From Lenado Trailhead parking, continue up the obvious main road by foot or ski. You’ll pass Spruce Creek Trailhead on the right and a few feet after that you’ll cross an automobile bridge. Stay on the wide road-cut of the main road for 1 mile to a distinct switchback hairpin (9,065 feet). Put your skins on here. Just before the switchback turn right off the main road onto the Johnson Creek Trail and climb a fairly steep hill. The Johnson Creek Trail follows an ill defined road-cut on the east side of Silver Creek. At 9,270 feet turn right (E) out of the Silver Creek drainage and follow a sidehill trail that climbs (with several switchbacks) 1 1/2 miles up Johnson Creek to another distinct snow-covered road at 10,480 feet.
Turn right (S) on this obvious road which leads slightly downhill and level for 1/4 mile (leave your skins on) around a shoulder, then gradually climbs for 2 miles to 11,040 feet. Here the 10th Mountain suggested route takes a left fork (switchback) and climbs N for 180 vertical feet to a timbered saddle. From the saddle ski several hundred feet N and intersect another snow-covered road on the north side of the saddle. Turn right (E) on this road and follow it for 3/4 mile as it traverses north-facing terrain. Just before the road makes a turn N, leave the road and ski SE through a clearing, then a short distance downhill to the hut. The hut is not visible until you are several hundred feet away.
Locations of Observed or Reported Avalanche Activity: Avalanche activity has been reported along this suggested route at locations indicated below. Elevations indicate approximate elevation where the slides crossed the trail, not the starting zones.
Avalanche size/destructive force is scaled according to the American Avalanche Association as follows:
From Glenwood Springs/I-70, travel east on Hwy 82 approximately 32 miles to Smith Way. (From Aspen, this intersection is approximately 8 miles west of Aspen). Note that this intersection is located .8 mile west of the turn-off to Snowmass Village/Snowmass Ski Area. Travel downhill on Smith Way for .5 mile, cross the Roaring Fork River, and continue to a 3-way intersection. Turn left (north) at Upper River Road, (CR 17) and travel North for 1.5 miles to the sharp right turn (east) onto the Woody Creek Road CR 18. Proceed approximately 9 miles through Lenado to the limited parking along the left side of the road just before the snowplow turnaround, see Norrie Trailhead suggestion below.
IMPORTANT! There is no designated exclusive 10th Mountain hut visitor parking at the Lenado trailhead. Public parking for a few vehicles – including hut visitors – is available on the left side of the road before the bridge and snowplow turnaround. Parking illegally may result in your vehicle being towed, booted or ticketed. If you prefer ample, hassle-free parking, consider using the Norrie Trailhead located in the upper Frying Pan above Basalt. If you are traveling via Glenwood Springs and Carbondale, the drive time is a few minutes longer to the Norrie Trailhead than Lenado but the road to Norrie is paved, wider, and plowed more frequently. Note that the route from Norrie to Margy’s is about 1.3 miles longer than the Lenado approach and goes through primitive wilderness which is marked by tree blazes only. Bring a map, compass, and GPS device.
If you choose the Lenado Trailhead, carpooling is strongly suggested and extra vehicles can be parked overnight about 1/4 mile north of the Woody Creek Tavern at the Rio Grande Trail parking area. Be prepared to drive 1.5 hours to the Norrie trailhead if the public parking at Lenado is occupied when you arrive. Parking illegally may result in your vehicle being towed, booted or ticketed.