Huerfano/Lily Lake Trailhead
Info

Location

Sangre de Cristo
37.62361° N, -105.47278° W
14ers: Mt. Lindsey
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Road Difficulty

Easy 4WD, good clearance recommended. 3   (0=Paved, 6=Very Difficult 4WD)
Rough 2WD access to the west side of the landslide area, 2 miles from the trailhead. Easy 4WD/AWD/Good-Clearance to reach the upper trailhead at 10,700'. 4WD may be required in spring when large puddles and mud are present.

Driving Directions

  • Drive to the town of Gardner, northwest of Walsenburg on Colorado 69.
  • From Gardner, head west for about 1/2 mile on CO 69 and turn west on the road to Mosca Pass.
  • Just after the start of this road, a Forest Service sign states "Upper Huerfano - 21.5" and "Lily Lake Trhd - 22.5".
  • After 7.0 miles the road turns to dirt.
  • Continue 4.8 miles to a junction and stay left on Forest Road 580.
  • Drive 3.4 miles and enter private property where a "Forest Access" sign reads "Upper Huerfano - 5.3 mi."
  • Continue 0.5 mile and stay left at the entrance to the Singing River ranch. The road becomes narrow, but still 2WD.
  • Continue 0.9 mile and pass the entrance to the Aspen River ranch.
  • Drive 3.2 miles to reach the the west side of large, landslide area where the road was re-routed in 2016. If you have 2WD and/or low-clearance, park here and walk the last 2 miles to the trailhead.
  • Now on a narrow and rugged road, continue 2 miles to reach the end of the road, at the Lily Lake TH. There are many dispersed camping spots along the way, including some at the parking area.

Winter Access

Usually closed near the ranches, many miles below the TH.
Status Updates 
  
Posted By: RWSchaffer
Info: Road free of snow to trailhead.

As observed in recent reports, the 2WD section of the road contains an obstacle that is not friendly to 2WD vehicles. Here is a picture. This is about 0.9 miles above the Aspen Ranch entrance.

My 2WD hatchback, which has a lift for just over 7 inches of clearance, made it through without scraping. But it also pitched and rolled, spinning wheels on the way up and chattering anti-lock brakes on the way down.
1 
Posted By: kiwiliam
Info: Currently, if you can get a 2WD as far as the slip, meaning you got past the large potholes a couple of miles after Singing River Ranch, you can drive to within about 3/4 miles of the upper trailhead. About a 1/4 mile after the Huerfano and Zapata Pass trails cross the road, it turns right and starts up hill at a steeper grade. This is where the first bad spot is visible, and you’ll probably want to start hiking. People parked on the corner and plenty of spots a little back down the road.

BTW. If you are coming south from WESTCLIFFE on CO69 just after mile post 31 turn on right CR555. At the end of this road, turn right onto CR550 which is the road to Mosca Pass that turns to dirt in the description. You will cut off about 6 miles. From Westcliffe its 50 miles to 4WD trailhead: 30min on 69, 30mins on dirt roads to Singing River Ranch and 30mins of rough road to the trailhead.
 
Posted By: areedhay
Info: CR580 is dry to the Zapata trail (for California Peak’s North Ridge route) 20.8 miles from Gardner turnoff on HWY 69. The various obstacles seem to have deepened since last I was one the road (in August) but still passable for most vehicles. 2020 Tacoma breezed.
 
Posted By: Elitch21
Info: A very seasoned stock 2009 Ford Escape named Jeff made it to the upper 4WD trailhead. The road is in pretty good shape all around and as stated in other reports, there are basically 2 rough spots that require a bit of clearance and some maneuvering to avoid. Never spun out. Never seemed close to damaging the car. Google maps will take you only so far and then you will continue for roughly 50 mins to the upper trailhead, enjoy!
 
Posted By: skidrye
Info: Road completely snow free to the trailhead. There are a couple places where a good amount of clearance is required. My stock jeep Cherokee XJ made it up no problem without scrapes.
 
Posted By: vandy
Info: Reports of two rough spots are accurate - one fairly early on that is hard to avoid and one later on that is easier. I got up with only minor scrapes in my Subaru Crosstrek (that I probably could have avoided completely with a little more skill), but any vehicle with less ground clearance would have trouble I think.
 
Posted By: nilaoire
Info: Two sections of the road really chewed up prior to the trailhead. Did see a Subaru at the trailhead, good luck getting down.
 
Posted By: ellenmseb
Info: 1. The last 4ish miles of the road are all equally bad. In fact, the hardest difficulties are during the supposedly 2wd section. For the last 4 miles, an Outback-type vehicle is necessary and sufficient. Maybe a rental sedan.

2. There was plenty of parking at 8am on a Sunday. And the road is much easier to drive during the daylight. So no need to rush up the night before to get a spot.

3. In an Outback, I didn’t make past the big rut at the very top, mentioned by the 8/8 report. Spent 15mins backing up instead. But this only caused me to hike ~200 yards extra. In hindsight I probably could have made it with the right line.

4. If you’re coming from alamosa, google maps directions are bad. CR572 requires 4wd. Even if you have 4wd, it’s so rough that it would probably be slower than going around. Take the highway via Walsenburg or CR520 (easy 2wd dirt) via Badito instead.

5. I saw a bear running along the road 5 miles below the trailhead.
 
Posted By: MountainBuhn
Info: Took a 2017 Crosstrek up to the main TH with minimal issues, but definitely tedious and white-knuckling.

I would say a 2wd can make it up to the 2wd TH in the main description, but definitely with high potential for scraping.

