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Nellie Creek Trailhead
Added by BillMiddlebrook

Location:  San Juan Mountains
14ers Served:  Uncompahgre Peak, Wetterhorn Peak
Road Type:  Moderate 4WD, long wheel base vehicles not recommended. Good clearance required. 4   (0=Paved, 6=Very Difficult 4WD)
2WD dirt to 9,300’ at the lower TH. 4WD to 11,400’ at the upper TH.
Directions:  From Lake City, turn west onto Second street. Drive 0.1 miles and turn left onto the Henson Creek road. This is the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway. Drive 5 miles to the sign for the Nellie Creek trail (#877). The sign is on the right. There are a few pull-offs along the road in this area. If you do not have a high-clearance 4WD vehicle, park on the Henson Creek road and hike up from here. Continue 4 miles up the Nellie Creek road to reach the trailhead. The road crosses a stream twice. 2.3 miles up this road there is a junction. Turn left and stay on the main road to reach the trailhead. The composting restroom which was provided by the US Forest Service has been CLOSED and is no longer functional. Please pack out human waste or bury it at least 200 feet away from any water source.
Winter Access:  Usually closed a short distance up the Henson Creek road - many miles from the TH.
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Date Status Information Posted By  Photos  Comments Likes Dislikes    
2009-10-26 Made it all the way to the Uncompahgre Peak parking lot on 10/23/09. Minimal snow/mud. Not a bad ride at all. Of course needed high clearance 4wd. New snow of late may have changed all of this. oldschool         
2009-07-06 Drove up 2 Jul with no problems in a 4runner. Some muddy spots due to recent rain & streams were easy to get through. Camped up close to trailhead in a great spot. If you‘re in Lake City for dinner, check out Restaurant & Cafe Sol. Delicious! I had the Virado a Paulista and my fiance had the Salmon Tapas. Both were great!! Mocha Moose Coffer around the corner has great Espresso and Coffee Milkshakes. theredmex         
2009-06-29 Free of snow. Streams are fast but no problems crossing. Watch for fallin rock. Ericjlindy         
2009-06-21 Clear and dry, no scrapes in stock XTerra. Dorje1018         
2009-06-01 Went up 5/28. Wet and muddy in a few spots, creeks are running high. Made it to 1st creek crossing in a stock Honda Pilot (scraped a few spots, but not bad). Higher clearance could probably make it to upper TH. Logs have been placed over creek to cross on foot. IWannaGoHigh         
2008-09-09 On 9/8/08 the road was a bit challenging but not bad with a high clearance 4WD. Nothing compared to S. Colony IMHO. Not sure how a Subaru would do but I‘d be comfortable with any 4WD truck or SUV on this road. The first 200 yards were representative of the rest of the road (though runoff could change that), so check this section out and decide if your vehicle is up to it. Note that the restroom at the upper trailhead is closed. The forest service sign says it‘s due to freezing temp‘s. But someone I spoke with in town said it was closed in July also. There is a public restroom facility on Henson Creek Rd. about 100 yards past the Nellie Creek turn off. Good camp sites at the upper trail head with even better sites a half mile below, where the road opens into a large meadow for the first time on the drive. Several other sites along the road as you drive up. pete         
2008-08-25 8/23/08: My view is that this road should not be attempted by a vehicle without considerably high clearance. It is steeper and rougher than I expected and the "speedbumps on steroids" are very large. I consider it almost as demanding on a vehicle as S. Colony Lakes. A vehicle with a long wheel base such as the Suburban I drove will hit bottom several times. But the reward of Uncompahgre is worth it! ronbco         
2008-08-17 8/15/2008 A little rougher than Matterhorn trail (the last 3 miles of Matterhorn anyway). The trail is steep and needs 4 wheel low to climb. 2 river crossings were negligable. Got a 2000 Dodge Durango up it with minor scraping. 3-Bean         
2008-07-16 I drove up the road on July 15th - - it took 45 minutes to drive from Lake City to the upper trailhead, in a stock 4Runner. The first river crossing (closest to Lake City) is currently the highest/the rest of the road is passable with some skillful driving. Watch out for the abundance of 4-wheelers. ChloeBlue         
