McNasser Gulch Trailhead


Range: Sawatch Range
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Road Difficulty

Moderate 4WD, long wheel base vehicles not recommended. Good clearance required. 4   (0=Paved, 6=Very Difficult 4WD)
4WD to the lower TH. A bit tougher to reach the upper TH. Plenty of deep water bars and 4WD would be necessary in the spring.

Driving Directions

From U.S. 24 south of Leadville, take Colorado 82 west towards Twin Lakes. Drive 14.5 miles on Colorado 82 and turn left at the marked La Plata Peak Trailhead. Just left of the parking area, take Forest Service (FS) road 391 (South Fork Lake Creek Road). Drive 2.7 miles on this road to reach a junction - stay right on FS 391. At 3.2 miles, reach a junction for FS 394. This junction is considered the "lower" trailhead so if you had problems getting this far, park in this area. If you have 4WD and good clearance, turn right on FS 394 and continue 1.1 miles to the upper trailhead where the road is gated at 11,360'.

Winter Access

Closed at the La Plata Peak trailhead (start of the FS 391 road).
Trailhead added by BillMiddlebrook
Status Updates 
Posted By: EndWillows
Info: Snow free until the upper trailhead. One tight section where a log can scrape your roof if your car is too tall. Was not a problem in an Xterra. The upper road was easier than South Colony Lakes and I would say it is subaruable with an experienced driver. There was a dug out muddy section in the lower part of the road that I think was harder than anything to the Upper Trailhead, so if you can pass that you will be fine.
Posted By: Grover
Info: Clear to the gate at ~11,400. No snow. Trees that had fallen across the road were removed / sawed through.
Posted By: wintersage
Info: The lower portion has a lot of ruts and craters as others have mentioned. In the morning these can be icy. I parked 0.4 mi from the gate near the clearing pictured in the trailhead description.
Posted By: cougar
Info: Rough ruts as mentioned hold water long after rain. 80pct of road isn’t bad. 394 split is above the faded 391 sign at 3 way split with 382. Maps don’t show thus split. Road up higher overall isn’t bad aside from a washed out wide rutted area full of bigger rocks, want clearance for that. Saw a Nissan Rogue at the upper 4wd th.
Posted By: GordoByrn
Info: First mile will give a feel for grades, potholes and rutts.

1/4 mile muddy section after ~1.5 miles would be beyond my Subaru abilities. I was in a 4Runner with A/T Revo 3s. First muddy section is in the private land area.

After that, it is pretty reasonable to the lower trailhead.

To the upper trailhead, again, beyond my Subbie skills. Took it slow in 4Lo. There is a rutted muddy "crux" about a 1/3rd of the way up. Campsite nearby if you don’t make it.

Will be better when it dries out.

Campsites at the gate. I wasn’t the guy who drove up to them.

Leadville 4a
Leave pavement 435a
Lower TH 505a
Upper TH 525a

On the way out:
Leave gate area 10:35a
Hit pavement again 11:15a
This was going really mellow
Posted By: angry
Info: Mostly dry. The lower portion of road is the worst with deep ruts. Subaruable. One small drift right below th (approximately 400ft from gate) only adds an extra couple minutes of walking.
Posted By: Danger_D
Info: Snowfree all the way. Getting to the "lower" trailhead at 3.2 miles was harder than expected. My RAV-4 handled it fine, but a normal sedan won’t make it. From the lower trailhead to the gate was slightly harder, and I gently scraped twice. Maybe not a beginner 4WD trailhead. Lots of camping on the road up the the lower trailhead (after the private land) but it filled up insanely fast. Only 2 marginal campsites on the road up to the gate. Right at the gate is a big field you could camp in, but its sloping quite bit
Posted By: Jay521
Info: Clear and dry all the way.
Posted By: cdgibbons
Info: I found this to be one of the more difficult 2WD roads. I parked at the 2WD trailhead; I have AWD and about 6" of clearance and would have been unhappy with much less. All of the avy debris has been cleared from both the 2WD and 4WD sections.
Posted By: Dan_Suitor
Info: I moved the one tree that was in the road .25 miles from the TH. Now it is clear to the gate. Still a rough ride though.
Posted By: texag11
Info: Made it up in a Subaru Outback. There’s a couple of tight sections and you have to cross over some downed trees.
Posted By: 9patrickmurphy
Info: Got within 0.44 miles of the gate. It looks like someone’s been slowly chipping away at the debris with a chainsaw, might be open all the way in a few weeks. Don’t be deterred though, it took me 10 minutes to walk to it from where I parked and the hike is super worth it.
Posted By: tauma
Info: The upper trailhead is cut off by avalanche debris about 0.25 from the lower trailhead.

