 1st creek crossing and stashed the flip flops behind some trees for the return trip. Highly recommend doing this or even walking across barefoot; the logs set up for foot crossing are slick and wobbly.

To the young couple from Salida who I saw this day and also day the before on Handies: enjoyed chatting with you both on the trail & thanks for the info/tips!
Posted By: backtothejack
Info: Drove up in a Subaru Outback Onyx (non-turbo) with after-market splash guards and echo the previous comment that the road is Subaru-able, if only just barely. If youre a confident driver, go slowly, and pick your lines carefully, your vehicle should sustain no more damage than a nice coating of mud. That said, an inexperienced or nervous driver could easily rack up thousands of dollars worth of damage, so go at your own risk and know that your mileage may vary. X-mode was a must and I couldnt imagine driving this road without that capability. I also concur with other commenters who say that if you can make it past the first section, you can make it to the top. The streams are rather shallow and were by far the easiest obstacle. Despite doing the improbable, I would never drive this road in my vehicle again because the margin for error is frighteningly slim and mathematically the risk compounds the more you attempt these things. If you consider hiking Uncompahgre to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, driving this road in a Subaru should similarly be a singular experience. Drive safely, keep your wits about you, and have fun.
Posted By: davebelin
Info: Drove up this morning in my stock Subaru Outback. Slow and tricky, but do-able. There was only one spot where I had to back up and pick a different line. This road was definitely at the outer limits of the capability of the Subaru, but it made it up and down. X mode coming down was awesome. It was about 40 minutes up from the turn off Henson Creek Road, 50 minutes returning back down. Fortunately very little opposing traffic in either direction, and when there was it was at opportune locations (wide spots in the road).
Posted By: BlueSkyVIew
Info: Drove it on Jul 30. The boulder may not be there but the road is still terrible. We saw a Subaru driver coming down and he said he had made it to the top, so we decided to give it a shot with a Honda Passport with big tires. Picking our lines very carefully and slowly, we made it to the trailhead. The beginning is the easier part and the road only gets worse and trickier as you go: tight and steep switchbacks, lots of deep dips on the road, pointy and large rocks in the way and some narrow sections where passing is impossible. The creek crossings are towards the mid-end of the road and are easy: flat and shallow. It took us 1h each way and gladly not many cars coming the opposite direction. We also saw a stock Rav4 with a low hitch parked at the top (we saw on the road where the hitch dragged), and on the way down, a Rav4 with broken underparts hanging from below the car. Despite making it, would never drive this road again in this car.
Posted By: tlgold1990
Info: Someone moved the huge boulder, no longer in the road. As others reported, creeks are shallow.
Posted By: hsfedina
Info: Rough at the beginning. 2 streams flowing strong but shallow enough. Theres a huge boulder in the road about mile 3narrow passage between it and ravine. Looked narrow and scary but saw some decent sized vehicles at trailheadLexus Landcruiser, some pickups.
Posted By: nmjameswilson
Info: The boulder is still on the road but two Tundras including mine were able to get around it. It is tight but people giving directions will get you by.
Posted By: hsfedina
Info: Rough at the beginning. 2 streams flowing strong but shallow enough. Theres a huge boulder in the road about mile 3narrow passage between it and ravine. Looked narrow and scary but saw some decent sized vehicles at trailheadLexus Landcruiser, some pickups.
Posted By: BRadleyC
Info: Drove stock Ford Ranger Tremor Edition up to 4WD trailhead. Truck has 9.7 inches of ground clearance. Tight switchbacks required a bit of back and forth to negotiate. Both creek crossings are vigorously flowing and the big boulder (as mentioned in previous reports) is still there but no issues squeezing around it. Upper trailhead restroom is open, but out of TP and a mess (trash piled up and running over).
Posted By: ssowalskie
Info: I only took my Subaru Outback about .25 miles up the road before pulling off, though if I had known what the rest of the road looked like, I probably could’ve pushed it to about .5-.75 miles up. The creek crossings are no joke, so make sure you have a lot of clearance if you attempt to drive through them. The boulder near the upper trailhead is still there as well, but looked like there was enough room to clear it (just barely).
Posted By: Gpacardella
Info: Thanks to Virtual Sherpa and Flatlander previous comments and pics, we brought a sledgehammer up the road and my son knocked down the truck side of the boulder to give another 6"-8" of clearance. This gave us a total of about 1’ to get around the boulder in my stock Tundra. Warning though that during the 1 dry night we were camped at the TH, a modest slide dropped debris back on the 4wd road that we drove over when we left. No big deal but if there was heavy rain, there could be some huge boulders that will likely clog the road so beware if it’s a rainy forecast, so you don’t get trapped up valley. The narrow spot I’m referencing is 1/4 to 1/2 mile down valley of the boulder. No other blockage exists on the road at this time.
Posted By: Thevirtualsherpa
Info: Same as last status update - stock taco to just before 2nd creek crossing no problem. After that, some major issues - snow is least of your concerns as there are a number of downed trees (one right before 2nd creek crossing) and then about 5/6 more after that. To add to that - 2/3 mudslides have really added some nice spice to the road just after the 2nd creek crossing including one large Boulder (pictured) that Im sure a lot of larger trucks/ cars will not be able to get by. Positive: upper toliet is open
Posted By: Logan5280
Info: Road is open. Drivable to about 1.5 miles below summer trailhead if you’re willing to drive through the creek with somewhat high water levels. From there, deep snow and downed trees make the road impassable for now.
Posted By: milesmorris
Info: Park at bottom of Nellie Creek, patchy snow for 1.1miles then continuous snow to TH. 1 down tree half way up and a creek crossing could be challenging on a snowmobile, but possible. No where to park along the road where snow starts.
Posted By: aksean22
Info: Dry and 2WD accessible to the lower TH. Nearly continuous snow starting at the bottom of the 4WD road. Would not recommend trying to make it any further.
Posted By: L_Macalister
Info: We made it in an Xterra 4x4 with a couple bumps (probably my fault) but no issues. My first time up this road but compared to some pictures I looked at before I went, I’d say they’ve improved the road a bit. Some people have said this one is comparable to South Colony road. For me this was not true, I found SCR to be harder in my vehicle. The toughest parts here were the switchbacks right after both creek crossings. Tight and there are some big ruts and boulders on the inside of the corners. On the upper half there was a lot of mud in some places from some recent snowfall. Saw 6-8 other vehicles and a few sideby’s over the weekend. There was one new Rav4 that I saw come up to the trailhead, heard them scrape a few times in the 100 yards that i could see them. So I’d say unless you don’t care about scraping it’s still higher clearance only to the trailhead.
Posted By: random-dude
Info: No real issues w/a stock (excepting rock rails) 2015 xterra pro4-x - we aired down our tires and went up in 4L and 2nd gear and run 31" KO2 tires. It was honestly easier going up than going down for us. Were not the most experienced 4WD wheelers around so take this w/a grain of salt but it was fine taking it slow and steady. We saw others going much quicker and thats fine also.

