Mill Castle Trail is so unique and different with its canyon walls, pinnacles, and massive aspens forests that photos simply can’t capture it. A hidden gem with few hikers and a dreamy area for those wanting solitude in the wild.


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From the start, this hike is a fall foliage extravaganza. For the first mile and 1/2, it’s easy hiking along a dirt road lined with aspens and the sounds of a babbling creek. Occasionally I find glimpses of what lies ahead through the trees.



Pop-out of the forest and here we are, in a meadow with what’s to come right before us. It’s stunning, even intimidating, as we hike towards Mill Creek which we need to cross to continue. The water is low and crossing Mill Creek is easy but in summer this might be a challenge for some.



The views surrounding us are rugged cliffs, and pinnacles towering super high above us.  It’s really incredible.



As we head into the forest again and into West Elk Wilderness it starts to become exciting to anticipate what might be ahead.





Passing into the wilderness it’s quiet, with only a slight breeze shaking the leaves off the tallest aspens I’ve ever seen. Some leaves falling at our feet and some just making that shimmering sound in the wind that’s so prevalent in the fall.

A trail you want to be prepared for with appropriate hiking gear. At high altitudes, dehydration plus fickle weather is always something to consider. CLICK HERE> for a look at the practical gear we carry in our backpacks on every hike.




Deeper into the canyon we go and it’s beautiful yet so quiet I can hear every small sound. Twigs snapping, squirrels scurrying about, trees bending, and occasionally water trickling.

Be mindful of wildlife, moose and bear sightings are common. However, we did not encounter any today.


What to do if you encounter wildlife >CLICK HERE



Deeper and deeper we go and the views of canyon walls are unstoppable in every direction as you look about.

At our feet, the trail starts to look as though water had flowed through here previously as we hike over rocks that may have been a creek crossing.




We come to a green gate, pass through it, and suddenly everything changes. The trail is no longer rolling up and down but is now a steep narrow rocky incline. Here it gets more intense but only for a short distance.





After a brief scary encounter turning up a steep rocky ledge it becomes views in every direction! We are now one with the canyon walls wrapped around us. Behind us, the trail continues on to Storm Pass but we are content right here.




Behind us looking across towards Storm Pass and looking far below us is a gorgeous waterfall in summer. However, it is mostly dry now and we’ve missed it this late in the season.




Does looks like castles, the rocks are so massive and bold. It’s indescribable. Not a bad spot for our lunch.


I’m not sure how far we could see but it looked like forever across the valley floor stretching far to the east.



Mill Castle Trail

8 miles out and back

Rated: moderate

Mill Castle to Storm Pass

15.5 miles out and back

Rated: strenuous

Gunnison National Forest

West Elk Wilderness

Nearest town: Gunnison, CO


From Gunnison, travel north on Hwy 135 for 3.5 miles, turn left onto Ohio Creek Road, CR #730. Go 9 miles to Mill Creek Road, FSR #727. Follow Mill Creek Road for approximately 4.5 miles

When driving up the first parking area with a restroom looks like it would be the trailhead but keep going another mile to an area you can’t miss for parking. The road is rougher here but a higher clearance AWD car can manage it.





Colorado Hikes, 23 Awesome Trails!


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Note: Many of the links are affiliate links which means I receive a very small commission (at no added cost to you).