Grays Peak Trailhead


Road Difficulty

2WD, rough dirt road 2   (0=Paved, 6=Very Difficult 4WD)
Normally it's Rough 2WD to the TH but some years it gets rough and might require 4WD. It always requires good-clearance.

Driving Directions

Take I-70 to the Bakerville exit (#221). Leave the highway and drive south over to the dirt parking area near the start of Forest Road 189. This is the winter trailhead and even if the upper road is open, low-clearance passenger cars should park here. It's almost 3 miles to the summer trailhead. Continue up the Grays Peak (189) road. After 1 mile, stay straight at a junction. Continue another 2 miles to the trailhead, at 11,280'. There are restrooms and a few dispersed camping spots near the parking area.

Winter Access

Closed at the start of the 189 road, near I-70.
Status Updates 
Posted By: supranihilest
Info: Rough and rocky but a couple of people drove sedans to the trailhead, though I don’t think driving a low-clearance vehicle that far is a good idea. 4WD not needed.
Posted By: RJ_Greenhorn24
Info: Rocky as usual but nothing too bad, any higher clearance 4wd vehicle can make it to the TH (my stock 05’ SR5 4Runner did just fine). Would advise going up the night before because the TH was filling up by 10pm Friday night when we arrived and the next day people were parked nearly a mile down the road on our way out. Lots of people!
Posted By: dlnelson
Info: *** BEWARE***

Parked along the road about 1/2 mile from trail head on Saturday morning around 7 am. Returned 6 hours later from nice day bagging both peaks to find out someone had siphoned all my gas from my F-150. I had parked facing downhill so the gas tank access was on the forest side instead of the road side and made it more convenient for the #$@%^*& to siphon the gas. Luckily they left me 12 miles worth of gas and I was able to bounce down the road and coast down I-70 to Georgetown with 2 miles of gas to spare.

Posted By: Fairwind
Info: By now, everyone should be aware of the approaching bad weather..The area is a natural snow-trap and you would be well advised to be out of this location by Monday , Sept 7, night or risk being trapped by heavy snow...
Posted By: chassis
Info: Trailhead and parking areas are in great shape. The trail is well marked.

The road leading to the trailhead is poor, rather dire. The road is horrible. A Toyota Corolla and Ford Focus were in the upper parking lot. I would not do this drive with a Corolla or Focus, but they made it. Recent repairs on the road seem to have been eroded from rain the night of 8/31. We did a scouting drive at 2:00pm on 8/31 and it was bad, then we drove our main hike on 9/1 at 4:30am, and the road was worse. The main issues are rocks emerging from the road surface, grapefruit-sized loose rocks everywhere, ruts, gullies and potholes, plus the general steepness/incline.

Ground clearance of 8 inches is plenty. 7 inches clearance is probably OK. Less than 7 inches an you risk bottoming out. Bottoming out happens when the driver is travelling at higher speed than is necessary. My average speed was 5mph going up. 7mph going down.

Vehicles that should be able to make it to the top in my opinion, provided the driver knows what he/she is doing:

Small SUVs: Honda HR-V, Honda CR-V, most Subarus, Buick Encore and similar, Toyota RAV4, BMW X3, Audi Q5
Mid-size SUVs: Toyota 4Runner, Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, Ford Explorer, Mercedes GLE, BMW X5, Audi Q7, Land Rover, Range Rover Discovery, Jeep Wrangler, Chevrolet Traverse
Large SUVs, midsize pickup trucks and pickup trucks: all should be OK
Posted By: vmunson
Info: Made it to the top in a stock Jeep Cheroke, no problems. At the top were the usual crowd.. any four wheel drive, SUV type cars. Did see three sedans at the top parking lot (including a brand new Audi) and was very confused how they made it, I would not recommend it. We got to the trailhead at 5:45am Sunday 8/30 and were still about the fifth car back that didn’t make it to the spot in the main lot.
Posted By: Thevirtualsherpa
Info: Just commenting on the previous road status and can confirm its in pretty good shape. I honestly found the lower part (pic below) to be the worst on my legacy. Lots of baby heads that move as well. Doesnt look like any other grading will be done but for now, 99% of cars should be able to get to the upper TH with some good navigating.
Posted By: glenmiz
Info: Clear Creek County has been out with a grader in the past two weeks and was there today. The worst part of the road from my trip two weeks ago was the steep section which veers left at one of the cabins. That section has been graded and it’s as smooth as I’ve ever seen it. The upper part of the road has had significant effort and is much better than two weeks ago. The grader was on the lower section today.

