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Rollins Pass East

1 Review
Location Nederland, CO
Rating Easy,
Length 12.3mi
Time 4hrs

Vehicle Types


Follows long railroad grade to closed Needle’s Eye Tunnel.

This road follows an historic 1903 railroad route and features two lakes, stunning views and an easy hike to Needle’s Eye Tunnel. It is open to unlicensed vehicles after you turn off County Road 16. You can camp and park across the road south of the starting point. The trail has no seasonal closures, but won’t be passable, except by snowmobile, in the winter.


Trail Ratings Defined

Small embedded rock, occasional muddy spots, and gentle grades. Suitable for almost any highclearance SUV. A rough road for cars, but they can do most of it.






High Point


Best Time To Go


Current Conditions

(303) 541-2500Roosevelt N.F., Boulder R.D.

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Trail Updates

Submitted by Holger
Went up Rollins Pass on a dirt bike, a Suzuki DR650, yesterday. I almost got as far as Yankee Doodle Lake. People were camping in the middle of the trail / road, as snow still blocked the rest of it. Some of the dispersed sites were occupied, but, for a Sunday morning, it wasn’t too busy. Up to there, the trail was easy: a few puddles, some meltwater runoff crossings, lots of rocks, but not a lot of mud. I’ll be back in a month to get to Jenny Lake.

Submitted by Tom
Road was in good shape, a little rough and rocky, with some big puddles and some run-off crossings. There are two cuts for the RR bed about 1.5 miles before Yankee Doodle Lake. Both were full of snow. The first was just barely passable in the Jeep, we didn’t try the second and can’t see where anything other than mountain bikes and ATV’s had been through. Several Jeeps turned around before the first cut – we probably should have, too. We talked to a few bikers and they said the snow had turned them around a little further up – not sure if they made it Yankee Doodle Lake. There was still a lot of snow on the side of the mountain leading up to the tunnel.

Submitted by Charles Wells of FunTreks
In mid-July of 2018, I was surprised to find the trail completely blocked by snow just above Yankee Doodle Lake. I hiked past this point and found an even worse blockage higher up. This means it is possible you might not be able to drive all the way to the tunnel until August some years. I’d also like to point out that side trail Jenny Creek, F.S. 502, is now officially open, but part of the trail has been re-routed away from the creek. There is a full description of Jenny Creek in the new 4th Edition of Guide to Northern Colorado Backroads & 4-Wheel-Drive Trails set to be released for sale in mid-April 2019.


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Jeff says

October 4, 2021 - Got up to Yankee Doodle Lake but didn't go further on account of how scooped the first section of the road was. It was slow going and always felt like one corner of the truck was in a rut as the opposite was coming out of one in the road. It's a beautiful drive despite the ruts slowing you down. Would've loved to get up there earlier. If this trail was peanut butter, parts were smooth and others were extra chunky.
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