Hermit Pass Road Trailhead


Sangre de Cristo
38.09381° N, -105.63106° W
PhotoPhoto Add

Road Difficulty

Moderate 4WD, long wheel base vehicles not recommended. Good clearance required. 4   (0=Paved, 6=Very Difficult 4WD)
Really rough (big rocks) above 11,500'.

Driving Directions

From the intersection of Colorado Highways 96 and 69 in Westcliffe, drive south on CO 69 for 0.3 mile and turn right (west) onto Hermit Road (County Road 160). Drive 6.0 miles to a fork in the road. Stay left on Hermit Road which quickly becomes rough 2WD. Approx. 1.25 miles after the fork, the road turns to 4WD. Reach the Rainbow Trail 2 miles up from the fork and the Hermit Pass Trail (goes to Hermit Lake, on left) at approx. 6 miles. The road is very rough now and continues an additional 3 miles to reach Hermit Pass (a total of approx. 9 miles from the low, 2WD fork in the road). Below 11,400', there are lots of pull-offs and dispersed camp spots along the road.

Winter Access

Probably closed somewhere near the lower, 2WD fork, near 8,800'.
Status Updates 
Posted By: mikemalick
Info: Drove to 11,763’ in a Chevy Colorado before I couldn’t take the jostling anymore. The minor snow that was supposed to hit last night/this morning didn’t amount to anything. Only snow on the road is in 3 spots on the final switchbacks prior to the pass.

Pic of the 3 spots from up high and then right at them. You could see tire tread on snow edges so someone in some vehicle type made it all the way.
Posted By: angry
Info: 4WD required. Mostly dry. At ~10,000’ there is a large rut/puddle with standing water that goes up to about mid-tire on a Jeep. Some snow on road above 11,500.
Posted By: HikerGuy
Info: I hate this road. It’s actually quite easy from a technical standpoint, no large obstacles and plenty of room to pass when needed. But, it is freaking rough and will bounce you around to death. Any stock 4wd can make it up. AWD cars will not make it that far.
Posted By: RJ_Greenhorn24
Info: The road is as filled with ruts on the switchbacks and giant misplaced boulders as usual, but dry all the way to the top! We made it to 2 miles short of the pass in a F-150 with 2wd (4wd not working). We could have made it to Horseshoe lake (.75 miles further) but were tired of out guts getting sloshed around. Give yourself lots of time on this road, it’s slow going and you have to pull over for a million Jeeps, SxS, and 4wheelers. The hubby did manage to have a blast on the dirt bike though .
Posted By: rpdawes
Info: Parked at site 4 miles away from the Hermit Pass. I hiked up a 4x4 road and saw a few vehicles making it to the switchover just before the pass, maybe 100 feet short. There was some snow field blocking any vehicle and even a hiker from reaching the pass. Lucky hikers since there is a short trail allowing them walk to the other side of the road.
Posted By: Kiefer
Info: Hermit Pass Road is open to about .2 mile from the summit. Don’t bring a big truck though. The cuts through the prior seasons snowdrifts are still melting & will only allow a smaller vehicle (Jeep, Taco).
Not the roughest 4x4 road I’ve driven, but it definitely holds its own. Lots of pull-outs for passing vehicles.
Posted By: Reg0928
Info: Big drift currently blocking the road at around 11,700ft. Road is rough as hell, but passable up to that point if you’ve got the vehicle for it.
Posted By: Tufftommy-BV
Info: You can make it within 250’ of the pass via vehicle... There is a large drift in the very last left hand switchback that will be there another week or two. The road is in the usual condition - nothing overly technical but rough as all get out. Hermit, Eureka and the three low 13ers are snow free (unless you want to walk over to it) and in good summer condition.
Posted By: globreal
Info: We drove up to 10,400’ and parked today to climb Rito Alto, Hermit Peak, and Eureka Mtn. Very little snow up there...and we could have driven another 1/2 mile or so. Past that there are numerous ice slicks covering the entire road in places. I would not drive on them without chains!
Posted By: Candace66
Info: There is a snow bank at the last switch back before the pass. So at this point you cannot drive quite all the way to the pass. Thankfully I’m now done with all the thirteeners accessed from hermit pass. Because that means I never again have to drive on this lousy road! Road is very rocky and rough, all the way from the forest boundary to the top. High clearance 4 wheel drive only. Or better yet use an ATV. There is also currently one very large puddle (more like a small pond!) in the road that you cannot go around that is at least a foot deep. BTW, I was driving a four-door Jeep Wrangler Rubicon.
Posted By: Tony1
Info: Road is clear to the pass, save for one snowfield just below the top, but the road is wide enough in that location to drive around it. The difficulty progressively increases with elevation past the National Forest boundary. I drove to 9600‘ in my Crosstrek, just past the first set of ruts and larger rocks. There are several camping spots reachable by such Outback-type vehicles around that area before the road becomes a little more difficult. We drove to 12,850‘ in a Grand Cherokee with offroad tires. The worst part of the road is just below 12,000‘ where the road crosses a rockslide. I would say real 4x4 is mandatory uphill of the Hermit Lake trailhead. The entire road is slow-going, bumpy, and therefore tedious. Lastly, if you intend to park up high on this road, bring marmot protection for your vehicle.
Posted By: marianne
Info: Drove up to 11,800 feet , snow drifts on the road within a 100 yards , possibly will melt out in another week.
Posted By: JeffR
Info: Impassable snowdrift at 12,700. Snow-free below that. Road consists of good-sized rocks at 11,700, doable with careful 4WD.
Posted By: Dad Mike
Info: I‘ve been up this road 2 times this month...11/11 and 11/23. The first day we were able to get to about 9200‘...which is about 1.2 miles from the left hand turn. Today I was able to get to 9500‘, 1.7 miles from the turn. I wouldn‘t expect the snow to melt out any higher for a while. There are also a ton of downed trees from the recent wind storm. ATVers have done a good job of clearing the road...so no real travel issues. But it is quite impressive to see.
Posted By: thebugguy
Info: As per my forum post, I drove my AWD 97 Toyota RAV4 up to about 11,900’ (38.0966 -105.64194) on Monday- this is about 0.30 mi below the hairpin at Horseshoe Lake. You can see the car as a little silver speck in the attached photo, taken just a few steps down from the hairpin. I was in "L" most of the way. The other photo is of Horseshoe Lake itself.

