Baldwin Gulch Trailhead
Info

Location

Range: Sawatch Range
Coordinates: 38.71002, -106.29163
14ers: Mt. Antero
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Road Difficulty

Moderate 4WD, long wheel base vehicles not recommended. Good clearance required. 4   (0=Paved, 6=Very Difficult 4WD)
Easy 2WD dirt to 9,400' at start of the Baldwin Gulch road.
4WD to 12,000' in Baldwin Gulch.
Narrow 4WD to 13,100'.

Driving Directions

From the junction of U.S. 285 and U.S. 24, south of Buena Vista, drive 5.5 miles south on U.S. 285 and turn right (west) on Chaffee County Road 162 - towards Mt. Princeton. Drive almost 12.5 miles on this road (dirt after 10 miles) to reach the signed Baldwin Gulch Jeep Road on the left (also listed as the 277 Road). If you plan on parking here, there are plenty of pull-offs along the road. This is the lower trailhead. Short, high-clearance 4WD vehicles can drive up the 277 road. Above the river crossing (10,850'), there are dispersed camping spots along the side of the road.

Winter Access

Usually closed at the start of the Baldwin Gulch 4WD road.
Status Updates 
  
Posted By: funsizetiff
Info: Able to drive up to 12,850’ before the road becomes impassable due to snow drifts. Last parking before the road blockage is at 12,700’ on the final switchback (at location on attached screenshot).
3 
Posted By: lauradaughtry
Info: Summer conditions. I drove my ’17 Toyota 4Runner (TRD pro trim, but didn’t use any of the bells and whistles) in 4WD low and made it all the way to the end of tree-line with absolutely zero problems. Yes, your 5th gen stock 4Runner would make it up here without issue! Honestly, the roughest part is the 1st mile; but it was hardly a worry. For any off-road enthusiasts, it was a beautiful drive with a few creek crossings. Plenty of pull-off space and areas to move over for passing vehicles coming the opposite direction. As the poster below me noted, the road is narrow at points, and assume people will be driving down from the peak after 12pm in a day; I’d think it considerate to, if you’re going to, drive up early in the morning or very late afternoon/evening.
 
Posted By: Btuperkwh
Info: Haven’t seen a Baldwin Gulch TH report in a while so here it is -->
First time driving up this road so I was a little nervous since I have hiked up and down that road a few times and know the conditions. Drove a lifted Nissan Titan up to the parking area after the dispersed camping spots and before the lower switchbacks to the saddle (~11,000) on Sat 8/21 ~ 7am. I only saw high clearance trucks, 4runners, wranglers, and 2-3 stock SUVs going up. Dispersed camping spots along the way were occupied. There were several 4WDs, ATVs and motorcycles going up the switchbacks and parked at the saddle, Antero summit "gate" parking area and on across the "valley" on White. First mile up the road is definitely worst part as you gain elevation - narrow, rocky, bumpy, rutted road with a few areas for vehicles to pass each other. After that it get a little better, road levels out a bit and there are areas to pullover for passing vehicles - still very rocky and rutty though. 3x stream crossings - easy, no issues. Water was running higher later in the day coming down but still no issues. Started down the road around 2:30pm, you have to go slow through a few of the sections due to the loose rocks and potential sliding. There are about 2-3 places where it gets a little intense going down due to big ruts and rocks but going slow and deliberate works. About 75% of the way down there were a dispersed line of vehicles and ATVs going down for the day - met a couple of vehicles coming up. There were enough pull off spots for the line of vehicles and ATVs (going much faster) to pass each other - no issues. Further down where the road gets very narrow and steep(er) and basically there is very little room for passing. Met a Mule coming up at a steep hairpin curve section with no passing anywhere. The Mule had to back down so we could pass. It seems logical that on a weekend, most of the traffic on the mountain are coming down in the late afternoon (2pm-5pm). Personally, I would go very early morning or wait until after 5pm to go up the road on weekends to avoid the traffic jams on the lower part of the road.
 
