Matterhorn Creek Trailhead


Road Difficulty

Moderate 4WD, long wheel base vehicles not recommended. Good clearance required. 4   (0=Paved, 6=Very Difficult 4WD)
Rough 2WD dirt to 10,300'. 4WD to 10,800' at the TH.

Driving Directions

From Lake City, turn west onto Second street. Drive 0.1 mile and turn left onto Henson Creek Road (Alpine Loop Scenic Byway) and begin measuring mileage from here. Near 5 miles, pass the Nellie Creek trailhead sign. Near 9 miles, turn right onto the North Henson Road which is more rough than the Henson Creek road but can still be driven by most good-clearance vehicles. Near 11 miles, there is another junction with a sign indicating the Matterhorn Creek trailhead is ahead. Park here if you don't have a 4WD vehicle or turn right and continue 0.7 mile to the trailhead and parking area.

Winter Access

Usually closed a short distance up the Henson Creek road - many miles from the TH.
Status Updates 
Posted By: supranihilest
Info: Some snow and ice but a good driver should have no problem reaching the upper, 4WD trailhead.
Posted By: Thevirtualsherpa
Info: Echoing the last report with a bit more context with a different vehicle. The first 9 miles are a bit rough but passable with most vehicles. There is one massive puddle just before right hand turn to North Henson Road that I scraped going in but avoided going out. Hard to tell how deep it is and one large rock in the middle of it. North Henson has really gone to hell over the years, I was able to get my legacy up to the upper 4wd TH split but a handful of spots that required careful navigating to avoid scraping. To be honest, besides 2-3 spots, the difference between North Henson and the last .7 miles is not that different these days. The main difference on the last .7 besides those 2-3 spots is the amount of loose rock on the road.
Posted By: Chicago Transplant
Info: Road to the traditional 4WD trailhead from Capitol City is degraded from years past. There are several rocky sections spread out over that 2 miles that rival the last section to Lily Lake TH in the Sangres (Lindsey). I would call this portion of the road a "3" on the scale now. Luckily one of the rough spots is early, park at the bottom of this road if you have any questions and walk the first 100-200 yards and you will get a good sense of the road. There was one Impreza up there, but it probably scraped? I had no issues in a 2012 Outback with the right driving line, which required a few zig zags. Other vehicles that were up there included a 2017 and 2019 Forester, Hyundai Santa Fe and an Audi Q5. Somehow a CRV was at the upper TH, but I wouldn’t recommend that.

Even the road between Nellie and Capitol City has degraded, there are a few rocky spots and some muddy puddles. One of the puddles is across most of the road and could be an issue for a lower sedan/mini van.
Posted By: MountainBuhn
Info: Lower 4wd: Recent rain made the depth of the puddles on North Henson hard to gauge, but nothing too troublesome for an ordinary crossover with 7+ inches of clearance. Doable with below that but very cautious driving and good maneuvering around some larger rock fields necessary.

Saw a couple of foresters get up about a quarter of the true 4wd, but I wouldnt comfortably drive up without more than 9-10 inches of clearance. One stock Grand Cherokee was at the top

Henson creek road has a couple of deeper spots close to the turn off so dont get lazy.
Posted By: sky_high
Info: Second the information from the last report. The road is clear and completely doable with a stock 4wd or high-clearance 2wd to the lower trailhead. There is downed brush that makes some of the route tight, but it generally doesn’t impeded the road. Just an FYI from driving in the dark, don’t be fooled by the lazy right turn at about .5 miles up the 4wd road, go straight instead. The road itself is rubbly and rutted and there are two or three patches that dip significantly, but can maneuvered through easily. That said, the upper 4wd trailhead has some pretty difficult rocks to negotiate and several tight turns. If you weren’t okay with Nellie Creek you shouldn’t be okay with this either. Several lifted Jeeps and a stock Rubicon looked like they made it up okay, but wide trucks will find it hard to avoid the worst obstacles. The parking for the lower 4wd trailhead is just past the turnoff for the upper trailhead.
Posted By: rchacon
Info: Road was easily passable by any crossover up until the last .7 miles. From there, you’ll get a healthy view of what to expect for the last .7 miles to the trailhead. The last .7 miles was more challenging than the Nellie Creek road, but shorter and without the difficult first stream crossing on the Nellie Creek road. I was mistaken in thinking that this road was going to be easier than Nellie Creek - it’s not, just shorter. Still, I easily drove it with a stock 4Runner SR5 (no rear locker) with AT tires. No need for a spotter and similar 4X4s shouldn’t have any issue. I would definitely not suggest taking a Subaru or any crossover the last .7 miles unless you’re willing to hit a few rocks along the way.
Posted By: kspitzer1987
Info: Stock 2015 F150, crew cab, long bed (6.5’), towing mirrors

