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: davedad
Info: Went up Antero yesterday. This road is rough- particularly the first 400 yards. This is a definitive 4 wheel drive road- doable by Tacoma/Forerunner/Jeep but not compatible with small SUV. The primary issue is clearance. Ironically the road gets better but is still rough. New water bar construction on road makes clearance crucial.
Posted By: nkrpctl
Info: Came across and excavator digging ribbons/deep ditches across 277 road, every 50 yards or so from lake at about 11,000 down to 162. Barely made it down in 4 runner w/ AT tires. Road was already pretty miserable, now may not be doable w/o jeep.
Posted By: tped
Info: According to sign at bottom, 277 road was closed/repaired on 8/1. Still pretty rough after repairs but likely back to normal. Made it to just under 12k in a Jeep Liberty w/ AT tires. Probably could have crawled higher, but enough was enough! Thanks to my fav/new co-pilot, Steve!
Posted By: arianna2
Info: Here’s some pictures of the flash flood damage. The first 100 yards of the trailhead is in pretty rough shape. We did it in a Jeep Grand Cherokee with quadra-lift but it was still a little sketchy at times. After that to the main creek crossing is typical 4x4 road. There is one small area that is packed snow drift/avalanche debris. One side had a deep spin out hole that we put a few rocks in to help stay somewhat balanced. Looked like others followed suit and put more rocks in it. Probably will change a lot over the next week or two. The creek is about knee deep or less at the deepest. Dogs could walk not swim. Then it was pretty easy going after that it looked like. We hiked from the creek area. Mainly jeeps and a couple trucks on the road. Can get to 13650 before a big drift is in the way.
Posted By: awitkowicz
Info: There was overnight flash flooding on 7/14, and as of 7/15 the 4x4 road is impassable by vehicle about 100’ from the trailhead. I drive a lifted Tacoma and have a good amount of 4x4 experience in Colorado, and I did not even consider attempting the trail in its current condition. I would honestly probably not even attempt it in a RAZR right now. There are a lot of trees that washed into the road, and there is a fast flowing river with steep banks that seems to be a result of the flash floods.

This river took some other hikers about 20 minutes to find a route around. I decided that if it was this bad at 9200’, then it would probably be pretty rough higher up too, so I called it a day. But I can’t confirm what the trail was like beyond about 9400’.

All that said, once the water from the new rains dissipates, the trail conditions will likely improve pretty quickly. I don’t want to deter anyone from a trip out there, so please check out reports updated after today, 7/15, to see if things have improved! But as of 7/15, it is impassable.

Photos attached!
Posted By: cougar
Info: Jeeps and Tacomas (with a bit of a lift) are getting over the avalanche debris. All the big stuff is gone, mostly packed branches. Stream crossings still high. First couple miles of road aren’t bad and most vehicles with decent clearance and 4wd should be fine. More small rocks than big ones.
Posted By: cottonmountaineering
Info: The road is blocked by avy debris 1mile below the river crossing, there is a nice turnaround spot right where the avalanche is (don’t park here) and space for maybe 4 or 5 vehicles within a short walk

Some ATVs have been driving up and over the snow, the furthest debris field is about 6 ft tall so will still take some time to melt
Posted By: arianna2
Info: Spoke with Salida FS office. They say the road junction 277/278 is still closed due to Av debris.
Posted By: WildWanderer
Info: Easy and clear 2WD access to 2WD lot. Parked at the 2WD lot and wasn’t disappointed. From almost where the 4WD road begins it’s a steady stream of water running down the trail. The road was worse than I remember it in 2017. No snow until after the creek crossings, but there’s avy debris still covering the road about 1/2 a mile before the first creek crossing. It’s easy to hike over, but no vehicles will be getting through until it melts and is cleared. There are 2 campsites that provide potential parking spaces, the last one at 10,530’. It’s also the last chance to turn around, but I’d recommend just parking at the 2WD area and hiking in. When I crossed the creek the water was up to my knees.
Posted By: Corey17
Info: Easy access to the lower TH off Chalk Creek. Patchy snow for the first mile of the 4WD road, then continuous snow up to treeline, getting deeper as you go higher. There were tire tracks up about 1/2 mile of the road, but no farther. The road is melting really quickly right now - but the avy debris around 2 1/4 miles up the road is going to take a long time to be clear!
Posted By: daway8
Info: 2WD trailhead was totally covered over in deep snow with no sign of recent tire tracks but there is parking nearby on pull offs on the main road (which is muddy but totally free of snow). 4WD is a total no-go right now. Lots of deep snow, some very hard packed, some soft, some solid ice plus there is significant avalanche blockage from about 2.17 to ~2.3 miles in with multiple humps of snow and debris so there’s no way you could even make it to the stream crossing except on foot. Expect the 4WD road may be impassable for quite a while. Photos attached.
Posted By: wintersage
Info: The 2WD TH is open, a bit muddy but highly accessible. There is a small cutoff right before the CR 277 entrance where multiple cars can park/