Posted By: Jnaffy
Info: Drove up to close to 13 K in a stock jeep wrangler. Definitely a class 4 road. You need to know how to drive lines in certain areas. Stock off-road Ing high clearance vehicle should be fine. I parked at the sign at an intersection. Beyond that road is still doable with the same notations as I listed above for the road blow. There are no pool off spots however should you have any issues so you have to commit beyond 13 K. Water crossings may be 5 inches deep. I honestly dont understand why people are trying to make this a technical class 5/6 road when it is very clearly not but again you need to be the kind of person who knows how to off-road and understands how to pick lines with high clearance. I would say the biggest issue would be minimal areas for passing just like Princeton and no extra room in certain areas to pass. On that note uphill drivers always have right of way!
 
Posted By: bking14ers
Info: I was able to drive a stock Jeep Grand Cherokee to over 13,000 ft. (above the switch backs) And it only cost me $100 for a good used tire afterwards. Seriously! Don’t drive up that road unless you have decent clearance, and good aftermarket off road tires. I tore a hole in the side wall of a tire coming back down right at tree line, then it was an act of God I made it out on the cheap spare. I didn’t think the road was worse than I’ve ever driven on, but it was just so long.
 
Posted By: sctbke
Info: Road seems to have been made a bit more difficult by recent rains. Some larger rocks exposed by the runoff, creek crossing a few hundred yards up 277 is flowing strong. Ended up turning around about a half mile in after a couple scrapes that werent avoidable. 07 Honda Pilot, larger A/T tires, a car that has been over Medano pass, engineer pass, and to nearly every other 14er 4wd trailhead in the state, but not this one! Youll want something better than stock until the rain damage gets better. Ive got 8.5 ground clearance and it wasnt enough to navigate the big rocks, another inch or so would be ideal. Stock Wrangler or TRD 4Runner would do fine with decent line choice. Will summit from browns creek trailhead now instead, road seems like a long hike!
 
Posted By: mvandergrift
Info: While I’m waiting for my wonky knee to heal, I thought I’d check out Mt Antero, the easy, way by driving up to the top of the road (Forest Service Road 278.A / Mount Antero Rd).

Driving my bone stock Wrangler 2-door took 1.5 hours each way. The trip is beautiful, but maybe not the best choice if you’re afraid of heights. Some notable exposure once you get above the treeline. The road narrows a lot towards the top. Thankfully, I only ran into a couple of other vehicles, but this could be an issue at a busier time (I started at 5:30 am). Unlike some other trails I’ve run, the tighter switchbacks here have additional space to allow for larger vehicles to do multi-point turns.

Parking for several vehicles at 12,000’ allows you to skip the last ascent, which is the narrowest and a little more challenging, and hike up from there.

Up until Baldwin Creek, the trail is mostly dry. After that, you run into some drainage on the trail, light mud, and river crossings. None of this caused a problem.

The whole way up is bumpy. Lots of rock and some off-camber stuff. My goal was to avoid scraping my skid plates, which I was able to do, but I had to go slow. It would have been very frustrating to do this without 4-low.

For some reason, I was expecting Mt Antero to be a disappointing dust bowl of a mountain. Instead, I was surprised by how magnificent the entire area was. I’ll have to come back and hike it from the TH in the winter!
 
Posted By: silentsword3
Info: We definitely took our time and I recommend being prepared (tire repair kit, air pump, extra fluids, ect.) and find a proper/comfortable line. We ran into no issues in our 01 4Runner, which is stock suspension but running 2765/75R16 A/T tires (adding about 1.5 extra inch of clearance). Only a tight spot or 2 all the way up to the 12K marker, hit the skid plate once on the way down, but it could have been avoided. Watched another stock 4R driving past the 12K, which definitely seemed doable most of the way up the lower switchbacks, but not worth the risk in my opinion. If you do decide to try this next part of the road, there are a few pull-offs at the turns on the switchbacks. Large snowfield at 12,800 that seemed a MAJOR struggle, even with a well equipped vehicle.
1 
Posted By: Jesskee004
Info: We attempted the road in my standard stock tacoma and made it up to Baldwin gulch with just a few scratches on my skid plate. We made it almost to the top trailhead before one of my tires lost too much air pressure and we had to make the decision to turn around or risk getting stranded. Road is clear, you definitely need high clearance 4wd and it would have been 100 times easier in a jeep wrangler since it’s shorter.
 
