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Castle Rock via Elbert Creek Trail

moderate(159)
San Juan National Forest

Castle Rock via Elbert Creek Trail is a 4.5 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Durango, Colorado that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 4.5 miles Elevation Gain: 1,646 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly

hiking

horseback riding

mountain biking

snowshoeing

walking

bird watching

forest

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

snowshoeing
snow
3 months ago

Very pretty, great views and a perfect, “make it what you want” trail for snowshoeing. Trail is decently cut from prior use, but one good storm could change that. Park near the shed at the south end of the Needles Country Corner parking lot, and walk through the green gates to access the trail.

hiking
5 months ago

Outstanding! Definitely worth the butt kicking for the views from the top.

hiking
5 months ago

awesome trail with amazing views at the top. went in mid October and the leaf color was absolutely outstanding, temperature perfect and trail dry and a pleasant hike!!

hiking
6 months ago

Enjoyed walking thru the aspen grove and the views at the top well worth it.

hiking
6 months ago

There are plenty of switchbacks to get you through the early stages of the hike, once you make it past the cabin it gets a bit more demanding but it’s very doable. You’ll traverse your way through aspen groves until you reach the cabin mentioned before. The views from the top are well worth it.

hiking
6 months ago

Steep in some parts, but totally worth the views at the end!!

hiking
6 months ago

Uphill most of the way but shaded with Aspens. Amazing views up top.

hiking
7 months ago

Easy hike with stunning views at the top O

hiking
7 months ago

Dogs off leash are allowed by Forest rule.

hiking
7 months ago

Went while it was raining and it made for a gorgeous hike. Because of the rain bugs didn’t really bite us unless we stopped and even then it wasn’t terrible but I’d recommend bringing bug spray on a sunny day. Lots of beautiful flowers and the view at the top is lovely. This also makes a good mountain bike trail. Would definitely recommend and will be taking friends and family on this hike in the future.

hiking
7 months ago

(Hike 8/4/2019) This was a good trail to “shake the rust off.” Not overly challenging, but definitely had to stop a few times to catch our breath. The field of wild flowers alone made the hike worth it, but the view is beautiful. I regularly ski at Purg and figured it’d be about the same and I was so wrong! We went out just after a rainstorm. Bugs weren’t bad and only really noticed them when we stopped. The trail was very muddy in places, but not impassable or even a deterrent.

hiking
bugs
7 months ago

Beautiful trail. Lots of wildflowers. Great views. Very buggy though on stretch before cabin. We were swarmed by mosquitos so keep some bug spray handy.

hiking
8 months ago

Was excellent; a few sporadic people on trail but very peaceful hike especially through valley of wildflowers.

hiking
8 months ago

8/1 - Beautiful hike today until a BEAR entered the trail just shy of the cabin waypoint. Even though we read about bear safety and had bear spray with us, we didn’t really expect to see one. We retreated back down the trail. Disappointed that we didn’t make it to the top but we didn’t feel comfortable going on with our 8 year old. Otherwise a fun hike with steep but doable switchbacks, wildflowers and a little stream to cross. Trailhead is easy to miss but look for the two gates south of the country store. Parking somewhat limited.

hiking
8 months ago

Trailhead is easy to miss, you have to walk through two gates, on the south end of Needles Country Store parking lot. Great hike, a lot of work climbing up, but the views!!! On the way up, when in doubt stay to the right. Switchbacks make the climb manageable. Beautiful meadow of wildflowers part way up and the view from the top is amazing!

hiking
8 months ago

Trail is great on a clear day (like today). It is quite steep in places, but don't let that stop you! The views from the top are incredible and there are a lot of different places to sit down and rest at the top. There is parking right at the trailhead, but you have to walk through a passage with two gates to get in (the corral as another reviewer called it). Well worth it and all downhill on the way back. Bring trekking poles if you have them.

hiking
8 months ago

Castle rock is a really nice hike. Coming from Illinois, it was certainly not easy for this 48 yr old flat lander. It is a steady climb up to the top. Great views. The trail was heavily trafficked with hikers, mountain bikers and horse riders. Lots of dogs off leash.

hiking
8 months ago

In perfect condition. If you have dogs bring H2O because the upper Creek is dry and the spring by the herders cabin is at a trickle. Very stormy in isolated areas of Co right now watch out for lightening. 84 on the bottom 70 at the summit. IMO this is not a moderate Trail due to elevation gain is short amount of time.

hiking
8 months ago

In perfect condition. If you have dogs bring H2O because the upper Creek is dry and the spring by the herders cabin is at a trickle. Very stormy in isolated areas of Co right now watch out for lightening. 84 on the bottom 70 at the summit. IMO this is not a moderate Trail due to elevation gain is short amount of time.

