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Castle Creek Trailhead
Added by BillMiddlebrook

Location:  Elk Mountains
14ers Served:  Castle Peak, Conundrum Peak
Road Type:  Moderate 4WD, long wheel base vehicles not recommended. Good clearance required. 4   (0=Paved, 6=Very Difficult 4WD)
2WD paved access to 9,750’ from the north via Castle Creek road out of Aspen.
Rough, Rocky 2WD access to approx. 9,900’ by turning right on the dirt road at the end of Castle Creek road. This road continues into Castle Creek.
4WD access to 12,800’ by following the same road up past the Montezuma Mine and into a basin north of Castle Peak. Note: Near 11,100’ there is a road junction. Stay right to continue toward Montezuma Mine. Turning left will take you toward Pearl Pass.
Directions:  Take Castle Creek from the roundabout just west of the center of Aspen. Drive 12.5 miles (paved) to the Castle Creek trailhead. To the right, Forest Road (FR) 102 continues all all the way to 12,800’. Good-clearance passenger cars can drive about 1 mile up this road to reach the dispersed camp sites along the road. If you want to shorten your hike by parking higher, you must have a 4WD vehicle with good clearance. From the lower trailhead parking area, proceed 1.3 miles to a river crossing. In spring and early summer, this crossing is a challenge for some 4WD vehicles. Continue another 1.7 miles up FR 102 to a junction. Left will take you up the nasty Pearl Pass 4WD road. Staying right will keep you on the Castle Creek 102 road. If you drove up this far, there are a few parking spots near the junction. The road gets worse as it ascends into Montezuma Basin all the way to 12,800’.
Winter Access:  Closed at the start of the dirt road.
14er Trailheads on Google Maps
Date Status Information Posted By  Photos  Comments Likes Dislikes    
2012-04-28 Open to the first creek crossing with the pedestrian bridge. Road seems rougher than in years past and I wouldn‘t want to take a 2wd or low clearance vehicle to the first creek crossing! Still lots of snow past the first creek crossing, took skis off twice and walked across dirt/rocks twice. But I think some other sections will melt out soon. cheeseburglar         
2011-12-03 Road is closed at Ashcroft Ghost town AspenEx         
2011-10-14 The road is still clear of any snow and ice up to the creek crossing with the foot bridge. This is just past campsite #7, so all the official campsites are still easily accessed with a somewhat high clearance 2wd (ie my 2wd Ford Escape and I got to site 7). Past the creek with the foot bridge is another issue. Compacted ice covers about 65% of the road up to the Pearl Pass turnoff. I saw a jeep with hefty chains parked up at about 11,200 and the highest I saw any vehicle tracks was 12,100. Up and down past the footbridge would be a bobsled run for most vehicles. Barrett Cooper  1       
2011-09-03 From paved road to the first creek crossing, about a mile in: The guides say this is doable in a 2wd car, but a 2wd truck would be better. I drug my Enclave over a rock on the way in and out. It is pretty flat, and 4wd is not needed. We stopped at the first creek crossing. From there, the hike was about 13 miles round trip. From the creek crossing to just past Pearl Pass Bridge: If your vehicle can make it across the creek, the next really challenging section is about another mile away. The least capable vehicles I saw go through the creek were a Mercury Mariner (Ford Escape) and the latest model Honda Pilot. The creek was maybe 9" deep in the morning and afternoon. The Hard Part: About 200 yards past Pearl Pass Bridge, the road turns hard left and goes sharply uphill. There are some big rocks and ruts in the way. A recent trip report has a picture of them. Once you get past this section, getting to end of the road is easier. I saw a stock Jeep, stock Forerunner (3rd newest generation), and stock old Chevy Blazer past this point. Low range for this section would be helpful. I was shocked to see that the newest model Honda Pilot made it past this point. I wouldn‘t recommend that. There is parking for about 3 cars just before this section. Cars that didn‘t attempt it included a Murano and an Xterra. I think the Xterra could have done it. At one point, the stream runs down the trail/road. Go straight up this section a few hundred yards and veer to the right. Once you get to the end of the road, there is plenty of parking. Also, the last good bathroom is about two miles before the trailhead on the east side of the road. It‘s a vault toilet that is part of a park. It‘s easily visible if you look for it. DaVikes         
2011-07-29 4-WD creek crossing in good shape--with proper clearance. Avoid large rock at lower entrance to creek crossing. Creek crossing was a little higher in the afternoon..water running down lower portions of lower Montezuma Road; Snow still in basin area.. chasrobt  2       
2011-07-16 Handled the creek crossing today at 0500 with an 1100 return. I had no problems in my stock Jeep Liberty. The Pearl Pass intersection is still the "end of the road" for now with river/snow cover up higher. Beautiful day on Castle & Conundrum with great glissading. jrb6907         
2011-07-12 Same condition as reported by Dick on 7/9. We made it to the first turn in the road after the second creek crossing. Above this point the road is a river. Stream crossing was intense but doable. Gopherboy  1       
2011-07-09 we made it to around 11,000 feet (just past a bridge over Castle creek (more like a raging river) with a huge waterfall on the left side). Creek crossing was easy (Sequoia and a good driver). Above 11,000 feet the road is a river and judging by the amount of snow still hanging around it‘ll be that way for some time. Dick         
2011-07-07 Only made it to first creek crossing as 10,200‘ which was flowing WAY to high for my Dakota. Watched a full sized pickup cross comming down in the afternoon and it was almost too much for him. Flow increased several inches from morning to afternoon. YEONDERIN         
