Baldwin Gulch Trailhead


Road Difficulty

Moderate 4WD, long wheel base vehicles not recommended. Good clearance required. 4   (0=Paved, 6=Very Difficult 4WD)
Easy 2WD dirt to 9,400' at start of the Baldwin Gulch road.
4WD to 12,000' in Baldwin Gulch.
Narrow 4WD to 13,100'.

Driving Directions

From the junction of U.S. 285 and U.S. 24, south of Buena Vista, drive 5.5 miles south on U.S. 285 and turn right (west) on Chaffee County Road 162 - towards Mt. Princeton. Drive almost 12.5 miles on this road (dirt after 10 miles) to reach the signed Baldwin Gulch Jeep Road on the left (also listed as the 277 Road). If you plan on parking here, there are plenty of pull-offs along the road. This is the lower trailhead. Short, high-clearance 4WD vehicles can drive up the 277 road. Above the river crossing (10,850'), there are dispersed camping spots along the side of the road.

Winter Access

Usually closed at the start of the Baldwin Gulch 4WD road.
Status Updates 
Posted By: askwjs
Info: Plowed to TH on 162. Easy access for any vehicle.
Posted By: CaptCO
Info: Two ice slabs within the 1st mile. Found hiking shoe near treeline brought down. Snow on road 2mi from TH. Multiple rock slides; gonna start a petition to close this road soon lol. Trenched to Cronin and Antero yw.
Posted By: Trotter
Info: Road is icy but clear to start of 4WD section. Very snowy and icy up 4WD road, a couple vehicles made it to the ice slick at 0.25 miles in, but then turned around. One vehicle with chains made it farther but also turned around within a mile.
Posted By: angry
Info: Dry to th.
Posted By: mtgoatmike
Info: Chaffee County Road 162 is great all the way to the trailhead. It is paved for the first 10 miles, then there is a bridge with a sign stating pavement ends. The dirt road is perfect for the remaining 2 miles to the trailhead. It’s a great dirt road that has minimal potholes and washboard. My 2000 Honda Accord took it like a normal Colorado high country road. There is a parking pullout on the right hand side just before the trailhead (forest road 277).
Posted By: Btuperkwh
Info: Note: I walked up, did not drive Sun 9/13. Saw 3 vehicles the whole day. 7am, frozen ground whole way up. By 2pm, lots of run-off, slushy ankle deep snow, and slippery mud.
- First mile: Run-off, slushy snow and mud. There are a 1-2 very deep holes/ruts now due to vehicle traffic sliding through the mud and run-off from the past several days. One rut is very close to the drop off edge of the road.
- Second mile to creek crossing: Good shape. Note: Creek crossings are running higher/wider due to run off - watched a high clearance jeep wrangler and 4-runner cross very tentatively. They made it.
- Treeline to switchbacks: Snow and drifts. Switchbacks up were covered in drifts up to knee-deep, waist level. Frozen in the morning and easy to walk on and slush in the afternoon (post-holing all the way down). Gully is the same - frozen snow in the AM and then mud in the afternoon. Note: You can walk on the edge of the road most of the way down without postholing. One jeep was parked at the 1st-2nd switchback (pointed up). Not sure how they got turned around and down with all the mud.
- Trail to summit: Intermittent ’dry’ trail/snow. Snow between the rocks - afternoon melt made them a bit slippery.
Posted By: langecorya
Info: I drove a stock 1999 Chevy Tahoe up to 11,800 ft. We could have taken the Tahoe all the way to the top but wanted to stop at tree line to camp and then hike from tree line the next morning. Time from trailhead to tree line took 45 minutes. I never hit the bottom of my Tahoe but would imagine that anything with much smaller clearance (Subaru outback) would struggle to not scrape the bottom. Any vehicle with good clearance and a driver who knows good tire placement could get to the top of this road. The creek crossings were simple with firm rock bases to drive over. Above tree line the trail gets tremendously easier and turns into a basic dirt road. Higher you go, the easier it gets. Overall, really fun off road that will test your abilities.
Posted By: ndrew
Info: I drove this road on a stock 2019 Jeep Cherokee with about 8 inches of clearance, no added skid plates, only what came with the Jeep. Stock tires, with standard inflation. It was a white-knuckle experience, but I made it to up the road to the point where the road crosses the creek (a little under 3 miles from the CR-162). There were 3-4 tough spots and a few scrapings of the bottom of the Jeep. The road gets way better at this point, but I decided to stop here as i didn’t want to drive the entire way up the mountain. If you can make it to the creek, you can keep going.

Going down was a different story, since the car was pointed down, I found myself scraping the bottom of the car more than a dozen times. I didn’t like it and it was an unpleasant experience, but it was still better than hiking down. A quick inspection of the car once I made it to the bottom showed definite scrapes on the undercarriage and one of the plastic coverings got torn off. However, no leaks, flat tires, or significant damages, so I consider it a success and totally worth it. So if you are a stock 4WD SUV owner like me and are curious if you can drive this road, the answer is yes, but it won’t be pretty.
Posted By: njx9
Info: Not a fun road - I think the first hundred feet (pictured) are pretty representative of the remainder (at least to tree line). Lots of big rocks pinging my running boards and skid plate (stock 2014 4Runner). I wouldnt try this with any less clearance, at this point. I imagine the road is basically as good as it actually gets, right now, but I can imagine it getting significantly worse after an afternoon rain.

