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Hiking & Walking: Colorado > White River National Forest > Aspen Ranger District

Quick Facts

Hunter Creek Cutoff

Average Time: 1/2 Day
Beginning Elevation: 7,900 Feet (2462.6 Meters)
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain, One-way: 1,050 Feet (327.3 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 7,900 Feet (2462.6 Meters)
High Point: 8,950 Feet (2789.9 Meters)
Recommended Season: Summer to Fall
Trail Number: 21A
Usage: Very Heavy
USGS Maps: Aspen

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

Hunter Creek Cut Off Sign
Copyright: - Interactive Outdoors, Inc.
Hunter Creek Cut Off Sign
Smuggler Road is used heavily by mountain bikes, runners and hikers. Smuggler Road to the overlook deck about 1-1/2 miles up provides a good workout with great views of Aspen, which makes it very popular. The section of trail through Hunter Creek is not as heavily used, but is popular with hikers, mountain bikers, and in the winter, cross country skiers.

Smuggler Road is a fairly well maintained 4 WD road and immediately begins a steep ascent. The switchbacks get longer and in about 1-1/2 miles the road curves behind Smuggler Mountain. There is a short steep path on the right, leading to a platform which is good for viewing Aspen. To continue to Hunter Creek, take the left just after the platform. (Continuing straight will take you to Warren Lakes). There are several side roads, please stay on the main route. The road has some moderate up and down hills. At about the 2 mile mark, there is a gate, go around the gate and continue up the hill. At about the 3-1/2 mile mark there is an old bridge, from here there are several options: 1)You can cross the bridge and turn left, following the trail along the west side of the river and cross back over the Tenth Mountain Bridge. 2)Turn left (don't cross the bridge) and follow the single track on the east side of the river. 3)Cross the bridge, turn left and follow the river along the west side and continue right along the fence line to access Van Horn Park, Sunnyside Trail or Lenado. 4)Cross the bridge, turn left follow the trail along the west side of the river and turn right onto the single track Hunter Creek Trail which leads to the Sunnyside Trail, Van Horn Park, and Lenado. These directions are for options (1) and (2), which converge above the Tenth Mountain Bridge. The single track continues through the meadow and descends steeply through the trees and crosses Benedict Bridge. Keep straight, the trail soon reaches the paved road of Hunter Creek. Take a left and follow Hunter Creek Road to the intersection of Red Mountain Road. Take another left and follow Red Mountain Road back to Aspen.

Directions from Aspen: Travelling east on Main Street in Aspen, turn left (north) onto Mill Street. Travel 1/4 mile and turn right after the bridge onto Gibson. Follow Gibson 1/8 mile to a "Y" intersection and bear left onto South Avenue. Shortly, turn right onto Park Circle and follow for 1/8 mile to the Smuggler Mountain Road on the left. There is parking on the right.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Accessible: June through September (NOTE: The road may be obstructed by snow in Early June and Late September.) .

Current Conditions & Trip Reports
Winter Conditions. Beware of avalanche danger and hypothermia. First section heavily used. Updated: 2002-12-23 14:42:00.0

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Filed By: Kristina Weller (Aspen, CO)
Time of Day: 9 am to 12 pm
Length of Time: 3 hours, which included a quick nap in the valley.
Difficulty: Easy
Number of People Encountered: 11-25 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: I went up Smuggler Mountain, down through the aspen groves, and up the valley a ways where it was so beautiful. I felt compelled to nap a while. Then I headed left down valley, over the river, through the meadow and past the old mining accomadations. After these head left back across the creek and down to hunter creek.
Conditions: Sunny and pretty hot. Some of the rocks on the shady side of Hunter Creek were wet and slippery, but nothing too horrible.
Water Availability: I had 100 oz reservoir and didn't empty it, but was glad I had the extra water just in case. Lots of water available in Hunter Creek if you want to purify it.
Recommended Clothing: I had running shoes, shorts, wicking tanktop and sunglasses.
Suggested Accessories: A fishing pole for the Hunter Creek valley. Trekking poles may come in handy going down the Hunter Creek side. I wish I had a fleece pillow...

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Cross-country Skiing Smuggler Mountain Road to Hunter Creek Trail
ICON Hiking & Walking Smuggler Mountain Road to Hunter Creek Trail
ICON Horseback Riding Smuggler Mountain Road to Hunter Creek Trail
ICON Mountain Biking Smuggler Mountain Road to Hunter Creek Trail
ICON Snowshoeing Smuggler Mountain Road to Hunter Creek Trail

More Information
Frequently Asked Questions
Email the Local Ranger

Visitor Information:

Aspen Ranger District, 806 W. Hallam , Aspen, CO, 81611, Phone: 970-925-3445


Local Lodging

Stay at the Aspen Square Hotel
Stay at the Aspen Square Hotel

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