In brief plan for an 8 mile round trip to Grizzly not 6.

You can park easily opposite the closure which is 0.75 miles from the TH gate.
Posted By: jesditoro
Info: We were able to reach just below the 2nd switchback on the 4WD portion of the road (lifted Toyota Tundra). As a previous report has stated, avi debri has made most of the 1.1 miles of 4WD road impassable. We parked and slept just below the avi debri covering the 4WD road (just below the 2nd switchback) and summitted Grizzly Peak A the morning of 7/21/19. When we were returning to our car that morning there was a man with a chainsaw chopping up some of the trees in the avi debri that was covering the road. I imagine it will take a decent amount of time before the 4WD trailhead is fully accessible due to the sheer number of trees and deep snowfields that are scattered across the road...
Posted By: DanielL
Info: Drove up in a 2007 rav4 to the lower TH which is the junction of FR 391 and 394, around 10,800 or so. Spring avalanches have ripped up the road a bit along FR 391, but debris has been cleared. Some big potholes, rocks and ruts along the 391, but saw plenty of 4WD vehicles with moderate clearance had no problem.

The final 1.1 miles to the upper TH on the 394 are impassible due to avy debris covering the road in several places, the first of which is about 0.2 mile above the junction with 391 (lower TH).
Posted By: madadraw1
Info: This is an easy class 4 road. My Rav4 can’t get up any class 4 roads except for this one. I got all the way to upper TH. Much of this road is easy to drive. It has occasional sections with increased difficulty. Bottomed out a hand full of times. One once did it make me cringe - this is about half way between the lower and upper THs. Decent amount of dispersed camp sites once get past private property.
Posted By: E_A_Marcus_949
Info: About what you’d expect from a road difficulty of 4. Some big boulders and rock obstacles. One section that was clearly a mud pile that is rutted out and dried of old car tracks with some big boulders (maybe 0.5mi to gate). Careful maneuvering up this road and you should be fine. If you can make it to the fork where the "lower TH" is, you should be able to make it up to the gate. We made it in a stock Toyota Highlander. The other few cars we saw up there were two 4Runners and a Toyota Tacoma.
Posted By: LetsGoMets
Info: Road is in pretty good shape all the way to the upper TH. Any decent clearance SUV should have no real problems going slow. If you can make it to the Lower TH, then you can make it to the Upper TH.
Posted By: TakeMeToYourSummit
Info: The 391 & the 394 roads were both clear of snow (& almost mud free) except for one short section near the TH for McNasser. This should be melted out soon with the current temps. There were a few puddles & some flowing water in spots.
Posted By: JQDivide
Posted By: SolarAlex
Info: Like previously mentioned, the lower part of the road is about the same difficulty of the upper 4wd part. There are a couple of rougher sections and water bars that would require careful driving in a subaru or lower clearance SUV. AWD/4wd is necessary. Road is dry to the gate
Posted By: kansas
Info: Road is pretty much the same from the La Plata TH to the Upper TH. Gets pretty rough within the first half mile and stays that way. Good clearance is a must all the way, lots of deep holes and steep bars. If you can make it to the lower TH, you will have no issues getting to the upper TH. I would not classify the lower section as "easy 4WD" anymore
Posted By: CO Native
Info: There has been some road work that added large water redirection dams in the road. Even after that there are large washes and water damaged areas. I never got out of 2wd on my vehicle driving up to the trailhead, but I certainly needed some good clearance to get through. The road between what is listed as the lower trailhead and upper trailhead isn‘t any worse (possibly better due to less use) than the road leading up to the lower trailhead. The only reason to stop any lower than the end of the road is to get 3,000 feet of elevation gain.

I would say this trailhead is a 4wd trailhead (upper and lower) but only for the clearance.
Posted By: CarpeDM
Info: Rough, but low clearance 2wd accessible to the lower TH with very careful driving. Mostly dry, with a few puddles along the way. Don‘t remember any significant problems along road to upper (4wd) TH. Unusual situation: no carpooling. So we had 4 cars at the McNasser Gulch TH: my Honda Fit, another sub-compact, and 2 sedans. It took me (and I think all others) about 30 minutes to drive the 3.3 miles up and about 25 minutes to drive down. The bottom of my front bumper scraped the ground about 4 times each way, but no other bottoming out.

The parking that we used was a campsite at about 0.1 mile before where the road splits at 3.3 miles in. Enough room for 4 or 5 cars.
Posted By: jesse
Info: 4X4 road is clear all the way to the forest service gate. All trees have been sawed and moved off of the road.
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