2011-06-24 Pretty much the same as the previous updates. There is avalanche debris not too far past the first stream crossing. Not much point in driving through the stream even if you can. The road is picked up again by angling slightly RIGHT after you loose it in the snow. It pretty much follows the stream. Significant avalanche debris (trees) in several locations on the road and then you pretty much totally lose the road in the snow a little after the Pearl Pass junction. Lots of snow! Conundrum Couloir was still in great condition and the glissades down from the saddle and below were pretty good. Check the jameseroni TR for some nice pics of different parts of the route. unclegar         
2011-06-18 Last update still accurate, you can drive a little ways past the first creek crossing but after that there are still some deep patches of snow in the trees that will likely take a couple weeks to melt. There is also substantial avalanche debris that will take a few weeks to melt. The debris includes lots of trees that will need to be removed. As for the 4wd road to the upper basin, this is buried quickly after the avalanche debris and I would guess it will be at least three weeks before this is clear, possibly longer with cooler weather. RJansen77         
2011-06-11 Road is mostly dry up to the first creek crossing. Just after the first creek crossing you can make it a couple hundred yards higher but then there are some drifts, which should melt soon. The bad news is that there was a huge avalanche covering the road about a half mile above the first creek crossing and continuous snow after that. It will be a while before this melts out. CODave    2      
2011-06-04 Snow starts a few hundred yards after the road turns to dirt but with a decent SUV or truck you can make it to the first switchback in the road - there was a lot of melting on Saturday so you should be able to get a bit higher by next weekend. Road is in pretty good shape and should be fine for any stock 4wd vehicle. hberry         
2011-05-28 Snow drifts start immediately after the paved road, continuous snow after the first creek crossing 1.3 miles in. No big suprise but it is going to be a while before you can even get to the 1st creek. nebraskaflatlander         
2011-05-15 Gate at Ashcroft is open and plowed to the 4WD road. The road has continuous snow starting here. ScottN         
2010-07-30 Drove a lightly modified xterra to the top of the road on Friday night. The road was in good shape for wheeling with very few loose areas and only a few really large rocks in the way that couldn‘t be bypassed. If you‘re going to attempt the drive up I suggest a minimum of 31" tires and some skid plates. I feel pretty sure my skids and sliders took some modest hits along the way. There were a couple of sections above 11.5K feet that looked as if the slope had slid onto the road creating situations that felt a bit tippy. Nothing that couldn‘t be overcome though with careful wheel placement. Feel free to shoot me a PM if you are thinking about driving up there this summer and want any extra info. Cruiser  1       
2010-07-06 We arrived Castle Creek rd on Friday (2 July) and were greeted with the recent "Bear Incident" signs and the pink tape across the campsites. We drove my Tacoma passed the 1st stream crossing with no problem and parked at the top of the hill after the 2nd stream crossing with the bridge. We slept in my truck for the night due to the bear activity. Hiked Castle the next morning with perfect weather and we‘re joined by quite a few others. Snow was soft for the climb and nice for the glissade down. Thankfully all the rain had passed thru the day before. theredmex         
2010-07-04 Some campsites on the upper approach are closed but this information is sketchy: "Camping spots on upper Castle Creek Road were closed by the U.S. Forest Service Friday after a black bear invaded tents to get food Wednesday night and Thursday. When a bear attacked a tent at an unoccupied campsite on Thursday, agency officials decided to close the spaces rather than take chances. There is no campground in the area that was closed but designated campsites are scattered along the gravel portion of upper Castle Creek Road." see article here: http://www.aspentimes.com/article/20100703/NEWS/100709944/1001&parentprofile=1058 DrDenbo         
2010-06-26 Got a stock (with slightly taller tires) 2000 Nissan Pathfinder up to the 2nd switchback after the 2nd stream crossing (11,100ft?). The first stream crossing was over knee deep on the way back in mid-afternoon, but vehicles will actually straddle the deep section so the current has no affect. Saw several vehicles up there, some parked further than mine and a Jeep Wranger 4 door actually made it to 12,600ft or so. yosemite98         
2010-06-05 last update is current, but now you can drive a bit further past the "river" crossing, up to 10500‘. If you aren‘t comfortable with how high the water is running in the morning, don‘t cross the creek. It gets higher! Boggy B         
2010-05-16 Road is completely dry on the north bank of the creek all the way to the foot bridge where it crosses over to the south bank. From there, the road is dry for less than 1/4 mile and then becomes snow for the remainder of the route. luca_brasi         
2010-05-09 Made it .6 of a mile past the transition to dirt in a stock Toyota Tacoma. Should be albe to make the 1st creek crossing in a week or 2. Didn‘t get Castle due to large amounts of slide activity on Malamute Peak centrifuge         
2010-04-24 Parked at the lower TH, just past Ashcroft. A decent amount of new snow fell overnight, but now its apparently sunny and 60 degrees, so I imagine a lot of it melted. Wasn‘t incredibly deep, maybe 7-8 inches. There were tire tracks even further past the lower TH, not sure how much further they made it though, 4 other cars in the parking lot, 3 sedans, 1 truck. Lots of snow and wind on top of hard surface, bailed on Conundrum climb. lordhelmut         
2010-04-20 Road still closed at standard winter TH at the Ashcroft Ghost town tmahon         
2009-08-10 Bridge is repaired, made it to upper parking at 12,800 in stock 4runner with no issues. Shad         

The 2WD trailhead. (Added by: billmiddlebrook on 2007-06-12)A closer look at the start of the Castle Creek Road (FR 102) (Added by: billmiddlebrook on 2007-06-12)The stream crossing at 10,200‘ – 1.3 miles up the road (Added by: billmiddlebrook on 2007-06-12)stream crossing on 6/6/10.  For reference Bronco has 6" lift and 35s on it. (Added by: summitbound on 2010-06-08)

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