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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    
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         
2009-08-05 Roughly .7 miles after leaving the pavement (just beyond the first designated campsite) the road becomes much steeper and has large enough rocks to prevent passenger car travel. Dorje1018         
2009-08-01 We were able to make it all the way to 12,800 parking lot on the road in a stock Jeep Cherokee. As for the "washed out bridge" it only had a 3 foot section missing on one of the boards. Someone had even put a rock in the hole so it was a non-issue. TI83plus         
2009-07-12 The bridge that is out is about .3 miles from the 4WD TH. Several cars (Range Rover, Jeep) made it over the washed out bridge and all the way up to 12,800. It did not seem as bad today as in previous pictures (maybe the stream level was just lower) but no water was coming over the bridge. geno71         
2009-06-27 The Bridge is out below the waterfall. Got washed out during the rain, last couple days. So You‘re walking from Mace Hut. Jcwhite         
2009-06-21 4wd with high clearance can make it to 12,200‘. At this point there is a snowdrift and a large boulder blocking the road. SkiNowWorkLater         
2009-06-06 Clear to the wooden bridge before the switchbacks below the Pearl Pass road junction. BillMiddlebrook         
2009-05-28 The below mentioned snowbank has been driven through and should be significantly easier to navigate, though I wouldn‘t do it w/out some clearance still. AlexMack         
2009-05-19 Road is bone dry to the 1st creek crossing. About 50 yards past there is a long snowbank, blocking access for any kind of vehicle. All the cars parked at or behind the bridge. But after this initial snowbank, there is a solid mile or 2 of drivable road. Once that snowbank melts to the point where 4wd cars can squeeze by, you‘ll be able to get a good ways up the road. lordhelmut         
2008-09-08 As of 9/5/08: Road gets very rough almost immediately as mentioned in below post- I wouldn‘t plan on going far up it in a passenger car that you care about. Most stock, well driven, 4WDs can make it to the end if you want to. A few (4-5) dicey switchbacks at 3+ miles in, but that‘s the worst. You‘ll need to pick your line carefully on these switchbacks. Creek crossing is currently easy but a couple of big rocks to dodge, esp when coming in. Steve_P         
2008-08-04 Most 2WD cars, driven carefully, can make the first half-mile. Personally, I wouldn't go any further than that. The stream crossing was no problem, though care must be taken on the exit. Water level was fine. After about 2.5 miles the road becomes rougher. As I recall, there were at least three or four rough sections that may give you pause, especially if you're in a stock truck like I was. At about 3.8 miles, or so (my odometer isn't precise and my wheels did some spinning), there's a washed-out section on the shelf road that has been crudely reinforced. Going up it was a little dicey, especially due to the fact that I don't have lockers so my wheels spun a bit (and any error would have sent us tumbling hundreds of feet down the slope). Going down that section, by the way, wasn't a problem. It looked like snow blocked the last section of road, so I stopped at the last switchback (12,550' / below the Montezuma Mine) so that I didn't drive all the way up there just to find the road blocked, and then have to back up the whole way down (on that sketchy shelf road, no less). As it turned out, the road is clear all the way to the upper "parking lot." One lone Toyota was parked there. Overall, it took us about 50 minutes to drive from the beginning of the dirt road to the switchback at 12,550'. Aubrey         
2008-07-13 Here‘s your 7/11 update: Creek crossing at the bottom was not a problem (in terms of water flow) at 4:30 p.m. Snow blocks the road about 1/2 to 2/3 mile before the mine. We made it quite a bit past the Pearl Pass turnoff. Matt         
2008-06-29 Was on Castle yesterday. Most of the snow has melted off the road up until you hit just above treeline and the avalanche debri has been moved. There was even a Toyota above treeline just as you start climbing up Montezuma road to the basin. mjlucarelli         
2008-06-14 There is still snow on the far bank of the creek crossing making driving across the creek still impossible. After the stream crossing the trail/road remains littered with amazing amounts of avalanche debris. Freeze         
2008-06-08 The avalanche debris has been cut back, but still can scrape your car and tires as you pass by. You can drive to 10,200 to the creek crossing. Marcia         
2008-06-01 Significant avalanche debris blocks the road at 9,800ft. Continuous snow begining at the creek crossing at 10,200ft. Carl         
2008-05-16 The road has been plowed and the gate is open. May 16, 2008 Britette         
2008-05-12 road still closed at gate- road still completely snow covered from ashcroft tmahon         
2007-07-18 Like the previous post, the 4x4 road is passable all the way to the mine. The water level in the stream crossings is down now. Bugs are bad. Kiefer         
2007-07-02 As of 7/2/7, everything is melted from the road. If you really want, you can drive to the mine, and even beyond to the road's end at the lake about 1/2 mile further up. Today most vehicles stopped at the 2nd or third stream crossings. The lower stream crossing (the most serious one) is easy. The water is fast, but not especially deep. The bigger challenge is climbing down into, and up out of, the streambed. There is about a 2 ft. drop off to enter the stream while going uphill, and an even bigger climb when exiting on the far side. But in 4WD, not a problem. I didn't even use low-range today on our little Mercedes ML320 V6. philbucher         
2007-06-21 The road is now passable until around 12300'. Today a jeep busted through several drifts, making it to the Montezuma Mine (~12400'). Beyond the mine, several large drifts are impassable. I doubt they'll be melted for several more weeks. Gahugafuga         
2007-06-18 With a standard 4wd you can make it to the 11,200 parking lot. There still is some shallow snow to cross, but previous tracks allow you to make it. The creek crossing is about 12-14" and pretty swift. Loose rocks in the creek make it a little harder to get traction. If you see any boots at the upper parking area, they're mine. (see lost and found) :-) mountainmatt         
2007-06-12 6/9/2007: Could drive to 10,800' on the road. billmiddlebrook         
2007-05-28 Drove my car up to Campsite #2 on Saturday. Hiked up the road and saw that it is passable by 4x4s up to about 10,500 feet. The road is mostly snow covered beyond that. joe-g         

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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