Grays Peak Trailhead
Info

Location

Range: Front Range
Coordinates: 39.66087, -105.78462
14ers: Grays Peak, Torreys Peak
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Road Difficulty

2WD, rough dirt road 2   (0=Paved, 6=Very Difficult 4WD)
Normally it's Rough 2WD to the TH but some years it gets rough and might require 4WD. It always requires good-clearance.

Driving Directions

NOTICE: In summer, 2021, the Clear Creek County Sheriff stopped allowing parking along the road to the trailhead. They have said they will ticket people who do so and you will see "No Parking" signs along the road. So, get up there very early and if the parking is full, you'll have to drive back down to the bottom of the road and walk up. Awful, I know.

Take I-70 to the Bakerville exit (#221). Leave the highway and drive south over to the dirt parking area near the start of Forest Road 189. This is the winter trailhead and even if the upper road is open, low-clearance passenger cars should park here. It's almost 3 miles to the summer trailhead. Continue up the Grays Peak (189) road. After 1 mile, stay straight at a junction. Continue another 2 miles to the trailhead, at 11,280'. There are restrooms and a few dispersed camping spots near the parking area.

Winter Access

Closed at the start of the 189 road, near I-70.
Status Updates 
  
Posted By: Misi197
Info: Summer conditions minus a few patches of snow/ice which actually make the trip easier as they smooth off some of the bumpiness. A few trucks and a few Subarus in the lot this afternoon, including an Impreza with about 2 inches of clearance.
 
Posted By: Vacas Valley
Info: Quite bumpy, with some significant ruts, good clearance 2WD will make it no problem. Cars were already parked in the no parking areas by Of the road by 4 AM this morning, lot was busting at the seams.
 
Posted By: Misi197
Info: Rockier trip up than I remember from previous travels to this trailhead. Maybe it is just the end of season wear and tear? Regardless, it is bumpy, but Subaruable. The "Yolo of the Day" award went to some guy in a Hyundai sedan, which I can only hope was not his car. The giant pit at the house has been repaired. It is still rocky there, but nowhere near as tricky as previous years.
 
Posted By: chassis
Info: Poor road as always. Maybe worse than last year.

Many smaller cars can make the trip to the TH, just need to choose your line. I saw Tiguan, CR-V, RAV4, Corolla up there today. Plus the usual Jeeps, pickup trucks and larger SUVs.

50% filled upper parking lot at 6am on a Tuesday.
 
Posted By: naomiel23
Info: Went to hike up Grays and Torreys with some friends and arrived at the lower parking lot by 3:40 am to see the lot already 25% full. The road to the upper lot has some serious potholes and does require a high clearance vehicle. Those that went up in low clearance vehicles had issues with bottoming out and many turned around and went back down (had two friends walk up from the bottom lot that witnessed this happen). It takes a lot of maneuvering around the pot holes and unfortunately after our hike we found that there were lots of cars parked along the road were it is no longer allowed and made it difficult to get around large pot holes on our drive down from the upper lot.

Drove to the upper lot to find absolute chaos at 4am, the parking lot was full and people were still coming up the road. We were able to fine a spot past the main lot up on a steep hill and out of the way next to 4 other cars. Last time I attempted Grays on the weekend the last spot was taken by myself at around 5:15 am and that was in the actual upper lot back in 2018.

I would highly suggest avoiding Grays and Torreys on the weekend and attempt it on a week day. The weekend is crawling with people and there is no parking.

We also started hiking around 5 am when our friends arrived from the lower lot and we picked up tons of trash on the way up. Starbucks wrappers and napkins, tissues all over the place, different wrappers. Very disappointing to see the trail littered. If you do go please pack out what you pack in.
 