hiking
8 months ago

Amazing hike. Easy to miss trailhead: it's through the corral. The climb is so worth the effort to see the views from the top. Beautiful wildflowers along the way. When you get to the fork, go right. When you think you've made it to the top, keep curving around for more amazing views. Truly an on top of the world experience.

hiking
8 months ago

I love this hike! Nice out and back with lots of wildflowers and gorgeous views. The snow was completely gone on 7.20.19. Lightly trafficked with hikers, mountain bikers and a small equestrian group.

hiking
8 months ago

Great hike with rewarding views at the end.

hiking
bugs
9 months ago

Steep and lush, not many flowers but lots of vegetation. Gorgeous views. 3 bottles of water if traveling with one human and one dog. Lots of shade on the way up. Go right at the fork.

hiking
9 months ago

Up and down is more 6 miles than the 4.5 listed in this description. The Aspen cotton is floating in the air everywhere. In a couple of spots, the cotton covers the ground, resembling snow. Really cool. Speaking of snow, just 2 or 3 small sections still have snow on the trail. Completely passible though. Snowball fight on July 4th? Yes, thank you very much. The views at the top are as beautiful as always.

hiking
9 months ago

Very small patches of snow in the black forest today on the hike up. The trail is moderate to easy and the view from the top is near perfection!! Mosquitos were manageable with some Deet.

hiking
9 months ago

Still some snow on the trail but it’s passable. Views from the top make it all worth it!

hiking
snow
9 months ago

Warning! We hiked this trail on June 15th. The beginning of the hike you have to cross a stream...which is now filled with raging water from snow melt. It was very hard to find a safe place to cross. As the day melted more snow, the water became worst and hard to cross back over. Also, a lot of snow on upper portion of trail.

9 months ago

Great hike to awesome views

hiking
bugs
muddy
off trail
scramble
snow
10 months ago

Did this hike on 06/01/19. To start this trail you have to enter the gates to the horse/cattle stall looking thing behind the ski shop Make sure you close both gates after you enter. I couldn't find it at first (due to my obliviousness, all trails map is accurate on where it starts) and asked a lady who worked at the ski shop in front of it and she helped me. She was super nice, gave me a few tips on what to expect on the trail and even offers free water bottle refills when you're done with the hike. *NOTE* There is still a lot of snow on this trail. Will definitely recommend waterproof boots and an extra pair of socks if you're going to do this trail around this time due to all the snow. The snow covered most of the trail and on average was about a foot and a half to 2ft deep. Some spots even reached about 3ft. With this being said, even with waterproof boots, snow will still end up in your shoes due to you sinking when stepping in the soft snow on some spots. For the spots that didn't have snow, it was pretty muddy and slippery. Not deterring at all, just need to watch your step. The beginning was easy and pretty much dry. You have to cross a creek which is higher due to the melting snow, if you follow the creek to the left, there is a makeshift log bridge. Dont know how long it will be there though as when i came back down, it was already shifted. After you cross there is a heavy area snow but then is pretty dry for the next few switch backs with minor snow. After that, thats pretty much when the rest of the trail is in snow and slippery mud. Also to note with all that mud there was a lot of bugs. They really didnt bother or swarm me, they were just there. Did not use bug spray and didnt have to swat anything or get bit, they're probably there more for the mud, looked more like flies than anything. After some ways up you'll pass a log cabin which seems to be abandoned, you're about half way, maybe a little bit more than half way there. Beware, i did talk to another hiker on the trail who told me due to all the snow, sometime after you pass the log cabin and continue up the hill, its not the original trail. If it wasnt for the footprints in the snow, i would have definitely got lost. Even with those footprints it was still difficult to keep on track at some points. Eventually after going through some deep snow and sort of thick trees, you'll come acrossed an area which has little snow and is basically mud and rocks. This is a small scramble part you'll have to do. Not too hard, even seen 2 dogs do it, but its a little tricky on the way down. *NOTE* I expect this to be irrelevant once the snow melts but until then, thats how it is. Once you get to the top you're pretty much there. Just follow the edge of the cliff where there is no snow and it will take you to the view point. I tracked this hike and it took me about an hour and 30 minutes to get up, but 15 of those minutes was me stopping to talk to other hikers and take pictures. Its about 2.64 miles up to the top. Over all it took me a little over 3 hours top to bottom. 1 hour up, 1 hour at the top, and 1 hour on the way down. Overall the hike was amazing and the views were definitely worth it! Only a few minor switchbacks here and there, a small scramble spot near the top and some minor steep parts. Once the snow melts this trail could definitely be a family hike. Not super easy but not extremely hard either. 10/10 would definitely recommend this hike. Was quick to get up, not to hard and the views were unbelievable!

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