This route to Margy’s Hut is more remote and requires stronger navigation, trail-breaking, and winter travel skills than the standard winter route via Johnson Creek. Ski past trailhead signs near the road and continue up the Woody Creek drainage. Basically, the best route follows that of the summer pack trail which is indicated by its cut through the timber. Snow cover and low branches, however, may dictate custom route-finding. Using navigation tools such as map and GPS, spot Cliff Creek’s confluence with Woody Creek. Continue up Woody Creek, and at the next confluence, that of Spruce Creek and Woody Creek (9,440 feet), find the marked 10th Mountain trail junction on the north side of Woody Creek. From the junction ski N then NE up the well-defined and marked Spruce Creek Trail. You have a long pull ahead of you, as the trail follows the Spruce Creek drainage 3 1/4 miles and 1,560 vertical feet to 11,000 feet in the west end of Sawmill Park.
When you enter Sawmill Park, keep a sharp eye out for another trail fork to the left. Many parties miss this fork. If you have trouble, the trick is to identify Sawmill Park with adroit map reading and GPS use. Stay at the lower (west) end of the park and carefully search out the 10th Mountain junction markers on a couple of medium-sized evergreens (yes, the green trees). Your altimeter can really help here, as would a GPS unit. If you ski more than about 50 feet into Sawmill Park you are past the junction. From the junction follow the spur trail W then SW as it makes a long 1.4 mile climbing traverse up to the hut. The hut is usually visible several hundred yards before you reach it, but it may be hidden by snow on heavy snow years, with just the upper front windows showing.
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.