Posted By: Alan Arnette
Info: Hiked Grays today with some friends and I camped at the TH on Friday night. Arriving at 8:00 pm, the parking lot was almost empty but there were a dozen or more camps in the upper parking area (the old mine road). When I went to meet my friends arriving at 3 am, the entire lot was 100% full and the small area by the TH sign was filled with cars parked horizontally, in other words, not head in thus they reduced the capacity by at least 50%. Hard to understand. When we left at 11 am today, Saturday, the road was packed with cars on the West side of the road everywhere there was not a specific "no parking sign" Also almost every pull-in/off spot along the road had a car.
 
Posted By: Lville
Info: For those who wish to park in the upper lot but don’t want to arrive at 3am - we intentionally drove up on Sunday nite 8.22 and pitched a tent because we did not know what to expect on a Monday after most schools were in session. Very few cars at 7p when we arrived and only a few tents. We easily found a nice space for vehicle and tent. Then, even when we started our hike at 7:15a on Monday 8.23, the upper lot was no more than 75% full. So a decent shot at nabbing a space at 7:30a or even 8a - but I wouldn’t push it.
 
Posted By: CommanderDawn
Info: Monday 5:00am, very bright full moon, the main parking area of the upper lot was about half full. Road to TH made in a stock Forester without issue.
 
Posted By: constipated_pete
Info: Arrived at 4:30 on Sunday 8/22, got one of the last spots at the upper trailhead. Get there early!
 
Posted By: JonHandshake
Info: Arrived at the trailhead at 5am on a Saturday and it was completely full. The lower lot was about 75% full when we passed it on our way down (~ 5:45am). It is now 6:45am and I am back home
 
Posted By: Alan Arnette
Info: Arrived at 6:00 AM on Wednesday, August 18, 2021, and found about 40% available spots in the main area, with the upper section completely empty.
 
Posted By: sankshah
Info: Trailhead as expected. No blockers. Dry condition. Parking hard to find after 7:45 AM. So please have an alpine start.
 
Posted By: eudyke
Info: The 3 mile road up to the trailhead was much better than I thought it would be based on past posts. There were moderate potholes and lots of loose rock, but certainly passable or avoidable. Dont get me wrong, it was a rough and bumpy ride, but it doesnt require four wheel drive as the road is dry and firm.
The bathrooms at the trailhead were a mess with all PT dispensers empty. However the parking was plentiful and the trail well maintained. Several trail workers were tending to it today.
 
Posted By: climbskiyogi
Info: Drove the road last year and drove it today as well in a Subaru Outback. I am normally terrified on 4WD roads, but I actually enjoy driving this one (could be something wrong with me). Saw a Dodge Charger or something of the like at the summer TH - although that I would not recommend.
 
Posted By: peak576
Info: Decided to preview this road on the way back from Leadville yesterday 7/31. Driving our lifted Grand Cherokee (12+ clearance & 10 ply off-road tires) was a bumpy but fun ride. However our other car is a stock Hyundai Tucson (6.4inches of ground clearance) - I would definitely not bring the latter up here on this road. Saw only other trucks and jeeps up at the trailhead. Enjoy!
 
Posted By: Dodsch
Info: The already mentioned potholes about halfway got really bad. I made it with my Subaru Outback but I think I just got lucky. An oncoming driver recommended staying all the way to left if going up and all the way to the right going down and it worked but the potholes are massive. Coming down, there where several trucks and other well known offroad vehicles parked on the road together with lots of SUVs that could not make it past those potholes. But there were also lots of SUVs in the parking lot, so you can make it, just think about the risk.
I did not see any tickets at 11am on a Wednesday on those cars parked below the potholes along the road.
 
Posted By: Mt_DAN
Info: Serious muddy ruts halfway up the road. Fine for stock 4x4. Think twice if you have a 2 wheel drive sedan.
 
Posted By: CraigE
Info: Parking:
We got to the trailhead around 5:25 Monday morning. There were only 2 or 3 empty spaces left in the main lot, but there was still quite a bit of room to park further up the dirt road past the restrooms. I think you can legally park there(?)