Posted By: TakeMeToYourSummit
Info: Guilty as charged. I came into the snow real "confident" Friday night & ended like this. Real lucky 3 of the 4 wheels planted good. Had a fun night in my sleeping bag on the side of the road. Sorry to the first hiker I talked to that morning as I started the conversation by SCREAMING at them...
Started hiking back down the road after sunrise & ran into two guys that were hoping to drive much further up. They hadn’t budgeted for the longer hike and gave me a ride back into BV. I tried 3 of the local offroad recovery companies - none could help me until at least Sunday. I called my friend Chuck who lives in West Glenwood & passed my time nervously waiting in BV.
Once we got back to the scene we placed some Maxtrax under my tires and rigged a winch off a snatch block anchored on trees on both sides of the road. The winch cable snapped! Plan B: tiptoe Chuck’s Jeep above my 4Runner using the Maxtrax. One contact with my truck would lead to it off the road & probably his too! Now above me - we attached his Bubba Rope & with the help of a winch line in front of his Jeep from an ATV from some folks from Pueblo - we pulled the truck clean onto the Maxtrax! We had also built a strap / tall jack configuration on the passenger rear corner to insure I couldn’t drift my tail as we pulled up. The result of this work was that my truck was UNSCATHED! I am extremely blessed to have a friend like Chuck & to get out of the situation the next day. Shredding Cronin can wait. Now just to find my checkbook & make things right...
2 
Posted By: One Sierra Charlie
Info: The road is still blocked by the snow drift mentioned in the 5/16/2021 post. It will probably take another 1-2 weeks for this to melt.
 
Posted By: Eagle Eye
Info: The start of the road looks great, but its very solidly blocked by a huge drift less than a half mile up.
3 
Posted By: daway8
Info: Not much changed since last month - 2WD lot still too much snow to park in but dirt road in front of it is clear and pull off a stones throw away has room for maybe 4 or 5 cars. But dramatic increase of snow on the 4WD road - the huge ice flows were totally buried under snow this time. Saw some beach ball sized roller balls on the 4WD at the start of the day and a couple tiny loose wet slides had barely touched the road on my way back at the end of the day. Recommend not hiking that 4WD road during the heat of the day right now...
4 
Posted By: daway8
Info: 4WD road is a total no go given huge ice flows on the road which make it interesting even trying to hike up (recommend very sharp/new microspikes or even crampons, else be prepared for a sketchy scramble up the hillside to get around). Even 2WD lot had too much snow to be viable to try to park in. Only option right now is small clearing on the side of the road.
3 
Posted By: CaptCO
Info: Two ice slabs within the 1st mile. Found hiking shoe near treeline brought down. Snow on road 2mi from TH. Multiple rock slides; gonna start a petition to close this road soon lol. Trenched to Cronin and Antero yw.
5 
Posted By: Trotter
Info: Road is icy but clear to start of 4WD section. Very snowy and icy up 4WD road, a couple vehicles made it to the ice slick at 0.25 miles in, but then turned around. One vehicle with chains made it farther but also turned around within a mile.
 
Posted By: angry
Info: Dry to th.
 
Posted By: mtgoatmike
Info: Chaffee County Road 162 is great all the way to the trailhead. It is paved for the first 10 miles, then there is a bridge with a sign stating pavement ends. The dirt road is perfect for the remaining 2 miles to the trailhead. It’s a great dirt road that has minimal potholes and washboard. My 2000 Honda Accord took it like a normal Colorado high country road. There is a parking pullout on the right hand side just before the trailhead (forest road 277).
 
Posted By: Btuperkwh
Info: Note: I walked up, did not drive Sun 9/13. Saw 3 vehicles the whole day. 7am, frozen ground whole way up. By 2pm, lots of run-off, slushy ankle deep snow, and slippery mud.
- First mile: Run-off, slushy snow and mud. There are a 1-2 very deep holes/ruts now due to vehicle traffic sliding through the mud and run-off from the past several days. One rut is very close to the drop off edge of the road.
- Second mile to creek crossing: Good shape. Note: Creek crossings are running higher/wider due to run off - watched a high clearance jeep wrangler and 4-runner cross very tentatively. They made it.
- Treeline to switchbacks: Snow and drifts. Switchbacks up were covered in drifts up to knee-deep, waist level. Frozen in the morning and easy to walk on and slush in the afternoon (post-holing all the way down). Gully is the same - frozen snow in the AM and then mud in the afternoon. Note: You can walk on the edge of the road most of the way down without postholing. One jeep was parked at the 1st-2nd switchback (pointed up). Not sure how they got turned around and down with all the mud.
- Trail to summit: Intermittent ’dry’ trail/snow. Snow between the rocks - afternoon melt made them a bit slippery.
 
