Fourth of July Trailhead


Range: Front Range
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Road Difficulty

Easy 4WD, good clearance recommended. 3   (0=Paved, 6=Very Difficult 4WD)
Usually opens around early July (hence the name). Closed in winter. Elevation around 10,145 feet.

Driving Directions

If you live either north or south of Eldora, use the following directions: Go north or south on Colorado 119 to the town of Nederland. Traveling north on 119, turn left at the Eldora turnoff. Coming from the north, turn right at the Eldora turn-off (County Road 130). Continue on that road past Nederland High School and past the turn for the Eldora "shelf road" that leads up to the resort. 1.8 miles after the Eldora shelf road, you'll read the town of Eldora.Continue through town. The road is now called Eldorado Avenue. In less than a mile, you'll pass through the town and the road will turn to dirt (or you'll hit a closure if it's winter).About 0.75 miles after the transition to dirt, the road splits. Keep to the right, following the sign to the 4th of July trailhead and Buckingham Campground.You'll pass by a number of cabins along the way. About 4 miles past that road split and sign, you'll reach the trailhead. This road is probably passable for most passenger cars but I wouldn't try it in a low clearance vehicle or with a new driver. The trail starts in the upper parking lot right after the Buckingham Campground. There is free parking if you get there early, but note that it can fill up on popular summer weekends, leaving people to park precariously on the narrow access road.

Winter Access

Status Updates 
Posted By: markf
Info: Winter access for this trailhead is at the Hessie Rd and Fourth of July Road split (39.951572762098884, -105.5950280484135), about 4 miles below the big parking lot and Buckingham Campground. This is also the 2WD option for the Hessie trailhead in summer. The road to this point is 2WD dirt, and is well maintained in winter, although snow tires or chains are frequently necessary for 2WD vehicles. This area is very heavily used in winter by snowshoers and XC skiers.
Posted By: markf
Info: On Wednesday, 11/17, I was able to get to the trailhead in a Honda Civic with good snow tires. Quite a bit of bare ground, and limited clearance was not a big problem.
Posted By: ccerling
Info: FYI. There are road signs up indicating that 4th of July Road will be closed on Tuesday 8/3 with no access in or out for resurfacing work.
Posted By: kingshimmers
Info: Trailhead and road parking was almost full at 6:30am. Road has some spots that are in rough condition this year. Some years I’d take a sedan up, others I wouldn’t... this is one where a few of the spots would be rough. Potholes and ruts are starting to get a bit deep in one or two places. That said, I did see a Tesla model 3 at the trailhead sooooo...
Posted By: 123tqb
Info: Road is closed from the Hessie trailhead onwards. Expect to add another 4mi each way, with icy conditions all the way up to 4th of July. Microspikes highly recommended, with deeper snow after the trailhead. Snowshoes not necessary yet, but could be used.
Posted By: LetsGoMets
Info: A good number of deep ruts and high rocks - I’d imagine you need to get creative with a low clearance vehicle to avoid damage, but there were a good number of 2WD cars there. Trailhead (and all road parking) was full by 11AM (Friday) - I was stalked by parking spot claimers the second I walked out of the TH.
Posted By: rgmcnair12
Info: the road is free of snow to the upper trailhead.
Posted By: DaisyofColorado
Info: We weren’t able to make it to trailhead with AWD, winter tires and high clearance cars (Subaru, Nissan xterra, Honda CRV). We made it 1 mile left to the trailhead (3 miles up from Hessie TH) and had to turn around. Snow got very deep, slipped a lot and I got stuck in the snow (AWD, Winter tires Honda CRV) and had to be pushed out by friends. The section of the road to Hessie TH was good.
Posted By: gmarc
Info: Was up there today, open and snow free to the trailhead!
Posted By: grahampa
Info: Fourth of July TH is still closed at the normal winter closure. About 2.5 miles up the road from the closure starts long stretches of snow coverage. snowshoes recommended later in the day. I still was able to make it to the TH from the winter closure in about 1.25 hours in my trail runners around 1 pm. anything further up the Arapaho pass trail snowshoes, gaiters and/or skis highly recommended.
Posted By: kingshimmers
Info: On this specific day, Fourth of July Road was 95% clear of snow. Road was mostly dry on 11/4 (no giant puddles), and currently passable in most vehicles. Outhouse is still stocked with TP ;)
Posted By: kingshimmers
Info: Currently fine and passable in most vehicles. One set of puddles getting larger as the season progresses, but still looking fine as of now.
Posted By: jennincolorado
Info: Based on a previous report that I read online last week (I can’t remember if someone posted here or elsewhere) I didn’t take my Subaru Legacy up this & waited an extra week until we could take my boyfriend’s Outback. I think my car would have been FINE even with it’s low clearance (5.9in).

