Rockdale Trailhead
Added by BillMiddlebrook

Location:  Sawatch Range
14ers Served:  Missouri Mountain, Huron Peak
Road Type:  Moderate 4WD, long wheel base vehicles not recommended. Good clearance required. 4   (0=Paved, 6=Very Difficult 4WD)
2WD dirt access to the Rockdale turn-off. Narrow, Rough 4WD to 11,040' below Cloyses Lake. In spring and early summer, the river crossings after Rockdale can be very difficult and dangerous. Short wheelbase and high clearance required.
Directions:  From Leadville: Drive 20 miles south on U.S. 24 and turn right on the Chaffee County 390 road. From Buena Vista: Drive 14.5 miles north on U.S. 24 and turn left on the Chaffee County 390 road.

On the 390 road, drive about 9.6 miles and turn left into Rockdale (an old abandoned town). Drive down past 4 old cabins and then left near a 5th. If you don't have a high-clearance, short, 4WD vehicle, park in this area. Even with the right 4WD vehicle, driving through the upcoming water is not recommended until after July, when the water levels are lower. It's a 3 mile walk to the end of the road, near Clohesy Lake.

Follow the road through shallow water to Clear Creek. You must now cross two streams. First, cross Clear Creek to gain higher ground between the two streams. Then, cross the Lake Fork stream. Taken in September, 2007, here is a video of the stream crossings.

After the water, continue 2.6 miles to a large parking area at 10,880'. Most 4WDers park here, but it's possible to continue another 0.3 miles to a gate, near 11,040' (3 miles from Rockdale).
Winter Access:  Closed near 9,200 feet - many miles below the TH.
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Date Status Information Posted By  Photos  Comments Likes Dislikes    
2008-11-23 Rockdale will soon be done for the season unless you have a snowmobile. The first river crossing was iced over. My 4runner is light so I broke through the first layer of ice but not the second. The road has quite a bit of snow and fallen trees that we moved but a fullsize truck would have difficulty getting past. There are a few badly iced areas that require careful attention to avoid falling off th eraod. On the way out I broke through the ice at the crossing and it was quite deep still. Almost had to winch out but the old toyota pulled through. jrsummit         
2008-09-06 As of 9-5-2008, stream crossing is very low - easily crossed by any high clearance vehicle. The road on the other hand is pretty bad, very careful driving needed for even high clearance vehicles. (Seems to have gotten worse since earlier this summer.) Derek         
2008-08-23 Road open to Cloyses Lake Trailhead, High clearance needed to cross Clear Creek. Road up to Cloyses Lake TH is rough and recommend high clearance. Pappy         
2008-07-13 Trail head fine for moderately high clearance vehicles. Both river crossings were running fast but easily crossed with a large 4x4, may be scary in small SUVs, not advised for AWD wagons or SUVs. Road clear to trailhead, but road is very bumpy and rutted, beware. jrsummit         
2008-06-01 Drivable with high clearance 4WD to about 10450‘ (~1 mile above Clear Creek). Fording the creek is getting exciting and may be too deep for comfort for mere mortals very soon. Continuous snow starting from 4WD TH. scotthsu         
2008-05-25 Last post still accurate. A Dodge Ram had crossed the creek but was stopped within 300 yards by drifts. Snow is continuous the second half of the road. Wisco         
2008-05-19 Clear all the way. Water is about a foot deep crossing clear creak. Snow is apparent about 300 yards up the trail. Snow shoes are a must. catfish hank         
2008-05-18 Road is clear all the way to Missouri Gulch TH. mtnbikerskierchick         
2008-04-27 Road is impassable ~3.5 miles from the Missouri Gulch trailhead; the snow looks to be 18-24" deep for as far up the road as I could see. KeithK         
2007-11-13 11/11/07...Parked our truck on side of 390 near Rockdale. Took atv to trailhead. Road was pretty much dry. Clear Creek was very passable for most 4wd vehicles. Deepest part was the end of the first crossing..probably 2ft deep. Stay to the left. Dad Mike         
2007-08-18 Made it across fine on 8/12/07 in stock Land Cruiser. Videos of the crossing (that match some of the photos below) are at bdavis         
2007-07-01 Made it all the way up to the top in my 4x4 F-150, creek is flowing pretty good but the road is snow free, so anyone with decent clearance and 4wd should be able to make it to the trailhead. mjlucarelli         
2007-04-09 Open. BillMiddlebrook         
2006-07-23 7/22/06: Spoke to a ranger (on the phone) and confirmed that the Rockdale TH (road to Cloyses Lake) was indeed open. The ranger I spoke with (on 7/21) said that Clear Creek was still "flowing pretty good." The first section of water had a stable rock bottom (i.e., no mud) ... crunched over a small log jam, then some water and another log jam before entering the main section of Clear Creek. Clear creek was flowing good. I should've went further left (closer to the rock fall) but instead I naturally cut a straight path toward the bank ... and I ran into a dangerously deep section (the water line came up to the top of my Xterra's front bumper) ... but I somehow made it across. The second section of Clear Creek was short, shallow and easy, though there were some slippery rocks to contend with on the bank. The road to the TH was rocky and there were a lot of up-and-downs (many chances to become high centered in a small SUV/truck or long-wheel-based SUV/truck). One or two rocky sections recquired some planning. Nothing overly challenging for an experienced off-roader or someone in a jacked-up 4x4. This road is much worse than Uncompahgre's or Huron's, as a reference. Aubrey         
2006-06-21 Not open yet - high river waters and some beaver build-up is preventing most access. BillMiddlebrook         
2005-05-22 I drove the Clear Creek road today, and the road is clear and passable for all vehicles. The creek is extremely high at this time due to runoff, crossing is not recommended at this time Chicago Transplant         

On the rough Rockdale road after leaving the main road (Added by: BillMiddlebrook on 2006-06-21)Down the hill past the buildings, this is the start of the river crossing (Added by: BillMiddlebrook on 2006-06-21)Large section of Clear Creek (on the way up). Shallowest section is to the left. (Added by: Aubrey on 2006-07-24)A stock Land Cruiser on the shorter crossing (8/12/07) (Added by: bdavis on 2007-08-18)Careful where you‘s deep in spots (just to the right of the exi (Added by: bdavis on 2007-08-18)The longer stream crossing (on the return home) (Added by: bdavis on 2007-08-18)1st crossing all ice on 11/22/08 (Added by: JMB on 2008-12-10)large water crossing 8/1/09, stay left of island on way up to TH (Added by: mtnklutz on 2009-08-01)8/1/09 (Added by: mtnklutz on 2009-08-01)First River Crossing (Added by: sad2 on 2010-10-10)2nd River Crossing (Added by: sad2 on 2010-10-10)

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