Posted By: langecorya
Info: I drove a stock 1999 Chevy Tahoe up to 11,800 ft. We could have taken the Tahoe all the way to the top but wanted to stop at tree line to camp and then hike from tree line the next morning. Time from trailhead to tree line took 45 minutes. I never hit the bottom of my Tahoe but would imagine that anything with much smaller clearance (Subaru outback) would struggle to not scrape the bottom. Any vehicle with good clearance and a driver who knows good tire placement could get to the top of this road. The creek crossings were simple with firm rock bases to drive over. Above tree line the trail gets tremendously easier and turns into a basic dirt road. Higher you go, the easier it gets. Overall, really fun off road that will test your abilities.
 
Posted By: ndrew
Info: I drove this road on a stock 2019 Jeep Cherokee with about 8 inches of clearance, no added skid plates, only what came with the Jeep. Stock tires, with standard inflation. It was a white-knuckle experience, but I made it to up the road to the point where the road crosses the creek (a little under 3 miles from the CR-162). There were 3-4 tough spots and a few scrapings of the bottom of the Jeep. The road gets way better at this point, but I decided to stop here as i didn’t want to drive the entire way up the mountain. If you can make it to the creek, you can keep going.

Going down was a different story, since the car was pointed down, I found myself scraping the bottom of the car more than a dozen times. I didn’t like it and it was an unpleasant experience, but it was still better than hiking down. A quick inspection of the car once I made it to the bottom showed definite scrapes on the undercarriage and one of the plastic coverings got torn off. However, no leaks, flat tires, or significant damages, so I consider it a success and totally worth it. So if you are a stock 4WD SUV owner like me and are curious if you can drive this road, the answer is yes, but it won’t be pretty.
 
Posted By: njx9
Info: Not a fun road - I think the first hundred feet (pictured) are pretty representative of the remainder (at least to tree line). Lots of big rocks pinging my running boards and skid plate (stock 2014 4Runner). I wouldnt try this with any less clearance, at this point. I imagine the road is basically as good as it actually gets, right now, but I can imagine it getting significantly worse after an afternoon rain.

If you can get to the creek, you can probably get just about as high as you want.
1 
Posted By: csu-peter
Info: Made it to 11,365’ in a stock 2013 Jeep Compass. This road is about the upper limit for my car as it was pretty intense coming up, however, the road generally becomes easier the higher you go. I did not have enough moment/power to continue over this gradual hump, otherwise, I think I would have made it to 11,150’. For my car, this required extreme caution, keeping momentum, and very thoughtful tire placement.

3000’ of gain... I know, I know..
 
Posted By: KDinCO
Info: The road is a workout and not pretty! I made it to 11,000’ in a stock 4Runner (with snow tires!). Chose to stop and park there as I wanted the 3000’ elev gain. Some unavoidable bigger rocks higher up, then the road smooths out. After the creek crossing there are a lot of smaller rocks that cause traction issues on steeper sections when navigating around larger obstacles.

From reading the previous report, I thought the road would be better shape after the first 100’, but that’s not the case. It has a lot of pretty gnarly spots that require a careful line. I would not attempt this without high clearance. I was also surprised at how narrow the road is in places. Not many passing places. Fine going up at 4:30 am (took about 30 mins to get to 11000’ from the beginning of 277), but coming down around 10:30 am I met with many ATVs, even on a Wednesday! I found it helpful to drive down with my window open so I could hear them approaching. Took about 45 mins to get down.
 
Posted By: JamesK
Info: Made it to a nice campsite around 11,800’ in a stock 4runner TRD just at treeline. Coming down this morning, I think I could have made it to above 13,000’.... plan on 1 hour from 2wd trailhead to 12k both up and down, its a bumpy road.

Note: my climbing partner was driving a standard jeep Cherokee (not grand) and he said he couldn’t have made it more than 100’ past the dirt road onto 277. Subaru’s and lower clearance vehicle’s need to park on the dirt road unless modified or willing to take risk.
 



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