If you can get to the creek, you can probably get just about as high as you want.
Posted By: csu-peter
Info: Made it to 11,365’ in a stock 2013 Jeep Compass. This road is about the upper limit for my car as it was pretty intense coming up, however, the road generally becomes easier the higher you go. I did not have enough moment/power to continue over this gradual hump, otherwise, I think I would have made it to 11,150’. For my car, this required extreme caution, keeping momentum, and very thoughtful tire placement.

3000’ of gain... I know, I know..
Posted By: KDinCO
Info: The road is a workout and not pretty! I made it to 11,000’ in a stock 4Runner (with snow tires!). Chose to stop and park there as I wanted the 3000’ elev gain. Some unavoidable bigger rocks higher up, then the road smooths out. After the creek crossing there are a lot of smaller rocks that cause traction issues on steeper sections when navigating around larger obstacles.

From reading the previous report, I thought the road would be better shape after the first 100’, but that’s not the case. It has a lot of pretty gnarly spots that require a careful line. I would not attempt this without high clearance. I was also surprised at how narrow the road is in places. Not many passing places. Fine going up at 4:30 am (took about 30 mins to get to 11000’ from the beginning of 277), but coming down around 10:30 am I met with many ATVs, even on a Wednesday! I found it helpful to drive down with my window open so I could hear them approaching. Took about 45 mins to get down.
Posted By: JamesK
Info: Made it to a nice campsite around 11,800’ in a stock 4runner TRD just at treeline. Coming down this morning, I think I could have made it to above 13,000’.... plan on 1 hour from 2wd trailhead to 12k both up and down, its a bumpy road.

Note: my climbing partner was driving a standard jeep Cherokee (not grand) and he said he couldn’t have made it more than 100’ past the dirt road onto 277. Subaru’s and lower clearance vehicle’s need to park on the dirt road unless modified or willing to take risk.
Posted By: Been_Jammin
Info: Pushed Tahoe Z71 with stock lift up to 13,230K. Hit skid plates a couple times. After walking to the top of Antero, I think my truck could of made it to ~13.6K where the road stops... Might of had to stack some rocks to get over a move around ~13.4K.
Posted By: swesleyc7
Info: Made it up to the 4WD trailhead with a Chevy Colorado Z71 with a 2-in front lift and stock tires. The road is pretty rough, with lots of knobby rocks. I’d recommend Subaru Foresters & Outbacks not attempt it. There were 2 stream crossings, but water is fairly low. The 4WD road is very narrow in parts, so don’t come late and compete with traffic coming down!
Posted By: hogantheepic
Info: Road is completely clear of snow and accessible to the trailhead. Camped at one of the shoulders near the trailhead. Road to trailhead doesn’t need any special sort of vehicle.
Posted By: morgansperry
Info: The road is clear to the 2WD trailhead. There’s snow leading up to the start of the zig zags, snow shoes are recommend. When the zig zags start, only the road is covered in snow, so we decided to hike straight up towards the peak. Picture 1 is at the 4WD trailhead, picture 2 is at the summit.
Posted By: mtn_nut
Info: The road is clear and the parking at the bottom of the road is clear as well. no issues with 2WD getting to the bottom of the 4WD road.
Posted By: joflyer22
Info: Good plowed road leading to 2WD TH at 9,400. Gate closed up the 4WD route. A couple of parking spots on the right side of the road just before the gate have also been plowed out.
Posted By: angry
Info: Clear, easy 2wd to lower trailhead.
Posted By: G-regJennings
Info: Attempted the to reach the upper narrow 4wd trailhead at 13,100 and made it within a couple hundred feet before getting stuck in 10-12" snow drifts from the night/morning before. The pucker factor was high maneuvering down in reverse until finding a spot to turn around. We were in a lifted cherokee on 33’s. I would highly advise not attempting past the 12,000’ sign/market.
Posted By: askwjs
Info: See Antero peak conditions report
Posted By: kirbs007
Info: The road is dry and free of obstacles. I was able to drive all the way up to the plateau at 13,100 in my 2005 Subaru Forester XT with good all-terrain tires and skid plates.

Video of the drive down:
Posted By: Flyingfish
Info: Creek crossing is easily passable. I took a stock Jeep Cherokee to 13,300
Posted By: E_A_Marcus_949
Info: We all parked at the lower TH - only Razrs, jeeps, and lifted trucks were heading up. Saw one brave Honda Pilot driving up as we were headed down. Creek crossings aren’t deep. Easy road to hike but not worth ruining car over. Easy road to lower TH - smooth dirt road and paved most of the way. No Verizon cell service until after treeline.
Posted By: ncxhjhgvbi
Info: Made my way up to a small turnoff at ~11,200’ in a stock 2018 Tacoma (33 minutes from 162 jct). After hiking the road to get my 3000’ vert I am pretty confident I could have safely made it to the turnoff for 278A/B at 13,000’. The road after 12,000’ is in great shape and the only concern would be tight switchbacks/passing. There were a number of full size trucks and jeeps between Antero and White and there was a Silverado parked at the spur turnoff at 13,200’.

There were signs at the beginning of the road that warned of possible delays due to excavation work but I did not run into any at 1pm. I agree with the previous posters that the waterbars require some clearance. If you can make it past the first water crossing where extensive excavation work has been done (Deer Canyon?), you should have no problem getting to 12,000’ on 278. Thank you to the crews who fixed the road! Could not have been easy.

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