Hiking Conundrum & Castle Peak, Colorado – Trail Map, Pictures, Description & More

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Article Categories: Hiking

Conundrum Peak is a 14,022 foot mountain in the Elk Range of Colorado. It features stunning views, a gorgeous lake, and is almost always combined with Castle Peak (route explained below). Here’s everything you need to know to hike both of these 14ers.

Distance – 12.3 miles round trip (19.79 km)
Height – 14,022 feet (4273.91 m)
Elevation gain – 5,357 feet (1,632.81 m)
Duration –  7-10 hours (book time)
Difficulty – Strenuous
Class: Class 2 Hike
Seasons – This hike can be completed in all seasons, but winter is especially difficult, and dangerous.
Trailhead Location – Castle Creek Trailhead (2WD) – 9,800 feet or 11,150 feet with 4WD (directions below)

 

Trails

 

Castle Peak And Conundrum Peak Loop (2WD Trailhead) – 12.3 Mile Loop – 5,357 Feet Elevation Gain

If you have a 4WD vehicle with high clearance, you will be able to make it passed this trailhead. 4WD vehicles can make it passed this first point during good conditions, but may have to stop at one of the early on tent sites. Regardless of the vehicle, be prepared to make this hike from the 2WD trailhead in case of conditions that make the road impassible.

From this trailhead, hikers simply hike along the road. Eventually, hikers will reach the 4WD trailhead at 11,150 feet. Continue reading the rest of the route from the 4WD trailhead.

 

Castle Peak And Conundrum Peak Loop (4WD Trailhead) – 6.7 Mile Loop – 3,757 Feet Elevation Gain

This route saves 5.6 miles round trip and and about 1,600 feet of elevation gain.

We recommend summiting Castle Peak first, then descending the ridge to the saddle between both peaks, and then summiting Conundrum before returning.

Once reaching the 4WD trailhead, hikers can continue along the road, bearing right at the first junction. The road is easy hiking, and the trail continues to switchback and follow the road all the way to Montezuma Mine and the parking area at 12,650 feet.

Hikers begin ascending boulders and loose rock. .3 miles from the mine parking area the trail breaks off to the right towards Conundrum peak, but hikers should stay left towards Castle Peak. .3 miles after this, hikers will see cairns heading up to the left via switchbacks to the ridge.

Hikers take these switchbacks and follow the ridge to the summit of Castle Peak. This remains class 2, however the ridge does have some exposure points with steep drop offs. The views are simply incredible.

From here, hikers follow the ridge down to the saddle between Castle and Conundrum.

The section of this hike still remains class 2, but the trail from the saddle back down to Montezuma Mine can be tricky during snowy times or muddy times. During those times, it may make sense to head back up to the summit of Castle and descending the same route.

It is a relatively steep decline to the saddle, and incline back up to the summit of Conundrum. The views are incredible.

 

Castle Peak & Conundrum Parking At Montezuma Mine – 2.4 Mile Loop

This is a common road for high clearance 4WD vehicles capable of handling some pretty tough roads. If you have a vehicle that can handle this, you can cut off a large portion of this hike.

 

Trail Map

Castle And Conundrum Peak Trail Map

 

You can also view the map we created here.

 

Hiking Castle Peak In Winter

As with any 14er, this hike is significantly more dangerous in winter. These summits are doable in winter months via the same route, but added caution is needed. Hikers will very likely have to begin at the 2WD trailhead for winter summits.

 

Camping For Castle Peak

There are 7 first come first serve campsites with parking spots along Pearl Pass Road shortly after the 2WD trailhead. The only camping permitted is in the designated sites only.

You can read about these sites here.

There is also nearby camping at Castle Peak Campground which you can read about here.

 

Current Weather Conditions:

Here is the detailed weather forecast for the next few days. We highly recommend you check out the mountain forecast for this peak the morning of your hike.

 

Mount Crested Butte, CO

This Afternoon
Sunny, with a high near 13. Wind chill values as low as -10. West wind around 15 mph.

Tonight
Blowing snow after 10pm. Partly cloudy, with a low around -5. Wind chill values as low as -32. West southwest wind 15 to 30 mph, with gusts as high as 55 mph.

Friday
Blowing snow before 4pm, then areas of blowing snow and a slight chance of snow showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 9. Wind chill values as low as -34. West wind 30 to 35 mph, with gusts as high as 65 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%. New snow accumulation of less than half an inch possible.

Friday Night
Areas of blowing snow and a slight chance of snow showers before 11pm, then snow showers likely and areas of blowing snow. Mostly cloudy, with a low around -1. Wind chill values as low as -25. West southwest wind 25 to 30 mph, with gusts as high as 50 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.

Saturday
Snow showers and areas of blowing snow. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 5. West wind 20 to 25 mph, with gusts as high as 45 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches possible.

Saturday Night
A chance of snow showers and patchy blowing snow before 5am, then patchy blowing snow and a slight chance of snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around -9. Chance of precipitation is 40%. New snow accumulation of less than half an inch possible.

Sunday
Patchy blowing snow and a slight chance of snow showers before 5pm. Partly sunny, with a high near 10. Chance of precipitation is 20%. New snow accumulation of less than half an inch possible.

Sunday Night
Mostly clear, with a low around -5.

Monday
A slight chance of snow showers between 11am and 5pm. Sunny, with a high near 20. Little or no snow accumulation expected.

Monday Night
Patchy blowing snow after 11pm. Mostly clear, with a low around 2.

Tuesday
Patchy blowing snow before 11am, then a slight chance of snow showers between 11am and 5pm, then patchy blowing snow and a slight chance of snow showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 21. New snow accumulation of less than half an inch possible.

Tuesday Night
Patchy blowing snow and a slight chance of snow showers. Partly cloudy, with a low around 3. Little or no snow accumulation expected.

Wednesday
Patchy blowing snow before 11am, then a slight chance of snow showers between 11am and 5pm, then patchy blowing snow and a slight chance of snow showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 21. New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.

Wednesday Night
Areas of blowing snow and a slight chance of snow showers. Partly cloudy, with a low around 6. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.

 

Directions & Parking

The 2WD trailhead is accessible to all types of vehicles. Directions to the 2WD Trailhead:

Simply continue along Pear Pass Road road to reach the 4WD trailhead and campsites.

 

Additional Pictures

Castle and conundrum peak saddle panorama

Castle peak from saddle between Castle and Conundrum

Castle peak from saddle between Castle and Conundrum

Castle Peak

Castle Peak

Hikers heading down castle peak

Hikers heading down castle peak

Pearl Pass Road with truck ahead

Pearl Pass Road with truck ahead

Views along ridge heading up Castle Peak

Views along ridge heading up Castle Peak

Max DesMarais
Max DesMarais

Max DesMarais is the founder of Hiking & Fishing. He has a passion for the outdoors and sharing experiences with others. Max is a published author for various outdoor websites and digital marketing websites. You can read more about him here: hikingandfishing/about

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