Frenchman Creek Trailhead
Info

Location

Sawatch Range
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Road Difficulty

Easy 4WD, good clearance recommended. 3   (0=Paved, 6=Very Difficult 4WD)

Winter Access

Unknown
Status Updates 
  
Posted By: geojed
Info: There is a large boulder sticking out in the middle of the road on a quite steep section 1.6mi before the TH @ 9500 elevation. We tried to get around it in a Subaru Outback but couldnt quite do it due to not being able to maintain speed and losing traction so we walked. If we had made it we would most likely have been able to make it the rest of the way.
More aggressive tires wouldve helped.
 
Posted By: JoeLeach
Info: Gate still closed. Floatation required after about 1 mile. Snow is Deeeppppp.
 
Posted By: dennywitte
Info: As of December 1, CR386 is gated just after you get off US24 (8500 feet). I hiked and snowshoed 3.3 miles back to the end of the 4wd road (10,400 feet) at the wilderness boundary. There is now a good trench in place up to the end of the 4wd road. Snow shoes are highly recommended.
 
Posted By: dennywitte
Info: I made it up to 9200 ft on FS386 in my 1996 Ford Explorer until the steepness and snow depth forced me to turn around.
 
Posted By: Silence_Dogood
Info: Frenchman Creek Trailhead is closed and gated 0.5 miles off US 24 at 8,570 ft until June 30 for elk conservation. This appears to be a new policy, as evidenced by the alteration to the Forest Service sign (see photos). The road itself appears to be in great condition all the way to the 4WD trailhead aside from a few downed trees that could be moved by hand. I suspect most moderately capable SUVs could make it to the 4WD trailhead once the gate opens, although that would depend on the driver comfort and experience levels.
2 
Posted By: cshanek
Info: The 4WD section is pretty sporty, but I was able to make it up in my stock Forester (8.7 inches of GC) on 3 occasions.
 
Posted By: Deege
Info: Routing is as described in the Roach book. 2wd TH (approx. 1.4 miles from US 24) is easy and passable with most vehicles, probably including sedans. However, the 4wd TH is NOT accessible with anything other than high clearance 4x4s. At about 2.1 miles from US 24, there is a steep, 45 deg. turn to the right with large boulders center and right that was not passable in my vehicle (AWD Acura MDX). Beyond that, there were about 4 additional sections where large rocks and boulders are exposed that would pose a similar challenge. Two vehicles at the upper TH; both were ORV-modified Toyota pickups with ample clearance. As of 7/3/16, the 4wd TH will abuse any vehicle without 4x4 traction and clearance. Previous posts suggesting otherwise are stale. For comparison purposes, similarly rated Silver Creek/Grizzly Gulch (Sunshine/Redcloud/Handies), Culebra, Princeton towers, S. Mt. Elbert, or upper portion of West Willow Creek (San Luis) did not pose anywhere close to the same challenges as the handful of sections on Frenchman‘s Creek 4wd TH.
 
Posted By: RockCaCO3
Info: Dry and passable up to 4wd TH.
 
Posted By: RockCaCO3
Info: Road dry and passable. Steep in places, but otherwise, not too bad for a 4x4 road. In stock Rubicon.
 
Posted By: Mully
Info: Trailhead is open. There are only two areas on the 4WD road that are a bit tricky. There is a right hand turn going "up hill" that is a bit precarious. It is about a mile up the 2.2 mile 4WD trail. The only other comment I would make is that after you exit tree line the trail seems to disappear. Keep heading to your right as you ascend and look for a large carin. The trail wonders through a washed out stream bed. After you exit the stream bed the trail is self evident until you get to the first shelf of the meadow. Then it disappears again. I would suggest that you aim for the southerly ridge and follow it to the ridge that intersects the traverse from Columbia.
 
Posted By: freeinthehills
Info: Gate locked, clear road to 4WD. Continuous snow around 10,200
 
Posted By: Kevin Baker
Info: Road is not passable beyond 8.7K and is officially closed to motor vehicles until June 15, although it is not gated. Flotation required beyond about 9.5K at the moment.
 
Posted By: rickinco123
Info: Made it to the end of the road with a Subaru Forrester. Had to be careful in a couple of spots but totally doable. Could be done with a 2 wheel drive normal passenger car with good tires and a strong engine.
 
Posted By: SnowAlien
Info: Parked at the bottom of the road. The sign said "uphill traffic is closed to all vehicles". The road was icy/crusty. There is a snowmobile/ATV track for the first mile, then it turns to the right. Snowshoe trench continues to 10.5k, then the skin track.
 
Posted By: Mickeys Grenade
Info: Can only drive to ~8,500 which is below the gate. We put in a 1 foot deep trench to 11,000 feet in Frenchman Creek.
 
Posted By: mdfreiberg
Info: I would highly recommend this trailhead. We had no visitors over the course of 1.5 days there. The trail is littered with downed trees, but still easy to maintain the course since it is a tight forming basin. The road to the 2WD trailhead is easy to access with all vehicles. The 4WD trailhead (~2.2 miles past 2WD) is steep at times, but not much in the way of boulders. I would suspect that most sedans could make it in dry conditions. There are no REAL switchbacks, but just the grade to consider. You can get away without high clearance so long as you are careful. Again, this is all if the conditions are dry. There is a campsite in the last grove of trees near 11,900 that is a fantastic jump off point for the climbs.
 
Posted By: Dad Mike
Info: Able to drive to the 386 / 387 junction in stock wrangler. This is about 1.4 miles from the hwy 24 turnoff. The road had snow on it the whole way, but it was nice and packed down from other vehicles. No one has driven up the road past this point and the road gets steep and rough quickly. Looks like this would be available all winter until they close the gate (.3 miles from hwy 24 turnoff) for elk migration. Round trip to Harvard summit is between 16 and 18 miles.
 
Posted By: geojed
Info: 4WD road is clear all the way to the TH. Not too rocky, just quite steep and narrow in a couple spots. Maybe room for 3 vehicles at TH. Low gearing sure helps on the way up and especially on the way down. This is definitely a Level 3-4 difficulty TH.
 
Posted By: blacomb
Info: Road is dry all the way to the top. I would consider this a legit 3 out of 6 as it is currently ranked. The only other vehicles at the trailhead were jeeps and atv‘s. I drove a stock jeep wrangler and never bottomed-out.
 
Posted By: JBS
Info: The gate is open and the road is snow free and dry to the TH.
 
Posted By: atg200
Info: The gate was still closed the morning of the 19th despite the sign claiming it would open on the 15th.
 
Posted By: Kevin8020
Info: The gate on the road is closed and will remail closed until June 15.
 
Posted By: nyker
Info: From Cty 386, road is fine up until the 4WD split, though there is one large bump at the beginning a passenger car may have trouble with. After the 4WD section, the road has a couple of steep rough, loose sections, where high clearance is needed, but mostly in decent shape. Few turnoffs though on the remaining 2 miles or so.
 
Posted By: Gahugafuga
Info: First mile of FR 386 is steep and rocky but passable for a well-driven 2WD. Road is 4WD only from junction of FR 386 and FR 387. On the trail, between 10k‘ and ~11,400‘ the mosquitoes are at epidemic levels but more tolerable above treeline. Patchy snow begins around 10,800‘ but no flotation is necessary.
 



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