N. Cottonwood Creek Trailhead


Road Difficulty

2WD, rough dirt road 2   (0=Paved, 6=Very Difficult 4WD)
Rough 2WD dirt to the TH. It may require 4WD in early summer.

Driving Directions

Turn west on County Road (CR) 350 (Crossman Ave.) near the center of Buena Vista. This road is less than 1/2 mile north of the stoplight in the center of town. Continue on CR 350 for 2 miles and turn right onto CR 361. After almost 1 mile, turn left onto CR 365 (dirt). Continue on this road for over 5 miles to the trailhead at the end of the road. Turn right into the wooded parking area which loops around counter-clockwise. The trail starts on the west side of the parking area.

Winter Access

Closed near 9,200 feet - over 3 miles below the TH.
Status Updates 
Posted By: jscully205
Info: Unchanged from previous reports. Perhaps a little icier, used 4wd to TH.
Posted By: angry
Info: No problem making it all the way to th today (12/23/20). New snowfall was not significant enough to cause any access issues.
Posted By: Eagle Eye
Info: CR365 is still open to the TH. Like the most recent December 13th info, I would say the road and especially the trailhead area are in a good tires, high clearance and 4wd required condition. It snowed enough yesterday (12/22) afternoon and night to cover my tracks from driving in earlier that morning.
Posted By: dennywitte
Info: FS365 continues to be open all the way to the North Cottonwood TH. The road is snow covered with two good tracks and has some snow between the tracks. I would recommend 4WD and some ground clearance as you approach the TH.
Posted By: Squirrellysquirrel
Info: Accessible with AWD, snow covered for last few miles. Bathrooms still open at Silver.

Forgot who mentioned the TH sanitary situation, but found 2 human (?) poopsicles at TH, and then a lot of cat scat on the trail.
Posted By: bmcqueen
Info: Still easily accessible in my 4Runner today. I would think any AWD vehicle would still make it.
Posted By: dennywitte
Info: Road is passable to the trailhead. FS365 is mostly snow covered, with solid, packed tire tracks through the ice/snow. Might need some ground clearance above Silver Creek where the snow between the tracks gets deeper.
Posted By: dennywitte
Info: The road is still passable with high-clearance, 4WD vehicles. Around 8" at the trailhead. The road is not drifted (yet).
Posted By: dennywitte
Info: Road is snowcovered and icy in spots. 2" of snow at the trailhead itself.
Posted By: Marcos
Info: Still easy 2WD access. Recent snow has mostly melted.
Posted By: salmanalsaif
Info: Trusted the last TH report and they were right. Easily made it to the TH in my Mazda 3 today 10/18/20. The road isn’t bad at all, took me about 17 minutes to get to the TH.
The restroom is 1.5 miles before the TH to your left, no restrooms at the TH (there’s a sign that says so).
Posted By: mtgoatmike
Info: The beginning of the dirt road has been regraded, completely flat and passable in most vehicles. There were a few bumps and rocks higher up, but they are avoidable. There were all sorts of vehicles parked at the trailhead, including an older model Prius!
Posted By: ncxhjhgvbi
Info: Lots of recent grading work has made this drive a lot easier. I was there on 9/22 and couldnt believe the difference between then and today. My friend made it up to the TH in a cruze about a month ago when it was still rutted out...so should be passable for most if not all 2wds now.
Posted By: tipiman
Info: I would NOT try to drive a car like say...a Pontiac Fiero up to this trail head right now. Rocks and ruts would not allow that! Here is my vid... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQ-ylNjXiNU
Posted By: coffbrauhaus
Info: Someone took a grader over the rough gully others mentioned in earlier reports and now it’s completely passable. Still some big rocks, but nothing that was unavoidable.
Posted By: Mzapo
Info: Made it in a dodge charger without bottoming out. Just be careful over the large rut at the beginning, and utilize the large rocks others have put in to make it over. Other than that there’s a few large pot holes that are easy to avoid if vigilant.
Posted By: adventurerunner
Info: Drove in Friday night in my little Prius C. There is one bad spot at the beginning, but with enough rocks stacked in the gap and a good entry line, I made it with little problem. The rest of the road is bad, but nothing a sedan can’t handle with an attentive driver. I didn’t bottom out driving in or out, but I suspect I was close at times.
Posted By: lukeneedsnewsocks
Info: Wading into the debate here on the roughness of the road. First, the "canyon" that is developing near the start of the road continues to worsen and I would argue is nearly impassable by a 2wd sedan with lower clearance. Not impossible, but getting close as it keeps getting cut deeper by vehicles spinning tires to get over it. Same with a few of the other rough spots. Most are up hills and are getting worse due to tires spinning out as they drive up up them. I observed several vehicles do this, but certainly not blaming anyone as I was doing it myself earlier that morning in the dark! I last drove this road 2 years ago and its definitely getting worse. Once you get past Silver Creek trailhead, the road is very smooth. My take is that while I would not risk taking my stock Ford Focus up there, others may feel OK with it if they’re comfortable with rough road driving in a few spots. I think the key is having solid tires. A good amount of sharp rocks up there. Clearance isn’t too big of an issues aside from the "canyon".
Posted By: Brake414er
Info: The road to the North Cottonwood Trailhead is doable for almost any car. The worst section of the road is close to the start, while still in private lands. Beyond that the challenge is the potholes. Take your time, pick your line, and any car can make it. A fair amount of traffic. Very little parking left at the trailhead.
Posted By: Bccrhp
Info: As others have mentioned, there’s one nasty deep cut early on and a few other rugged spots on this road. Anything high-clearance should be fine, and although I wouldn’t risk mine, a Prius made it through seemingly OK.
Posted By: miniarmstrong
Info: Three years ago I made it to the trailhead no trouble in a 2WD sedan. Today though, there was a washed out rut about a mile up the road that I bottomed out on. Thankfully no bad damage but at one point my wheels were spinning helplessly trying to get out of it. My sedan did make it again to the TH but I had I known in advance (should have done my research!) I would have arranged to take a different vehicle.
Posted By: Z slice
Info: Road is definitely getting beat up with all the summer traffic. The one big rut about a mile up the road is not too bad as long as you choose a good line. I aired down my stock Tacoma to make it ride a little better. I was also in 4-Lo for most of it. I saw a Toyota Camry at the top, that person was brave! Several other Subarus and smaller vehicles at the parking lot. AWD highly recommended at a minimum...at the very least it will help preserve the road without having a 2wd sedan spinning their wheels to get up.

Vehicle clearance is only an issue when finding a parking spot in the very busy trailhead. I had to get creative to squeeze between a tree and a Land Rover.
Posted By: Thevirtualsherpa
Info: Just adding a picture of the tough spot per previous reports. Its not a deal breaker (my legacy got up and down with minor scraping) but can see this becoming a problem in future seasons if not filled in.
Posted By: demmons1
Info: TH access for all vehicles - 2WD and 4WD. Saw a Prius parked at the TH.
Posted By: Cide
Info: Just like the last report, one area of concern is cut way below the THs in the area that a standard sedan could scrape on. Washboard and tire popping rocks are not of any real concern here which is different for a Sawatch dirt-road TH approach although, they are not totally absent. When getting to the TH proper, the site lists a counterclockwise direction of travel but I would say that if you were white knuckling a Ford Taurus up to the TH...do not go counter-clockwise as it is super rough for a vehicle of that sort...stay left and park where you can.

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