Woody Creek Trail, Woody Creek Trailhead, Aspen - Snowmass, Colorado

Woody Creek Trail - 18.4 miles

Woody Creek Trailhead

The Woody Creek Trail

The Woody Creek Trail

Round-Trip Length: 18.4 miles
Start-End Elevation: 8,785' - 10,443' (11,652' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +1,658' net elevation change (+4,506' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Strenuous
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Woody Creek Trail - 18.4 Miles Round-Trip

The Woody Creek Trail runs 9.2 miles through diverse forests across the Woody Creek and Hunter Creek drainages. This long and lightly used trail follows Woody Creek to its south fork headwaters, then rolls over a steep ridge and drops to the Hunter Creek side.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

The Woody Creek Trail is primarily used to access the Marcy and McNamara huts and few travel it's entire length, which arguably goes nowhere in particular. Visitors will find a great deal of solitude once past connections for these huts.

While no one landmark stands out the trail features verdant forests, large meadows and great views across the Hunter-Fryingpan and Maroon Bells wilderness areas from high points along the way.

There's good camping terrain along Woody Creek and wildlife is active in these fecund forests, especially during shoulder seasons. The trail is vague in many places but intuitively followed with cut logs and tree notches providing reliable guidance:

The trail begins in a narrow corridor hemmed between talus-strewn walls and the creek. Remain alert for bears as you pass through overgrown brush and concentrations of currant, thimbleberry and raspberry. Sight may be limited here during peak summer growth.

It crosses to the north side of Woody Creek (.4 miles) and passes the Wilderness boundary (.8 miles) on a rugged path that gradually clarifies to another crossing at 1.5 miles (9,425').

It rises to the Spruce Creek Trail split (1.55 miles : 9,505') and steepens away on a clearer path above the creek. Travel now moderates for long stretches in a notably verdant forest to a stream crossing that leads you up the south fork of Woody Creek (3.65 miles : 10,295').

Once over the trail loses clarity and turns sharply up the side of a boulder field; pay close attention on this vague, shifting segment. It crosses the creek again (3.95 miles - now just the smaller south fork) and regains clarity up to an expansive meadow (4.25 miles : 10,748'). This is a great place to see wildlife and fine turnaround point for day hikes.

It skirts the meadow before turning back into thick timber and climbing steeply above it on a SE arc near the upper valley rim. The forest gradually thins and breaks at a meadow (5.55 miles : 11,395'); follow cairns straight across to find the trail on the far side.

A good path continues on a challenging push through treeline to the divisive ridge between drainages (5.95 miles : 11,592'). It fades on the open ridge but cairns lead across and down the south (Hunter Creek) side where it clarifies in a reconstituted forest.

The trail drops steeply to Deer Park (7.05 miles : 11,010') and undulates past this large meadow into dry, thinly-treed south-facing slope. Downhill travel eases with great views of the Elk Mountains to the Hunter Creek Trail junction at the Slab Park meadows (9.2 miles : 11,443').

The north (right) fork of the Hunter Creek Trail leads up to Bald Knob (11,092') and the McNamara Hut, and continues on a primitive path back to the Woody Creek Trail to form a loop. Only experienced hikers should attempt this route.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N39 14.681 W106 45.104 — 0.0 miles : Woody Creek Trailhead
  • N39 14.632 W106 44.681 — .4 miles : Cross bridge over Woody Creek
  • N39 14.648 W106 44.235 — .8 miles : Hunter - Fryingpan Wilderness Boundary
  • N39 14.606 W106 43.772 — 1.25 miles : Rugged, brushy travel at base of rockslide
  • N39 14.649 W106 43.515 — 1.5 miles : Cross creek on bridge
  • N39 14.651 W106 43.477 — 1.55 miles : Spruce Creek Trail split (9,510')
  • N39 14.500 W106 42.958 — 2.1 miles : Steep push in mixed forest
  • N39 14.337 W106 42.416 — 2.7 miles : Grade moderates in heavy, verdant forest
  • N39 14.302 W106 41.521 — 3.55 miles : Fast travel on mild grade
  • N39 14.295 W106 41.391 — 3.65 miles : Cross Creek to right
  • N39 14.108 W106 41.197 — 3.95 miles : Cross creek and begin steep, rugged climb
  • N39 14.009 W106 40.954 — 4.25 miles : Trail skirts base of large meadow
  • N39 13.921 W106 40.436 — 4.8 miles : Steep climb over meadow
  • N39 13.667 W106 40.068 — 5.35 miles : Forest thins into alpine meadows
  • N39 13.602 W106 39.796 — 5.55 miles : Follow cairns across high meadow
  • N39 13.414 W106 40.001 — 5.95 miles : Emerge in open ridge between drainages
  • N39 13.376 W106 40.315 — 6.28 miles : Follow cairns on vague path onto south side of ridge
  • N39 13.298 W106 40.568 — 6.5 miles : Begin steep drop in high forest
  • N39 13.084 W106 41.135 — 7.05 miles : Level across big meadow in Deer Park
  • N39 12.835 W106 41.790 — 7.8 miles : Travel moderates across high open glades
  • N39 12.983 W106 42.537 — 8.65 miles : Mild-moderate descent into expanding glades
  • N39 13.048 W106 43.147 — 9.2 miles : Trail ends at Hunter Creek junction (10,443')

Worth Noting

  • Long segments of this trail are vague and potentially hard to follow with snow cover. Cut logs and notches on trees offer regular and reliable guidance along the entire trail.
  • Be mindful of bears on the first 1.5 miles where berries are concentrated and sight can be limited by tall growth.

Camping and Backpacking Information

Backcountry Camping

  • Dispersed backcountry camping is permitted in the Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness. No fees or permits are required.

  • Camping is prohibited within 100' of any trail, lake or stream. Group size is limited to 15 individuals (or 25 with people + stock).

  • Campfires are permitted in the Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness, with potential seasonal restrictions. Campfires are not permitted above or within .25 miles (440 yards) of treeline, or within 100' of any trail, lake or stream. Location-specific restrictions may also apply.

  • Contact the Aspen Ranger District (970.925.3445) or Sopris Ranger District (970.963.2266) for the latest weather, trail conditions and trail-specific guidelines when planning your trip.

Fishing Information

  • Fishing is permitted on Woody Creek and Hunter Creek with a valid Colorado fishing license. 

Rules and Regulations

  • Dogs must be leashed at all times in the Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness.

Directions to Trailhead

The Woody Creek Trailhead is located 11.3 miles from Highway 82, just east of the town of Lenado.

The Woody Creek turnoff is approximately 7 miles west of Aspen and .75 miles west of Brush Creek Road (Snowmass Village turnoff) on Highway 82. 

Turn on to Woody Creek Road and follow it down to and across the river to a fork. Turn left at the fork and follow it past Woody Creek Tavern through the town of Woody Creek. Take a sharp right turn (2.6 miles from the highway) onto Woody Creek Road / #18 / FDR Road #103. Stay on this road for 8.7 miles to the trailhead.

The trailhead is approximately .75 miles past the small town of Lenado, just before the bridge over Woody Creek.

The last 8.7 miles on Woody Creek Road / #18 / #103 are narrow, winding and susceptible to falling rock. Be mindful of cyclists and oncoming traffic. The last 4.7 miles follow a graded dirt road suitable for all cars in good condition.

Contact Information

Aspen Ranger District
806 West Hallam
Aspen, CO 81611

Sopris Ranger District
620 Main Street
Carbondale, CO 81623

White River National Forest
900 Grand Ave.
P.O. Box 948
Glenwood Springs CO 81602
970.945.2521 | 970.319.2670

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