There are reports in previous posts about downed aspens making the trail so narrow that it was nearly impossible to pass unless somebody brings in a chainsaw to widen it. Well, that must have happened. I went all the way up to the trailhead and never had less than 6" to spare on both sides of my truck (mirrors were folded in). No danger of scraping the side of your vehicle on aspens anymore so long as your mirrors are folded in.
The road from Lake City to the first 4x4 road is doable in a sedan, although it will be a very rough, slow ride. The lower 4x4 road is a different story. I saw a Subaru Legacy halfway up the lower 4x4, but I’m not sure how it made it...I suspect it suffered some scraping and undercarriage damage. If you don’t want to suffer damage to the underside of your vehicle, do NOT drive a sedan up the lower 4x4 trail. I made it very easily in my truck.
The upper 4x4 trail was much more technical than the lower and required significantly more ground clearance, but I still made it relatively easily in my F150. While ground clearance was an absolute must for large rocks, I never had a problem with my long wheelbase. If for some crazy reason a sedan or low-clearance vehicle made it all the way up the lower 4x4 road, I assure you they WILL NOT make it up the upper 4x4 trail, so please don’t try.
Posted By: Been_Jammin
Info: 2003 Chevy Tahoe Z71 made it to the top easily.
Posted By: jharned
Info: The posts describing the downed trees on the way up the road have been cut and moved out of the way to not cause any obstruction to the road. Made it to the 4WD trailhead with no issues with stock Silverado 4WD. You could argue that the last 50 yards before the 4WD TH there is a funky rock to navigate around, but it wasn’t a major issue. Way more mellow than Nellie Creek.
Posted By: hikerjess
Info: Got my 2wd toyota sequoia up to the point about 0.6 miles below the trailhead with minimal/no issues. Just take it steady. There were a bunch of downed trees, but they have since been moved to the side. Lots of exposed rocks and a few ruts, but they are avoidable. Summer conditions all the way. One small water crossing and a mud pit that was only a few inches deep. I would highly recommend 4WD the rest of the way to the trailhead from there. Lots of beautiful spots to pull off and camp along the way.
Posted By: little_castaldo
Info: Offering another opinion: I didn’t think the road up to the upper TH was that bad. My stock Jeep Wrangler made it just fine, and I didn’t have to get out to spot anything. Squeezing through the cut trees though made me a little nervous, but no issue.
Posted By: corunner
Info: Would agree about the downed trees. They are all in the first mile or so of the North Hensen Rd stretch. I drove a stock Silverado 1500 4wd and found only one spot problematic. I made it through fine with a few inches between the truck and downed aspen trees...but only because my passenger and I rolled down the windows watching each side carefully as we passed through. If I was alone, I bet I would have scraped the side of my truck.

Smaller vehicles should be fine.

We then parked .7 mi from the upper TH. Glad we did. It would have been pretty bad...for my truck at least.
Posted By: BB
Info: If you’re in a larger vehicle, say an F250 or Tundra etc., you might want to take a chainsaw. Many downed trees across the road from last winter’s snows & avalanches. These trees have been cut to open the road, but in several places -- one in particular -- the gaps are pretty tight.
Posted By: jvirene
Info: This is a pretty fun 4wd trail, if you have a larger vehicle i’d keep an eye out because there are a bunch of down trees that, although have been sawed, only give narrow passage so they might scrape. My buddy drove up the trail in a Mazda CX-5 and we didn’t have any issues, made it all the way up to the upper 4wd trailhead.
Posted By: hogantheepic
Info: No snow on this road, but this road is craaaaazy. Was very surprised that my Ford Escape made it up the road. Do not attempt this road unless you have god driving skills (my dad drove, not me) and/or you have a super high clearance vehicle and 4WD.

Edit: the previous trailhead report downplays the condition of the road. Again, even if a suburu made it, they probably scraped their car a bunch and potentially damaged things. We scraped our muffler a couple times. Just a warning.
Posted By: Squirrellysquirrel
Info: Matterhorn Creek TH is in summer conditions as are roads around this point. Accessible with 4WD, also did see some AWD Subies and such as well. Some rough spots, yet if you go slow, should be okay. Matterhorn and Wetterhorn are pretty much summer conditions.
Posted By: Flyingfish
Info: Engineer pass CR 20 is open as far as you can drive. Below Capitol city the road is mostly dry to the Matterhorn Creek turn off. Above capitol city there are large portions of the road covered in snow. I did not go up Matterhorn Creek so I don’t know what the upper road looks like
Posted By: larixpjm
Info: The road is cleared from trees. I could reach the TH with 4runner without any problems.
Posted By: tjf242424
Info: No problems getting to the lower TH in an Outback. Probably could have made it all the way, but not worth the stress for the 0.7 mi of walking saved.
Posted By: RGrimm518
Info: Trailhead fully accessible. Between miles 9-11 some debris that has been freshly cleared (photo). The last .7 mile stretch was doable in our Grand Cherokee Trailhawk using 4WD and with the suspension raised up. Also up there was a F150 and Tacoma TRD, and some side-by-sides.
Posted By: davidboron
Info: Lot of avalance debris at beginning of trailhead. Need to step over, around and thru the pines that have been tumbled by the slide. Debris path is about 100yds long. All’s well after that.
Posted By: RyGuy
Info: Road is clear of avalanche debris to the upper 4WD TH. avalanche even clipped the upper 4WD parking area, although the trail signs are intact. Road to the lower 2WD TH is in decent shape, road from the turn-off to the upper 4WD trail is pretty solidly 4WD only. Saw a Honda Element that tried and couldn’t make it past one of the first good ruts. Finally, get there early. This isn’t a big TH and there aren’t many pull offs on the way up from the lower TH.

Picture 1: Looking at the gate and avalanche debris that clipped the TH parking area
Picture 2: Just right of the first picture. TH sign was thankfully missed.
Picture 3: Looking at the little campsite just below the parking area with more avalanche debris.
Posted By: LetsGoMets
Info: North Henson Road is clear of Avy debris and any other obstacles and driveable easily to the lower TH (where I Parked). Alao clear to the Upper as well. The entire 2.5ish miles is decently rough and gutted in places, and (currently) I personally would not consider taking a 2WD on it despite the label.
Posted By: sunny1
Info: Access clear & dry to Matterhorn TH. There were a few spots where avy debris has been cleared.
Posted By: Jesse40
Info: Henson Creek Rd is closed about 1/4 mile above the Uncompahgre turn (or about 6 miles below the Matterhorn TH) due to multiple large avalanches blocking the road. These are being actively cleared. However, the side road covering the last two miles to the trailhead is also blocked by multiple avalanches and I’d bet it will take a while for that to be addressed.

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