The 4WD RD (CR 277) is not accessible. There are no tire tracks to follow and the snow is quite deep. A picture is attached which shows how it is unplowed from the very beginning.
Posted By: Cereal
Info: Any sedan can make it to the Lower/2WD Baldwin Gulch TH (lot on the right side of 162 just before the 277 junction). My Corolla made it without any issue. The road is plowed and in impressive shape!
Posted By: stephakett
Info: Road to the 2WD trailhead is in great condition, plow has maintained the road very well. There is no access to 4WD road for automotive vehicles.
Posted By: RWSchaffer
Info: While I was on the mountain today, an ATV made it to timberline before spinning out on the steep stretches that lead to the switchbacks. It compacted 2-6 inches of fresh snow on 277 and 4-8 inches on 278. So, much of the road is still open to seriously capable 4WD vehicles, but most drivers should plan on parking at the lower trailhead.
Posted By: Curve
Info: Road is impassible above 13,000 feet for sure due to 12 inch deep snow drifts. However, You may have a hard time just getting to the switchbacks as the road after the 4wd Trailhead is covered in about 4inches of snow. The road up to the 4wd Trailhead is blanketed in snow about 2-3 inches deep, but I maintained traction for the most part. I have a modified Ford F-150 and was able to make it up to about 12,000 feet today, but with tomorrows forcast this could change. Despite the Forcast tommorow I still believe you may be able to make to the 4wd Trailhead for about another week or so.
Posted By: generic_username
Info: The actual start of the trailhead is Road 277 and I didn’t see any TH sign like other 14er routes have, so I missed it and had to turn back. 277 starts at about 9600’, but that RT mileage is ~15 miles so I decided to park up at 12000’-the road was a class 4. Only noticed a few scratches, but my Jeep has the underbelly protection so no damage done. Fun little offroad experience, although took something like 45 mins to travel from 9600 to 12000. In Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk
Posted By: pbarn
Info: Just drove Baldwin Gulch up to 11k in a Liberty with7.9 clearance and AT tires. Just a few scrapings on the way down, nothing major and no damage.

I list this as at first I was apprehensive about the road, as mine is one of the lower Jeeps on the market. I did quite a bit of research before taking this one on - and I want to pass this on to anyone else thinking about this road. As always, paying attention to your line and knowing your vehicles points are crucial.

Once up to 12k the road actually gets better, and I could have easily driven up to the 13.8k mark (except Im of the 3000 ft gain needed to summit crew...).

Above the creak there are some beautiful places to camp.
Posted By: Strider29
Info: This is a fairly rough road, but a good high-clearance vehicle (at least 8.5") and careful driving, you should have no problem making it to the stream crossing at 10,800 ft. The road up from there is actually a little easier, with the caveat that it gets pretty narrow as it switchbacks up the mountain and there are very few places to pass a vehicle going the other way. There is a good sized flat spot at roughly 13,000 ft, with a large signboard. If you’re in anything other than a pretty serious (and probably modified) 4WD vehicle, park here and hike the last bit. The final 800’ of the road is very, very rough with big rocks, slick ledges and seriously sharp switchbacks. I made it all the way up in a stock Nissan Frontier Pro4X (crew cab) with good off-road tires, but should have stayed put at 13k. Got talked into it by someone telling me the last section’s no harder than what we’d already done. That is not true, the last part is significantly more difficult. Also, once you start up this last bit, you’re committed as there is no way to turn around. Sorry no pics of the road, I was white-knuckling it up and down!
Posted By: LetsGoMets
Info: Drove a stock 1998 Land Cruiser with off road tires up to the stream crossing at 10,800ish and parked there. Road to that point was very rocky and rough, but manageable. I actually thought the remainder of the road was in much better shape and less rocky from the stream upward. Honestly, if you can make it to the stream without issue and are comfortable, you can for sure keep going.

Saw a Subaru at the stream crossing...nice job.
Posted By: Barb1957
Info: Can anyone tell me if we made it to west Winfield to the meadow for la plata how far can we go on Baldwin gulch. Should we park at Baldwin Gulch or can we go further? Thanks
Posted By: Barb1957
Info: Can anyone tell me if we made it to west Winfield to the meadow for la plata how far can we go on Baldwin gulch. Should we park at Baldwin Gulch or can we go further? Thanks
Posted By: sawyervillers
Info: Nice Sunday. Saw 70+ vehicles above 12000ft. The one that I remember is the very large tracked excavator coming up the trail at the tree line. Not sure the purpose, but possibly construction of some pit toilets
Posted By: XPLSV
Info: Drove the 4WD road and parked at 12,000 feet in my Ram Power Wagon. I doubt the conditions get any easier: no mud, minimal water flowing on the stream crossings. Had a light brush touching the sides or roof a couple times. As others have mentioned, a lot of rocks the entire way. A few larger ones and a few ruts, but nothing bad. I never scraped (14.5 inches of clearance) anything. I was glad not to encounter another vehicle coming from the opposite direction--not a lot of places to allow a full sized pickup and another vehicle to get past each other. Could have easily driven up to the 13,800 foot elevation on the road, as I saw a couple Wranglers doing that day. BTW, I can confirm that Wrangler that rolled last month is no longer up there.
Posted By: merrion13
Info: Creek crossing a non-issue, but I was surprised by the difficulty of this road. Between the start and the creek crossing, there are a lot of large rocks scattered throughout the road that present far more ’obstacles’ than what I’ve experienced on Lead King, Nellie Creek, etc. This road is never that steep, but many of the rocks come just around 8-9" which is standard ground clearance for many SUVs. Definitely slow going, and glad to be done with it!

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