Potholes:
As reported earlier, there’s a group of potholes about 1.6 miles up the dirt road that were giving some people trouble. I saw maybe 20 cars, SUVs, and even trucks that parked along the road just below the potholes rather than go over them. But my Subaru Forester cleared them fine, as did dozens of other SUVs and trucks that were parked at the trailhead. (I found a straight line that let my tires straddle the big potholes in the center of the road and roll through the edges of the potholes on either side, and my car didn’t peel out or scrape.)
 
Posted By: cdgibbons
Info: The dirt holes referenced two posts ago (at mile 1.6) turned around several lower-clearance AWDs this morning, including mine. These look to be getting worse as people try and get through them and spin, and given the more optimistic reports previously, I’d guess this section has deteriorated a lot in the past few weeks. Hiking from I-70 adds 3 miles each way and 1400’. Parking lot appeared to have just filled at 615 AM (Friday) and there was a county sheriff visiting the lot at 6 AM.
 
Posted By: penadam
Info: Trailhead parking full prior to 5AM Sunday morning. Many people also parked along the road below the majority of the no-parking signs, didn’t see any tickets or boots on them on the way down at 11ish. Lots of overnight campers in and around the lot as well. Unless you’re doing that, may just resign yourself to the extra mileage from I70.
 
Posted By: astromuni
Info: I found the road to the trailhead pretty rough. I drove the approach to Elbert Southeast slopes and I thought this was a lot trickier to navigate. In particular one section near a private residence/structure has these massive dirt scoop-outs. Took me a couple tries to get up it. I arrived around 4am and the lot was basically full. I found a spot flush with the parallel parked cars that didn’t block anyone of dubious legality ...

... plenty of people were parked along the road, though no one near an explicit "no parking sign" and there was a big gap around the private property section. I don’t know if all those spots were legal but no one was ticketed today (a Saturday). Maybe Clear Creek’s town budget is in great shape already.

Everyone at the trailhead was chatting about the fines. Someone said they were $50 ... someone said $90. Maybe $200? Whatever the price, these people were clearly comfortable paying it. Just another barrier to entry for low-income and/or ill-informed hikers.

Grays is known to be an entry level 14er close to town. A lot of people who are intimidated by statements like "real mountaineers just add another 1000 vertical feet" come to try it. It’s really a shame that someone important has determined the amount of parking that existed 10-20 years ago is obviously sufficient for today. That the "correct level of usage" is what it was then. I’ll happily pay all the parking fines in the world if it means they’ll add gravel and expand access. The mountains should be for everyone.
 
Posted By: GS4321
Info: Lost: Garmin inReach Mini (Orange)
Lost my Garmin inReach Mini in the parking lot yesterday 7/8/2021. If someone reads this and is willing to mail it back to me, that would be fabulous!
I already continued my trip and am too far away to return and get it myself.
I’ll cover the cost of course, contact me at gschobbe@gmail.com for details.
Approximate location: see arrow in image below.
The unit is deactivated so it will no longer connect to the Iridium network.
1 
Posted By: Dobby
Info: With 30,000 to 35,000 hikers attempting Grays and Torreys, access for emergency vehicles and property owners has been a nightmare for years.
Clear Creek County is restoring the health, beauty and sanity of Steven’s Gulch by prohibiting parking along the road - parking is ONLY allowed at the top lot or Bakerville, and all other vehicles will be fined or towed.
If you find the top lot full, you will need to drive back to Bakerville and hike the road. Or, simply start at Bakerville - real mountaineers won’t mind the additional easy mileage to help preserve a wonderful valley.
 
Posted By: SmjLuke
Info: Road is in good condition. Most loose rock graded to the edge.
Enforcement signs shown in photos.
3 
Posted By: Ted_Sward
Info: The road is dry and dust free since we’ve had rain just about daily for the last two weeks. It takes 20-30 minutes from the Bakerville exit unless you want to bump the heck out of your vehicle and passengers. Just about any all wheel drive or 4 wheel drive SUV should be able to make it up fine. I think I heard our Jeep Wrangler 4 door giggle as we drove up.
 



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