I saw a Subaru STI in the main parking area today (low clearance) so the road is "good enough". I wouldn’t take my WRX up, though.
Posted By: Zamallamadingdong
Info: Went up the Gray’s road with a 2016 Subaru Outback. The hump is not a joke, but it’s definitely very doable for most higher vehicles. I got stuck about 4x before finally gaining traction at the one famous point. You will see a line of cars when you get there - only one can go through at once. I would advise leaving traction control on but do NOT engage the X-mode that supposedly helps you did not help in this scenario at all. You are going to struggle with an Outback, Crosstrek, or Forrester...I watched a Forrester before me bouncing up and down after also getting stuck. Heck, I even saw a 4runner get stuck when we were descending. You can do it but if you don’t have at LEAST a Jeep Cherokee’s clearance (8.2"), you are going to get stuck and tick off a LOT of people because of that line behind you.
Posted By: MrJohnnySpot
Info: Just want to reiterate how bad the road is right now. I would only recommend 4WD with decent clearance to try to get to the upper TH. I was up on 8/11 as well and just in the last 11 days it’s deteriorated noticeably--likely because there are AWD cars trying to get past the, now, 4WD sections and are unable to make it, further deepening the ruts. Please don’t be the car that’s inevitably going to get stuck there--watching higher clearance (than most Subies) AWD vehicles spin their wheels with one or more tires off the ground is frustrating for everyone involved, just park lower if you must go do these peaks this year. Just for further backup, I saw a number of 4WD capable trucks and SUVs (Wranglers, Jeeps, Full-size Trucks) that all chose to not try it, if you’re not sure you can make it, it’s not worth trying as you may get stuck and you’ll definitely worsen the road.

FWIW: I’ve been up this road 3 times in 2020 and at least once for the past 8 years and this is by far the worst condition I’ve seen it in.
Posted By: psa954hiker
Info: We just went up and down that road today. As previously reported, the road turns nasty just past the Airbnb place. Multiple vehicles parked below that point. We made it through in a high clearance 4WD pickup. Some people gave up and just parked at the beginning of the road. I didn’t see anything less than a high clearance 4WD past the Airbnb. However, on the way down, someone (the owner of the Airbnb?) was filling one of the big holes with rocks in an attempt to make it more passable. Crazy busy there on a Saturday. We had to fold our side mirrors in just to squeeze through vehicles parked on both sides.
Posted By: davebelin
Info: I haven’t been up this road in 15 years, and I don’t know what if any maintenance has been done to it recently. But the section just past the airbnb on the right was in terrible shape, with big rocks, very loose soil, and huge holes. I didn’t make it up in my Subaru Outback, though there were other Subarus in the parking lot when we got there. Anyway, just thought I ’d add how rough shape the road is in.
Posted By: KyZei15
Info: The road to the TH is in rough shape, however any vehicle with at least 8 inches of clearance should be able to navigate the holes, cuts and boulders. At around 2 miles it gets really dicey. You’ll start to see about 50-100 yards of mini craters and boulders that are manageable if you keep consistent speed and hug the right side of the road. After that it’s better until the trailhead.

