Cuba Gulch Trailhead


Range: San Juan Mountains

Road Difficulty

Easy 4WD, good clearance recommended. 3   (0=Paved, 6=Very Difficult 4WD)
Trailhead for Cuba Gulch access to Centennial Half Peak and Snare Gulch Approach to Centennial Jones and Bicentennial Niagara. 4WD (stock Tacoma - basic 4WD skills) road extends 3.4 miles from Cataract Gulch Trailhead, including one stream crossing. Driveable road concludes at Cuba Gulch TH although track continues up "Snare Stairs" and into basin below east side of Jones Peak. "Snare Gulch Approach" (described in Roach & Roach 13'ers guide) beyond Cuba Gulch closed by signage, creek cut, downed trees, and scree/talus slides covering road at upper SS switchbacks. You are walking from Cuba Gulch TH onward.

Driving Directions

Proceed 3.4 additional miles beyond Cataract Gulch Trailhead, which is located on the Sherman Road (Hinsdale County Road 35), 15.5 miles total from Lake City.

Winter Access

Status Updates 
Posted By: madmattd
Info: Rough road, probably more a 3.5 rating due to a few tricky spots. We took a lightly lifted Tacoma up and only used 4L in a couple spots on the ascent, no problems but we both agreed that lesser vehicles should steer clear (a very careful driver might get an Outback or similar AWD vehicle up this road, but it’s really not a good idea). The first rough spot is only 1-2/10mi up the road, and another a few tenths after. A few more rougher spots in the middle, then a fairly mild 4WD road from there to the TH. I’ve included a couple pics of the lower obstacles, they are rougher than the pictures make it seem, clearance is the major need on these.
Posted By: GordoByrn
Info: Hasn’t been one this year so I thought I’d add.
Drove this last Wednesday, after doing Nellie Creek the afternoon before.
Rolls like you’d expect for this rating - used 4Lo the whole way.
Agree that Cataract is 2WD right now, up from there it gets tougher.

Drove it clean on up, touched twice on the way down
4Runner with off-road package and no lift.

If you are heading up, or down, Cuba Gulch trail then make sure you have your navigation sorted.
Avy debris (~0.5M up) and mud slide debris (~1M up) the trail have destroyed the track.
Flagging tape has been placed through the avy debris, then the trail ends just before the mud slide.
As old trip reports state, the trail comes and goes - in fact, I think it’s being maintained by animals - lots of large game around and the "trail" winds around with multiple options.

From Half Peak, I came direct into the first drainage (rather than CDT to the top of Cuba Gulch) so I didn’t see the condition of the top of the Cuba Gulch trail.
Took the furthest south gully (west side of south ridge) straight down.
Stayed descender’s right, and high, to avoid the willows until treeline.
I passed the "bump" in the basin to its right (Pt 12,522 on the quad)
Once at treeline, used animal tracks down to where the gulch trail shows on the USGS Quad sheet.
Trail wasn’t there but I found it with about ~1M left to the trailhead (between mud slide and avy debris).
The bushwhacking was not that tough, just slow.

Heading west from the TH there is an old road which gives straightforward, and quick, access west, and northwest, into the basin.
American, Niagara, Crown, Jones - trip reports on all those on the site.

Posted By: Trotter
Info: Immediately past Cataract Gulch TH, road goes 4WD. Possibly suburuable with very slow and experienced driver, but I think stock 4WD is necessary. 3 or 4 tough places in the first mile, but then gets easier. Not many passing spots
Posted By: CaptCO
Info: Tougher than expected. Easier version of Nellie Creek/SCL but clearance and 4wd/AWD recommended. Easy access to Jones, wasnt able to attempt half peak unfortunately
Posted By: Alrightmax
Info: Cuba Gulch is Subaruable to the trailhead for an experienced driver. The fist mile or so is the worst, if you can get past that you’re golden. There is severe avalanche damage to land in the first half of the road; some lower campsites may be inaccessible, but the road is clear.
Posted By: Furthermore
Info: Road is plowed and accessible by any 2WD to the Cataract Gulch TH.
Posted By: Danger_D
Info: I made it all the way up with my stock RAV-4, but this is about the limit of what the car could handle. A few gentle dings, but it was all doable. If you have a mid-sized SUV you should be fine, but I wouldn’t make this your introduction. There are about a dozen campsites along the road, but a lot of avy debris got rid of a few. The last good campsite is about .7 miles before the trailhead
Posted By: gb
Info: Road is clear and open to Cataract. .5 miles past the Cataract trailhead is the first of many historically large avalanches blocking the road with thousands of downed trees- one of the largest and most destructive slides I have seen. Debris covered approx .6 miles of road and took 1.5 hours to navigate. Road to Cuba would encounter several other large slides, though I do not believe any would be quite as large as the first one.
Posted By: Ghigs
Info: Made it to the trailhead on a stock Honda Pilot. Stream crossing was surprisingly straightforward given how high the creeks all are.
Posted By: San Juan Ron
Info: Clear 1.3 miles beyond Cataract Gulch before you encounter sporadic drifts. If you are creative, you can get maybe another .5 mile. SJ Ron
Posted By: SnowAlien
Info: TH is open and plowed to Cataract Gulch TH. Snowmobile track for initial 2 miles, bootpack/snowshoe and now skin track after that. Tracks appeared to have continued in the direction of Snare gulch past the Boulder gulch turnoff.
Posted By: San Juan Ron
Info: Open to within .5 mile or so of TH. Road is a bit rough. I recommend parking at 4M from split with CR 30 or just beyond creek crossing. SJ Ron
Posted By: San Juan Ron
Info: You can drive 1.9 miles beyond the Cataract Gulch TH before you encounter a major slide area with lots of downed trees. SJ Ron
Posted By: Ski4me
Info: The road still has snow drifts about 1.5 miles past Grouse/Burns Gulch Trailhead. We decided to climb Half Peak and not Jones as we were not sure our 4x4 would not get stuck on one of the drifts.
Posted By: sdkeil
Info: Road is plowed and clear to the winter closure at the Cataract Gulch TH.
Posted By: San Juan Ron
Info: The usual snow barricade is easily crossed. You can get to within 1.5 miles of Cuba Gulch THs before large snowfields become an major issue.
SJ Ron
Posted By: 14ersKen
Info: 05/28/2012- Cuba Gulch trail head is open all the way to the trailhead. It is 3.4 miles up. At 2.5 miles you cross a creek that is probably 8 inches deep, not too bad. The road is pretty rough in spots. I made it safely in my Subaru Outback.
Posted By: Wyoming Bob
Info: Road clear and dry but for stream crossing. Crossing was a non issue in stock Tacoma (6 to 12" water, solid gravel bed). Driveable road terminates 3.4 miles beyond Cataract Gulch TH.
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