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)
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.
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
Snow showers likely and patchy blowing snow. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 10. Wind chill values as low as -15. North northwest wind around 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.
A chance of snow showers and patchy blowing snow before 7pm, then patchy blowing snow and a slight chance of snow showers between 7pm and 9pm. Partly cloudy, with a low around -5. Wind chill values as low as -20. North northeast wind 10 to 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
Sunny, with a high near 19. Wind chill values as low as -17. North northeast wind 5 to 10 mph.
Partly cloudy, with a low around 0. Wind chill values as low as -13. North northwest wind 5 to 15 mph.
A slight chance of snow showers between 11am and noon, then patchy blowing snow and a slight chance of snow showers between noon and 5pm, then snow showers and blowing snow. Partly sunny, with a high near 19. West northwest wind 15 to 30 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.
Snow showers and blowing snow before 11pm, then blowing snow and a chance of snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around -7. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches possible.
A chance of snow showers and patchy blowing snow. Partly sunny, with a high near 6. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New snow accumulation of less than half an inch 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.
Max DesMarais is the founder of Hiking & Fishing. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. You can read more about him here: hikingandfishing/about