Difficult Creek

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 6.2 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 8105 - 9374 feet
Cellphone: 0-1 bars
Time: 3 hrs.
Trailhead: Difficult Day Use Area
Fee: none
Attractions: Forest hike




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The Difficult Creek trail is located in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Area of the White River National Forest near Aspen, Colorado. The trail begins at the Difficult Creek Day Use Area off of Highway 82 and ascends the mountainside to Difficult Creek where it continues up the creek past an old cabin to the turnaround point about 3 miles from the trailhead. Adventurous hikers can continue past the turnaround point but the trail is not maintained and they will have to deal with fallen trees and boulders.


To get to the trailhead drive about 5 miles east of Aspen and turn right into the Difficult Campground. Just before reaching the campground make another right turn into the parking area of the Difficult Day Use Area. At present the Day Use Area does not require a fee.


The trailhead is near the southeast corner of the Day Use Area.


The trail begins heading east up the drainage passing a connecting trail to the campground and crossing the road to the Group campsite.


A wooden bridge takes the trail across the Roaring Fork River.


After crossing the bridge the trail continues heading up the valley without ever gaining much in elevation.


At about the half mile point the trail enters the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Area.


From this point on the trail begins climbing more earnestly..


The forest various between stands of aspen, douglas firs and spruce trees.


The steepest section of trail comes as the trail turns back toward the west and angles up the mountain toward Difficult Creek.


As the trail turns south into the Difficult Creek drainage it begins leveling off quite a bit.


Right around the 3 mile point of the hike is where most hikers turn around. At present the trail isn't maintained beyond this point and fallen trees make hiking a lot more difficult. The Forest Service describes the rest of the trail as a 'pristine' wilderness trail.


The remains of an old cabin are about 1000 feet before the normal turn around point. Look on the west side of the trail and about 50 feet away.


Scenic overlooks are rare on the Difficult Creek trail. There are only a couple of places where the trees thin out enough to see past them.


The Difficult Creek trail gains about 1200 feet of elevation but due to the route that it takes it isn't all that difficult of a hike. Especially for anyone accustomed to mountain hiking. If one were to try to follow the creek from its confluence with the Roaring Fork River then it would indeed be very difficult and that is probably how the creek originally earned its name. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.