The trailhead itself is fine, but if you aren’t there by 4:00 am (on a Saturday at least), consider parking down the road or at the bottom. We arrived at 4:40 and the parking lot was nearly completely full.
Posted By: Buckie06
Info: Very tough for 2wd sedans, I would not recommend going further than the Airbnb on the right of the road. There were maybe 3-4 parking spots left in the upper lot by 9pm Friday night.
Posted By: bassisbeautiful
Info: **Do not attempt in lower clearance vehicle**
Barely made it to Upper Trailhead in my old Ford Fiesta. Bottomed out 3 times on the way up.
Once ascending past the Lower Trailhead stay to the far right for the majority of the time as the ruts/potholes/rocks are nearly impossible for lower clearance vehicles to maneuver around. The Bad Spot by the run-down house is where I bottomed out 3 times, having to reverse out of the section each time until finding the far right side barely passable.
This road needs resurfacing/major pothole filling and until then its driving difficulty should be significantly raised on this site.
Posted By: hikerjess
Info: After reading some other reviews about the road, I was a little nervous about trying to get up there, but it was not nearly as bad as I thought. Drove my 2wd Yota Sequoia up this road Thursday evening to camp at the trailhead before hiking Grays & Torrey’s on Friday and it didn’t struggle once. There are a few deep ruts and lots of large rocks in the road, but nothing an SUV/Truck/crossover couldn’t handle. Just watch your line! I will say the way back down was PACKED with cars parked as far as almost 2 miles down the road from the trailhead. If you are one of these people, PLEASE be considerate of others trying to drive down and possible emergency vehicles trying to get up. The road was dry and whatever problem spots noted before have been fixed. Also- 14ers is working on the trail up, make sure to give a thanks and be courteous of their work Safe hiking!!
Posted By: Fairwind
Info: July 16. The road is still rough but for what it’s worth, today, I saw a Mini-Cooper carefully coming back down from the upper trail-head...
Posted By: tdurty
Info: Just want to reiterate that whatever bad spots existed before have been fixed. No problems getting to upper TH in a Subaru Crosstrek. Saw several other AWD/crossovers at TH today as well. Did not see any 2WD at upper TH.
Posted By: rkohler
Info: Full trailhead today, cars parked ~3/4 mile down the road. Bathrooms open and relatively clean. Getting to the TH has some very rough sections but can be pretty much avoided by taking it easy.
Posted By: Fairwind
Info: Apparently the county has made some emergency repairs to "The Bad Spot" to allow access for their emergency vehicles and the truck that services the pit toilet at the upper trail-head..
Posted By: keatonmoney
Info: As others have said, road is extremely rough. We made it without issue in a Subaru Crosstrek. Didn’t scrape or bottom out. I would say having a truck/jeep/4runner is ideal, Subarus and the like will get you by, 2WD and low clearance cars not recommended. I did see one intrepid individual made it up to the top in a Chevy Aveo. Braver than I.
Posted By: knockouts
Info: The 4WD road to Gray’s and Torrey’s is extremely rough, and declining as each new vehicle gives it a go...we bottomed out a Subaru Crosstrek and Honda CRV. The cars we saw at the trailhead were mostly trucks. We also saw a few cars coming back down with parts dangling off the bottoms of their vehicles- be careful! Plan on adding an extra few miles to your hike!
Posted By: Agstrohmeier
Info: Rough section of road is driving more like a 3-4 (per the 14ers scale) than the usual 2. But no trouble in a stock 2002 4runner. Mostly higher clearance vehicles beyond, but a couple rav4s and Ford escape size vehicles. If you decide to park before it, please be curteous... Could barely fit through on the way out, no way an emergency vehicle is getting up there.
Posted By: hogantheepic
Info: The road leading up to the trailhead is pretty rough but doable. The deep ruts you’ll find about halfway up can be done, but I would only suggest it to a car with AWD/4WD capabilities because of how deep it is. Take it easy and don’t bottom out (although this is pretty difficult to do). Other than the rut, the road is bumpy but 100% doable by pretty much any car. The trailhead itself fills up pretty quick even on weekdays, but there’s a lot of places to park.
Posted By: Fairwind
Info: On Wednesday June 24 at noon, was unable to get past "the bad spot" on Josephine Hill, 2 miles up from the bottom. Vehicle was a new 4-Runner high clearance 4WD SUV.. We drove up in this same vehicle a week ago with no problems.. The road had deteriorated markedly ..Today, this section of road had stopped at least 20 vehicles, many of them capable high-clearance 4-WD SUV’s and trucks..These vehicles had simply managed to turn around and park near where they had stalled making passage that much more difficult.. The road has been "hogged out" by spinning tires digging very deep holes..

I’m thinking only the MOST capable of properly equipped 4-WD’s with skilled drivers will be able to make it past this point..

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