Heading up: about 1 mile past the main Singing River Ranch sign is a large rut in some steep terrain. I spun out once, but made it through accelerating into it a bit. If you do this in a 2wd, you need to make sure your line is perfect or youll bottom out really bad.

Honestly past that first rut; theres only 1 or 2 smaller challenge areas to get to the FS boundary. 2 creek crossings, which were rocky, but not too deep. Then one steeper section just past the final Singing River Ranch sign "No Camping. No Parking". Which has small potholes, but nothing too crazy.

If you have a 2wd, stop soon after, you will not make it that far past the FS boundary. If you attempt to go all the way you will damage your car if you have less than 7 inches.

As for cars with more than 7 inches, there are 2 spots in particular, the last mile up, that present some challenge. One deep rut, which requires good maneuvering and some acceleration put into it. We spun out twice before making it past. Finally, the hole right before the top (I attached a picture, but not sure if itll help). Stay to the left and ride that side close to the trees and you’ll be good. Your right tire will be lower, but you wont bottom out.

Way down was much easier.

All in all, Id say this is easier than Princeton, but still very sketch for those less experienced or in cars with less than 9 inches or so. Not to mention plenty of tire popping rocks from start to finish. Worth it in the end.
1 
Posted By: eyoder3
Info: Made it up to the upper TH with my ’03 Subaru Forester. A low clearance 2wd wouldn’t make it to the 2wd TH (2mi from TH) in my opinion. Theres 1 or 2 rough spots on the road to the lower 2wd. Low clearance 2wd would probably make it 6 miles from trailhead, just past the ranches (road gets worse after ranches). Last 2 miles to upper TH aren’t that much worse from the first part after the ranches. 1 or 2 rough steep sections, but doable with good clearance 4wd/AWD.
 
Posted By: xcrunner365
Info: Was able to get my 2018 Subaru Outback to the TH with minimal issues. The worst of the road is definitely the pothole section from the FS boundary to the TH. Picking a good line is key.
 
Posted By: joezim425
Info: The road is kind of washed out once it starts to go up and there is a 4WD move or two before Upper Huerfano, but it is still possible with a high-clearance 2WD car. Between Upper Huerfano and Lily Lake trailhead, there are a couple of very large holes that require 4WD and some maneuvering.
 
Posted By: markf
Info: There’s a good size hole on a steep stretch about 1/2 mile below the Lily Lake TH. Smaller 4WD vehicles were getting through with minimal difficulty, but the hole seemed to get a little bigger every time a vehicle made it through.
 
Posted By: katfei
Info: Took my RAV4 all the way to the upper trailhead with minimal issues. There are 1-2 places towards the end that were a bit dicey but passable in the end. The road is a lot longer than expected (guess I just didn’t do the math in the description), in all about 15 miles from where the paved road ends.
 
Posted By: E_A_Marcus_949
Info: Only went as far as Lower Huerfano/Zapata Trailhead. Stock 2018 Forester made it just fine all the way. Pick your line carefully a few places, and you shouldn’t have any issue. Saw some sedans farther up too. If you do pull over/park before the trailheads/camp sites just make sure you’re not on private property. Plenty of areas though. One water crossing but if you have some clearance you should be fine.
 
Posted By: Corey17
Info: Summer conditions all the way up. We took a stock Rav-4 up and had no problems getting to the TH. I wouldn’t take a 2WD up there, the road seemed to be a bit rougher than the last time I drove it in 2018.
 
Posted By: LetsGoMets
Info: Summer 4x4 to the upper TH.
 
Posted By: CaptCO
Info: Drove up to Lily Lake TH and camped out for the night. No issue in a stock truck, saw subarus, hondas (Shoutout Will-E !!) and a few others. One deep rut that is avoidable near the top, no snow the entire way
 
Posted By: d_baker
Info: dry to TH.
 
Posted By: rivrrapids
Info: Clear most of way. Some snow near upper TH but passable in 4wd vehicle.
 
Posted By: Koy
Info: Road is clear to Lower Huerfano and you can continue up another 1/2 mile or so before snow blocks further progress. Will likely be 1-2 weeks yet before you can get all the way to the upper trailhead.
 
Posted By: Randy1983
Info: Was able to get about a mile from the Lower TH in a lifted Forester. Someone with more lift went a 1/4 of a mile or so further. Snow is melting fast. Road to Upper TH has one downed tree that I could see, might be others under snow drifts.
 
Posted By: angry
Info: There are some sections that are completely dry, while other areas are holding a lot of snow. Parked ~5 miles below th.
 
Posted By: mbxer
Info: We went up the 22nd during which there was heavy snow. I was able to get halfway through the private property in my Ford F-150, before the road up to the 4 wheel drive trail head and got stuck so had to turn around and park in the lot right before you enter the private land. It turned into a much longer hike. Snow was about 9inch deep from about 1.5 miles to the 4 wheel drive trail head with ice forming under the snow. Saturday the sun came out but there was still a good amount of snow up there on the road, but some might have melted off.
 
Posted By: mjohnson1960
Info: Road is essentially clear and dry to the 2WD trailhead. After that there are clear stretches intermittent with stretches of packed snow/ice, the latter generally increasing with elevation. Made it to within about 0.3-0.4 mile of 4WD TH in a stock Nissan Xterra S. At that point the road steepens a bit and is snow packed and icy. Gave it a couple of tries without success and decided we were close enough (getting dark and cold, time to set up camp, etc.). From there the road was mostly clear and it looked like pretty easy going to the TH, so a better vehicle (and/or driver!) would likely have no problems under these conditions. Not another soul up there on 11/17/19.
 



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