New York Creek Trail, Lincoln Creek Road - New York Creek Trailhead, Aspen - Snowmass, Colorado
New York Creek Trail - 8.2 miles
Lincoln Creek Road - New York Creek Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||8.2 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||10,095' - 12,273' (@ the Pass)|
|Elevation Change:||+2,178' net elevation gain (+2,448' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
New York Creek Trail - 8.2 Miles Round-Trip
New York Creek Trail runs 4.1 miles from Lincoln Creek Road to the Continental Divide in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness. It continues over a 12,273' pass to the Goodwin-Greene Hut (west), Bowman Creek Trail (south) and Ptarmigan Lake (southeast).
This lightly used trail follows New York Creek through attractive forests and meadows into a large alpine basin below Difficult Peak (12,925') and winds steeply up to the Continental Divide. Views are exceptional, and you'll likely see more elk than people in these big open spaces.
Anticipate vague sections, especially above treeline and over the pass. Cairns mark the final push to the Pass, which can be confused for well-worn game tracks following similar routes:
The trail begins on a flat bank along Lincoln Creek, which you'll immediately cross. This ford is wide and can be difficult during peak runoff. Once over there's another small channel of stagnant water that also must be crossed to regain the trail, hidden by dense willow just beyond the water.
Punch through the willow and find a clear trail (.15 miles) that crosses a small meadow and rises steadily on an old roadbed. Keep straight at a large cairn (.6 miles : 10,355') and emerge in a meadow where the trail arcs steeply up to the aqueduct service road (.95 miles : 10,580').
Turn right on the road and follow it past an S-curve over Brooklyn Gulch (1.3 miles) to a sign pointing left off the road back onto the trail (1.45 miles : 10,605'). It enters a verdant, moss-draped forest and crosses the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Boundary at 1.55 miles (10,645').
The trail rises steadily in dark timber above New York Creek to a crossing at 2.25 miles (10,830'), then cuts across large meadows to the west side of the valley. Travel steepens across open slopes with good views across stream-cut meadows below.
It gradually bends away into a high subalpine forest and crosses left over a stream (3.22 miles : 11,475'). There are many good places to camp in this idyllic stretch of forest.
The trail clears treeline (3.5 miles : 11,710') into a vast alpine basin framed by the Divide and Difficult Peak (12,925'). The trail can be faint and cairns may be hard to pick out - a map is helpful to stay on track and avoid game trails which use similar routes to reach the Divide.
The trail generally angles SE through rolling tundra on the final push to the Pass on the Continental Divide (4.1 miles : 12,273'). Views extend down New York Creek, south down Bowman Creek, deep into the Collegiates and across much of the Elk Mountains. Improvised travel is fairly easy on the Divide, but consider your route carefully across delicate tundra vegetation.
- N39 05.648 W106 39.582 — 0.0 miles : New York Creek Trailhead
- N39 05.545 W106 39.620 — .2 miles : Find trail thru willow in open meadow
- N39 05.309 W106 39.937 — .6 miles : Keep straight at cairn on old road bed
- N39 05.130 W106 40.002 — .95 miles : Merge with road and turn right
- N39 04.907 W106 40.268 — 1.3 miles : Follow S curve on road over Brooklyn Gulch
- N39 04.902 W106 40.397 — 1.45 miles : Veer left back onto trail
- N39 04.844 W106 40.453 — 1.55 miles : Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Boundary
- N39 04.375 W106 40.852 — 2.25 miles : Cross creek to right and cut across meadow
- N39 04.153 W106 41.133 — 2.65 miles : Moderate travel up meadow
- N39 03.806 W106 41.530 — 3.22 miles : Cross creek to left and regain trail
- N39 03.696 W106 41.608 — 3.5 miles : Clear treeline into big alpine basin (11,710')
- N39 03.402 W106 41.663 — 3.9 miles : Steep push to pass
- N39 03.334 W106 41.704 — 4.1 miles : New York Creek Pass (12,273')
- The New York Creek Trail can be faint once above treeline. Follow cairns closely and avoid well-defined animal tracks that follow similar routes across the alpine basin up to various saddles on the Divide.
- The Lincoln Creek ford is wide and can be difficult during peak runoff. Once over there's another small channel of stagnant water that also must be crossed to gain the trail, which is hidden just beyond the water through dense willow.
- The New York Creek Trailhead is located on a wide, flat section of Lincoln Creek with good access for anglers.
Camping and Backpacking Information
Campgrounds and Designated Sites on Lincoln Creek Road:
Camping and campfires are only permitted at Lincoln Gulch Campground (7 sites), Portal Campground (5 sites) and in 22 designated pull-out sites along Lincoln Creek Road. Dispersed camping is not permitted along the road beteween these 22 sites (3 mile mark) and the Portal Campground.
- Dispersed backcountry camping is permitted in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness. No fees or permits are required.
- Camping is prohibited within 100' of any trail, lake or stream. Group size is limited to 15 individuals (or 25 with people + stock).
- Campfires are permitted in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, with potential seasonal restrictions. Campfires are not permitted above or within .25 miles (440 yards) of treeline, or within 100' of any trail, lake or stream. Seasonal and location-specific restrictions may also apply.
- Contact the Aspen Ranger District (970.925.3445) or Sopris Ranger District (970.963.2266) for the latest weather, trail conditions and trail-specific guidelines when planning your trip.
- Fishing is permitted along Lincoln Creek, Brooklyn Gulch, New York Creek and the Roaring Fork River with a valid Colorado fishing license. Contact the Colorado Division of Wildlife or the Aspen | Sopris Ranger Stations to learn more about potential restrictions and limits on the Roaring Fork.
Rules and Regulations
- Dogs must be leashed at all times in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness.
- Camping and campfires are only permitted at Lincoln Gulch Campground (7 sites) Portal Campground (5 sites) and in 22 designated pull-off sites along Lincoln Creek Road. Dispersed camping is not permitted along Lincoln Creek Road between the 3 mile mark and Portal Campground.
Directions to Trailhead
The New York Creek Trailhead is located on Lincoln Creek Road off Highway 82, 12.7 miles east of downtown Aspen.
From Original Street in Aspen, turn east on Highway 82 toward Independence Pass and travel 9.5 miles to Lincoln Creek Road. Turn right and continue 3.2 miles to the marked pull off for New York Creek Trailhead on the right.
Lincoln Creek Road is a very rough road. 4WD is not necessary but high clearance is a must. 4WD is preferable. If uncomfortable driving at any point, use a pullout and walk the road (it may not take much more time to walk than drive).
Aspen Ranger District
806 West Hallam
Aspen, CO 81611
Sopris Ranger District
620 Main Street
Carbondale, CO 81623
White River National Forest
900 Grand Ave.
P.O. Box 948
Glenwood Springs CO 81602
970.945.2521 | 970.319.2670