McNamara Hut from Hunter Creek Trailhead/Standard Winter Route

Total Mileage


Trailhead Elevation


Cumulative Elevation Gain



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Route Description

This route follows old, well-defined logging roads and is well marked with blue diamonds. There are, however, several confusing junctions, and finding the trailhead can be trying. If you start from the Hunter Creek Trailhead you’ll soon need climbing skins, so put them on before you start.

Walk from the Hunter Creek Trailhead back to the road and walk uphill through two stone pillars. Continue walking on this road through a switchback and then look for the ski trail on your right. Put your skis on here and ski a fairly level trail NE through scrub oak 1/8 mile, then across the Benedict Bridge over Hunter Creek. From here the trail climbs steeply for 3/4 mile on the south side of Hunter Creek, then breaks out into an open area at 8,600 feet elevation. Continue NE through lower angled open areas for 1/4 mile, then turn N and cross the 10th Mountain Bridge over Hunter Creek (8,640 feet). This bridge is usually easy to spot, but could be elusive in poor visibility. In that case, stay close to the stream past 8,600 feet elevation and you’ll bump into the bridge.

After you cross the 10th Mountain Bridge, continue N for a few hundred feet, then make a climbing traverse west to within sight of a sturdy fence and private home. Staying about 100 feet E from the fence, begin climbing N again and you will intersect a clearly visible snow-covered road at about 8,720 feet. Follow the road as it takes a 1 1/3 mile climbing traverse to Lower Van Horn Park at Lenado Gulch. Take care not to turn left into Lenado Gulch. Just continue on an easterly tack across Lower Van Horn Park, then climb NE through another aspen forest into Van Horn Park—a classic alpine “open space.”

Read your map with care and ski up the north side of Van Horn Park to Lower Van Horn Saddle (really just a low-angled shelf) at 9,760 feet. Continue along the north side of the park to Upper Van Horn Park, then Upper Van Horn Saddle, a more definitive saddle at 9,925 feet, just E of point 10,097. From Upper Van Horn Saddle, ski easterly up a well-marked, narrow road-cut through the forest. This road gradually climbs 2 miles to the McNamara Hut. Generally, this trail is easy to follow. If you happen to catch it unbroken, use your compass and altimeter, and take care to not drop N down into the dense timber and steep terrain of the Woody Creek drainage. You’ll usually smell wood smoke before you see the hut, as it is hidden by trees until you are within a few hundred feet.

Locations of Observed or Reported Avalanche Activity: No avalanche activity has been reported along this suggested route.

Trailhead Directions

To reach the Hunter Creek Trailhead, start in the town of Aspen. Follow Main Street in Aspen to Mill Street (the stoplight near the center of town, next to the Hotel Jerome). Turn N on Mill and drive a short distance down a hill, then across a bridge over the Roaring Fork River (.25 miles). Bear left after the bridge and follow the Red Mountain Road 1 mile to its second switchback. Just before the switchback, turn right and downhill on the Hunter Creek Road. Drive approximately .3 miles on Hunter Creek Road, then take a hard left on an unpaved driveway that leads up past a water tank 300 feet to a parking area. The actual trailhead is farther up the mountain, but this is the only parking.

You have several choices for foot travel to the actual trailhead. The simplest method is to walk back down the driveway to the Hunter Creek Road, turn left through two stone gate posts marked “Private,” and follow the paved Hunter Creek Road 1/3 mile around a hairpin switchback to the well-signed Hunter Creek Trailhead on the right side of the road. Your other choice for foot travel is to follow a foot trail that traverses up the mountain from the parking area to the trailhead.