I, personally, wouldnt drive anything up/down this road that isnt an actual, real 4wd. I am sure someone in a Subee will and has gotten up there but that wouldnt be a great idea for the transmission or brakes imo.

There were two stock Taco’s TRD-Off Roads, a crewcab F150, a heavy duty Ram 2500, a lifted Tundra, and a Grand Cherokee Trailhawk for non SxS’s that we saw up there today.

We barely slipped at any point going up or down.
Posted By: JasonCrane
Info: We opted to park on CR20 along the side of the road at the base of Nellie Creek Rd (CR23.) It’s 4 miles extra road hike each way to upper TH. Nellie Creek Rd/CR23 has deep ruts, large potholes, rock beds, multiple creek crossings, switchbacks & about everything you can imagine on an unmaintained backcountry road. We did see several high clearance pick-up trucks at the upper TH & at dispersed campsites along the upper 1/3 of the road. We also saw a number of ATVs cruising by without much issue. Ultimately, despite the road hike & extra miles, we were very happy with our decision not to try to drive Nellie Creek Rd. Total RT hike to Uncompahgre summit was 15.7 miles (Garmin Fenix.) CR20 (dirt road) from Lake City is generally in good condition & passable for 2WD as far as we went to Nellie Creek Rd junction. Note - it’s hunting season & we saw a few hunters. Hikers may want to consider wearing orange.

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