2008-06-29 Slides were cleared and road was repaired this week. Passable now all the way to the TH in high clearance 4wd. Carl         
2008-06-22 Saturday June 21. Road open to road split at 2.3 miles (see route description). Beyond the split is a mud hole a short ways up which is pretty dry now and may or may not be passable and there will probably be more road work there. Quite a bit farther up there is a land slide that includes whole trees with roots and five feet of earth below the roots, making the road width about an axle width wide, with a drop to the stream to the left - this may take a while to get cleared. It took me about 45-50 minutes to walk from the road split to the regular trailhead. The crossing of Nellie Creek is not too bad but it is running pretty hard. Definitely 4WD vehicles with decent ground clearance only . robby40         
2008-05-23 Road still impassable by car. PKR         
2008-04-27 The road up to the 2WD section is bone dry. The actual 4WD drive road up to the 4WD trailhead is inpassable by any forms of transportation. The snow starts almost immediately and is consistent the complete 4 miles to the Trailhead. Snow ranges from 1-6 ft in places on the road. There are also 3 avalanches that are covering the road. One of them is at least 100ft long along the road. These will require Forest Service clearing. Expect at least Mid June before the snow completely melts. KirkT         
2007-10-28 Nellie Creek is in good shape for the first 2.3 miles, basically right to the road split mentioned in the trailhead directions. Above this the road is VERY icy in the morning. There is one spot in particular that was impassable and I had to back down the road to a small pullout and go back to the junction. Above that there were several other short sections of icy snow. The road MAY be drivable in the afternoon when softer, but my recommendation is to stop at the road split and hike the extra 1 3/4 miles. Hey look at the bright side, you can get 3000' on your ascent that way! Chicago Transplant         
2007-09-27 Dry. On the way up I met a party on horseback coming down... don't drive in a manner that might spook horses. Strangely, the toilet at the trailhead was locked. TravelingMatt         
2007-06-24 The tree is gone, but a boulder has fallen in a narrow, semi-exposed spot somewhere the big creek crossing. Two strong people could move the rock if it's still there. Matt         
2007-06-21 I easily drove around the tree on 6/14 and it was removed by the time I drove out on 6/15. otr13         
2007-06-05 Road is clear all the way to the trailhead. Near the top of the road was a large fallen tree that required negotiation around. CRAIGO         
2007-05-19 Made it 2.6 miles in, just shy of 2nd creek crossing. cjw         
2007-05-03 Drove to the 2.2 mile mark (1.8 from TH) last weekend in a Landcruiser. First stream crossing is easily forded, didn't make it to the second one. No more trees in the road, tore 2 of them out. Stopped at a switchback a ways past the stream crossing, got the Toyota stuck and had to tow out w/ Xterra and then camped there. Probably won't be accessible till later in May or early June. If you have time and interest, you can work on the snowbanks, but with the incline and the road passed, its probably safest to just stop, camp and hike an extra 1.8 miles. lordhelmut         
2006-08-22 As of 8/18/2006 there are sections of the 4WD road to the Nellie Creek TH (between the 2 stream crossings) that have humongously huge and deep mud wallows because of the almost daily rain. Pick your line carefully to avoid bottoming out in these sections. contour900         
2005-07-10 Road is open to the upper trailhead. It has some rough, narrow sections and some tight switchbacks. Short, 4WD vehicle recommended. BillMiddlebrook         

July 2008 – typical section of Nellie Creek Road (Added by: majordan on 2009-06-03)July 2008 – switchback are kind of tight (Added by: majordan on 2009-06-03)July 2008 – creek crossing (Added by: majordan on 2009-06-03)Trailhead parking.   The Subaru made it OK.   Don‘t know how though. (Added by: majordan on 2009-06-03)The 2WD Trailhead. There is a restroom 100 yards up the road. (Added by: BillMiddlebrook on 2010-04-16)The start of the Nellie Creek 4WD road. (Added by: BillMiddlebrook on 2010-04-16)Nellie Creek TH in spring (Added by: BillMiddlebrook on 2010-09-05)

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