My impressions: this is a long, long, rough, long road. There are obviously no Jaws-like impediments to getting at least this far, but I was dodging large embedded rocks and squirrelling around on loose cobbles for virtually the entire way. Regardless of the type of vehicle you drive, give yourself a lot of time to get there and back, even more so for borderline vehicles like mine. In a proper high-clearance 4WD this would be fun- in my RAV4 it was rather nerve-wracking and in retrospect probably not a good idea.

After parking at the end of a particularly rough section where the road crosses a scree slope, I probably could have pushed it up to the hairpin for a better place to turn around. After that, the road gets steep and narrow, and although it looks like it might smooth out a bit above 12,000, the narrowness and lack of pull-offs dissuaded me from going higher.

After walking up to the Horseshoe Lake look out, I came back to the car to find a marmot sneaking out from underneath. I checked for damage and found no leaking fluids, but who knows what that little monster could’ve done with another hour or two on his hands...

The bottom line is that you can, if you really want to, get to Hermit Lake and beyond with a stock AWD with decent clearance. The question is, how lucky/confident do you feel? I myself probably won’t be doing it again...


PS there are numerous campsite pull-offs below Hermit Lake, at the HL trailhead, and at HL itself (though many may be technically too close (within 300’) of the lake). A beautiful spot! If I visit again, it will be in my truck...
Posted By: BillMiddlebrook
Info: The Hermit Pass Road was dry to the last switchback below the pass, where snow was encountered. We only drove to 11,100‘ (pickup truck, slow going) and camped in an excellent dispersed camp spot then hiked the rough road.

© 2021 14ers.com®, 14ers Inc.