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Castle Peak and Conundrum Peak is a 12.3 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Aspen, Colorado that features beautiful wild flowers and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, birding, and horses and is best used from March until November. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

Length 12.3 mi Elevation gain 4,990 ft Route type Out & Back

Dog friendly

Hiking

Horseback riding

Nature trips

Bird watching

Views

Wild flowers

Description
Waypoints (0)
Contact
Getting There

The highest mountain in the Elk range with a fun permanent snow field. From the parking lot hike up into the basin across the snow fields. The easiest route is to stay on the left side of the basin and do an ascending traverse along the snow. When you enter the basin that is just below Castle Peaks summit look to your left and you will see a strong trail that leads to Castles NE ridge. Take this trail to the ridge, then follow the ridge proper the rest of the way to the summit. Several trails lead off to one side or the other of the ridge that appear easier at first, don't be fooled stay on the top of the ridge.

Aspen Ranger Station 970-925-3445

From the rotary intersection on the West end of Aspen take Castle Creek road south. Follow this road past the town of Ashcroft until you reach the road closed sign. Turn right here onto the 4wd Montezuma Mine road. This road takes a good 4wd to reach the end. Follow the road until it ends at a parking lot at 12,400 feet.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (92)
Photos (208)
Recordings (87)
Completed (168)
Ben Freeman
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 8, 2020
HikingRockyScrambleSnow

Started at the trailhead because we didn't have a 4x4 vehicle. This results in roughly 14 miles of hiking. Parking higher up could reduce the hike by a few miles if that's your preference. The hike was great but very challenging especially at the top which definitely requires a fair amount of scrambling. Would definitely recommends helmets! On the descent from Conundrum, we decided to take a shorter route which is considered a class 3. Would only recommend this route if you know what you're doing and you have the right gear. Rocks are loose and you could easily get hit by rockfall if not careful. Cool hike but its definitely tough

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Mladen Tasev
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 2, 2020
Hiking
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Justin Davis
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 1, 2020
Hiking
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Travis Smith
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HikingGreat!Rocky
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Katt Crowdis
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 27, 2020
Hiking

Road- wouldn’t try without a 4WD period. Low clearance 4WD can make it past the creek crossing. I was able to get my Subaru Forester up to the Pearl Pass road junction. However, I had two hard hits getting down from the rocky section right before this. I would recommend that other low clearance 4WD cars stop right after passing the house and before this rocky section. There are campsites and plenty of parking opportunities here. Head wall- I found it easier to hang climbers left among the boulders rather than cross multiple snowfields along the actual trail. I did not see the need to use microspikes since I was easily able to avoid the snowfields. The rest of the trail is very easy to follow with great views of the other elk 14ers at the top. Descent- from the C-C saddle, I would not recommend glissading unless feeling risky. It’s quite steep with lots of exposed rocks now. I ice climbed (laddered down with an axe) for this section. The head wall is a nice, easy glissade. This can take you pretty much to the road. I don’t think an ice axe is necessary for this second snow section. It’s quite a mellow glissade.

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Lauren Mancini
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 27, 2020
Hiking

The class system is a bit misleading here - it is true you do not have to make a “climbing move” but the difficultly of the route finding on Castle puts this type of route in its own category (“difficult” 2). It is a cool and rewarding hike but know what you’re getting into. A Subaru forester (and a fearless driver) got us past the river and aaaalmost to pearl pass on July 20th. We skipped the glissade down the steepness under the saddle between the 2 peaks but slid on our butts down the lower snow fields. Fun! Spiked it with yaktrax going up the lower snow. I don’t know if this was totally necessary but I was sure glad to have them (and they are an inexpensive addition to gear). We did build a carin (sorry!) as we climbed Castle from both directions and there was a spot that the ridge could really use one - just a little one to get your eyes going in the right direction to find the next one. That being said, don’t always rely on them, they can indeed lead you astray sometimes so come prepared with a route description from a trusted source.

Joe Treger
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HikingIcy
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Tabitha Reynolds
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Hiking

Was a great but also a very difficult hike. Definitely some scrambling involved and trying to not look down on certain parts of the ridge. But it was very very rewarding once at the top of castle peak. We didn’t end up hitting conundrum since clouds were starting to roll in but from what I heard it’s about a 30min trek from castle to conundrum.

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Tate Haasl
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 14, 2020
HikingGreat!RockyScrambleSnow

Awesome hike! Definitely recommend a high clearance vehicle to make it through the creek, otherwise a majority of your home will be 4x4 road

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Simon Guérard
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Hiking

GREAT 14ers! Probably my favorite so far (only did 9...) Did this on July 1st which was perfect condition to glissade down the saddle. It might be too late for that now, and would make it a bit less pleasant, but still nice.

Kelley Kaiser
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 29, 2020
HikingIcyRockyScrambleSnow

Hiked 6.27 - trail was in great shape. Took us about 5 hours and 30 min round trip, but we did glissade down the saddle. My friend tried to glissade down the snow pile from the peak, and the snow is pretty loose and slushy, so would recommend against going that route as your ice axe will be useless and it’s pretty steep / you won’t have control. Overall really great hike, 4WD and high clearance vehicle is a must or get up the road. Awesome dispersed camping along the way

Rylie Spriggs
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 22, 2020
Hiking

My favorite 14ers yet!!!!! Epic sunrise, epic glissading, just amazing. For More info— IG: ryelizabeth92

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Jonathan Christensen
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Hiking

Keep in mind this was hiked the day before 8 inches are forecasted to fall in the Elk Range. Dry conditions up to above tree line. Snow above 12,000 was packed and solid. No post holing, but did hit trail from lower trailhead at 3:30 and summit by 7. Back to car by 10:30. Easy to walk on with spikes. Definitely recommend spikes. Glissade was very very fast. Would not be safe without ice axe and helmet. Make sure to go slowly. Easy to slide out of control. With 8 inches falling onto the firm, slick snow tonight, and 10-25 mph south/east winds, the conditions will be much different and potentially unsafe to glissade for the next few days, potentially week. Vehicle wise, River is moving fast but it you get past the river and have the proper vehicle, you can go very high up to just below tree line. Again, this could be completely changed with the new snow coming tonight.

Ashley Bennett
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 7, 2020
HikingScrambleSnow
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Sarah Johnson
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HikingFloodedIcyMuddy
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Brandon Brito
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Hiking

awesome hike.Don't pay attention to my time my phone was messing up. anyways. started at 6 summited 1st mountain at 950 2nd at 1030. Probably my new favorite 14er.

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David Daniels
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 5, 2019
Hiking

almost died. would recommend. don't drive past the bridge.

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Alexander Short
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 8, 2019
Hiking

These were a great couple of peaks to summit. It was a challenging haul as we started a little over a mile from the 2WD trailhead. There are 9 dispersed campsites that are available. My C-RV made it to number 9. You can park much higher at 12,800 feet, but this territory belongs to non-stock Jeep Wranglers. We saw a couple of pickups turn around. However, campsite 9 was quite nice, and there is a lot of extra firewood cut up from avalanche debris. We started hiking at 515 am and were glad we did. A storm rolled in early afternoon. There isn’t anything too technical, but there are some aspects that just require a little extra concentration. At this time in the year some of the rock is frosted, therefore slippery, in the early morning. I wouldn’t say it is a safety concern though. Once we summited Castle, it took 90 minutes to return from Conumdrum. The only brutal part of this hike was the boulder field on your way down to the upper 4WD lot. We were fortunate enough to get a ride down from a sick Jeep as the storm was rolling in on us when we got out of the boulder field. Cheers!

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