This road is not bad at all. Its a 2wd dirt road. There are some rocks and some puddles. But anyone who has driven off road before on a 2wd road with a lower clearance car & knows how to maneuver your vehicle -- will be fine. We saw all sorts of cars up there at the parking lot including a Prius, a low Nissan sedan and an old Chevy car.
Posted By: sdkeil
Info: Clear and open to the trailhead
Posted By: scholbiwan
Info: Trailhead closed at the Fourth of July/Hessie split. Hessie appeared open at the split, but we did not go further down that path. Signage for Fourth of July closure said "Road Work Ahead", but the cones were completely blocking the road. We suspect road damage and did not venture further.
Posted By: Tornadoman
Info: Made it to the trailhead and back in a Toyota Corolla. There are rough spots, some deep potholes, and a few rocky spots. We had no problems, and did not scrape bottom, etc. It took us about 30 minutes each way to do the final 4 miles to the trailhead, so expect a slow, careful ride if you are in a passenger vehicle!
Posted By: emgordon
Info: Take it slow in a low clearance vehicle, but anyone should be able to make it. It gets real busy so go early or late.
Posted By: supranihilest
Info: Clear and dry to the trailhead.
Posted By: screester
Info: Road plowed and dry all the way. Not too rough, saw 4 people in a Corolla Matrix at the trailhead.
Posted By: emgordon
Info: We parked approximately 4.5 miles from the summer trailhead. For the first 1/3 of the way, boots were fine. Then we reached a parked/stuck Ford about 3 miles from the summer TH and put on traction. This was good for about the next 1/3 until we encountered crusty/spring snow and put on snowshoes for the last 1/3 of the walk. You definitely need flotation past the summer TH, but we couldn’t find the true start of the trail, so don’t follow our tracks. The road is definitely not skiable without new snow, too many bare or icy spots. On the way down, we kept snowshoes on all the way to the Ford because it was softened up. Nice, scenic trip especially not seeing anyone else for most of the morning.
Posted By: dhaines
Info: With good, dry conditions, a 2WD sedan should make up to the trailhead with caution, slow speed to the LOWER parking lot (I’ve done it in a Honda Civic in 2011 & 2013). An AWD small SUV should be able to make it to the upper parking lot (I’ve done it it in mud/slush in 2015). The road is pretty rough just past the Hessie trailhead. If that makes you nervous then turn back. The road is calmer after that for a while, but gets just as rough and more as you get closer to the trailhead.
Attached is a photo of the UPPER parking lot on 10/24/2015. (Two sedans were in the lower parking lot).
Posted By: David Tennant
Info: Road was good all the way to the TH. There were 4-5 sections on the way there that looked rough but navigable with a passenger car, but literally the last few hundred feet convinced me that a passenger car is a bad idea. There‘s a huge rut and tree root sticking out the road which would most certainly give you a hard time, right as you are passing the outhouse, and just after the TH sign. I‘d only recommend a higher clearance vehicle.
Posted By: adrenalated
Info: Road is in good condition, better than I‘ve seen it in the past. Doable in a passenger car if you‘re careful, but better to take an Outback/crossover SUV or the like for a stress-free experience. Complete junkshow at the TH, as crowded as I‘ve ever seen it.
Posted By: jjb7733
Info: The road is open but it is in considerably worse condition than the last time I posted. The potholes are bigger and there are large puddles but the road is mostly clear of snow. I took an Xterra up this time, I would wait a couple more weeks before attempting this in a 2wd car. I took a splitboard with me but it was too spotty to skin up until getting close to tree line. Still a lot of fun, but snowshoes would be useful for the first 1.5 miles or so. Picture of the skin track posted.
Posted By: centrifuge
Info: I know the previous poster indicated he got a Jetta up there early in the season, but my Mazda 3 bottomed out in a way I wasn‘t willing to push any farther 1.8 miles up the road with no way to avoid it. If a person doesn‘t like their low clearance car you can probably get up to the trail head, but if you don‘t like the sound of metal on rock low clearance vehicles will struggle to get past some spots on this road.
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