China Wall Road

Lake George, Colorado (Park County)

Last Updated: 06/15/2021
4.7 / 5 ( 9 reviews )
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Information
Nearby Trails
Status: Open
Typically Open: 06/16 - 12/31
Difficulty: 5-5
( DIFFICULT )
Length: 3.78 miles
Highest Elevation: 9013 feet
Duration: About 1 hour
Shape of Trail: Straight Through
Best Direction to Travel: N/A
Nearest Town: Lake George
Nearest Town w/ Services: Lake George
Official Road Name: 212
Management Agency: United States Forest Service
District: South Park Ranger District

Highlights

Highlight: China Wall Road
A little north of Lake George, CO, resides a well-known trail along the Colorado Front Range, China Wall Road. The trail is a great trail to test your rig out and get a little bit of rock crawling without spending the whole day climbing. There is plenty of scenery to be had as well; views of the Tarryall Mountains are prominent throughout. You can choose to bypass the obstacles or spend hours trying to master them and find the best lines. This trail's popularity makes it a must-do in Colorado trails. The obstacles here will give everyone a little adrenaline rush, with some scenery to round out the experience.

Video

Route Information

Advanced Rating System

Recommended Vehicle:
Lightly Modified 4X4 (Small Lift and Larger Tires)
Concerns:
Summary:
This trail contains some significant areas of rocks and inclines. Waypoints 7 through 10 are the most difficult, with Waypoint 2 being the hardest point along the trail that there is no bypass for. Keep in mind that these rock obstacles will be traveled both ways since this trail is out and back.

Technical Rating

MANDATORY
5
DIFFICULT
OPTIONAL
5
DIFFICULT
Rocky or undulated road surface. Potential rocks and/or tree stumps less than 24" tall and/or vertical ledges less than 24" tall and/or near vertical ledges or waterfalls less than 54" inches. Tire placement becomes more difficult. Can be steep and off-camber.
Read more about our rating system

Community Consensus

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Description

The trail is dirt and rock all the way through, with some obstacles along the way. Some of the obstacles are not bypassable and are noted in this writeup. The rocky inclines and descents are the largest reason for this trail’s rating. If you don’t go slow and follow the right lines, you will hit bottom on this one. This trail gets very little snow in the winter, and as such, it will be one of the first seasonal closures to open in the spring if the winter allows.
Do not underestimate China Wall itself. People have rolled on that obstacle.

Waypoints

1. Trailhead on County Road 77 (0 mi)
The trailhead is on the east side of County Road 77/Tarryall Road with a prominent sign. There is a large area that can be used to air down and rally up right after the signage.
2. Camping Spur Loop Start - Stay Right (0.29 mi)
Stay right at this camping spur that is on the left.
3. Larger Campsite - Stay Straight (0.49 mi)
Stay straight past this entrance to a larger campsite with some trees to act as a backstop.
4. Camping Spur Loop End - Stay Straight (0.57 mi)
Stay straight. The camping loop from Waypoint 2 wraps around and ends at this spot just before the gate.
5. Little China Road & Seasonal Gate - Stay Straight (0.64 mi)
Stay straight through the intersection with Little China Road and the seasonal gate. Once you pass through the gate, you will do a little mild off-camber rock riding towards the next waypoint.
6. Box Road - Stay Right (2.62 mi)
Stay right at this large intersection with Box Road. Since this area is often run as a loop, this intersection can be a little busy on the weekends.
7. Rock Obstacle #1 (2.71 mi)
This rock obstacle isn't terribly difficult but does require paying attention to where you are putting your tires on the way up or down. You can bypass the rock around to the side.
8. Rock Obstacle #2 (2.95 mi)
This is the largest rock obstacle on this trail and must be conquered going down as well as back up to get off the trail. It helps to have a spotter, but with a well-built rig, most experienced drivers should be able to handle this area from the cab. There is no bypass for this obstacle.
9. Rock Obstacle #3 (3.19 mi)
This obstacle is much like Obstacle #1 and is only one small group of rocks to climb down and up. There is also a bypass for this obstacle.
10. China Wall Rock Wall (3.42 mi)
This is the most well-known part of the trail, and this rock is a steep climb to the top and should only be attempted with a spotter. Longer wheel-based vehicles are going to have trouble here as the bottom has gotten dug out over the years. Stay in the middle to avoid damage and flipping.
11. End of the Trail (3.78 mi)
The trail ends at a large teardrop parking lot and a small fenced loop. There is no camping allowed down by the river anymore. Turn around and return the way you came.

Directions to Trailhead

Starting Point: Lake George, Colorado

From US 24 and County Road 77/Tarryall Road, follow 77 for 11.4 miles to the trailhead on the right.

Camping

Dispersed
Dispersed camping is available along this trail, and as of 2021, there will be a numbered site and reservation system in place (Those details will be posted here as soon as they are published). There are several campsites along this trail. The easiest to access is at Waypoint 3 and can handle an RV and/or large group. There is additional camping opportunities nearby on Burns Park Road and Thorpe Road. Please note: There is no longer camping allowed down by the river; this area feeds into people's drinking water downstream and has been closed.
Camping: China Wall Road

Trail Reviews (31)

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
I went to the "gate swing" with Sam from Stay the Trail and a group from Colorado Four Wheelers this morning. Colorado Four Wheelers adopted China Wall many years ago and does stewardship/maintenance on this road every year. This year they've done some dozer work, and got a new segment (used to be closed) re-opened. I had to get back to Springs for work, but snapped a few photos.
Author: Official Crew
Social Media:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Open for the season!
Author:
Status: Seasonal Closure
Offroaded on:
Closed! 5/23/2021 potential opening 6/15/2021
Author:
Status: Temporary Closure
Offroaded on:
Wanted to go on my second trip, but the trail is closed, sadly.
Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
This trail is always an adventure. The rock obstacles can get intense, but take the right lines and you will be fine. Spotters are helpful.
Author: Official Crew
Social Media:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
We were out today to update this map writeup. New pictures and video are coming soon. Waypoint 6 is not closed but you cannot drive down by the creek and the trail now ends at a fenced loop. Some parts of the trail seem to have gotten filled in since we were there last, but the rating remains the same overall.
Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran the trail and camped out for the night near Box Canyon. The trail is in good condition and traffic on the trail was light.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
I ran this my Landcruiser 100 (2.5" lift) along with a stock Wrangler Sport and Grand Cherokee Overland. This is definitely a good trail to push stock or lightly modified rigs close to their limits. The Overland struggled climbing back up the first rock obstacle, scraping skid plates, exhaust and dining a wheel. All three of us needed spotters to get through in both directions. The Wrangler and Landcruiser both climbed the wall with no troubles. The Overland driver wisely chose to bypass that element. Unfortunately, we missed the turn off for waypoints 9 through 14 due to navigation difficulties. The trail was not terribly crowded, through there were a number of motorcycle and ATV users. It was a great day nonetheless.
Author:
Social Media:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Fantastic trail that will test you, your spotter, and your rig. We enjoyed our camping spot nearby the rock obstacle on waypoint 4. We didn't have lockers but I could see how they would help.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Fun trail to really test the Jeeps ability. It was definitely tougher than what I though it was going to be, but everything went well. Plenty of people camping and a few other Jeeps out today. I would recommend having at least one locker if you’re going to do the whole trail. China wall definitely looks bigger in person!
Author:
Status: Temporary Closure
Offroaded on:
Closed until June 15th. Both entrances. Don’t even try.
Author:
Status: Temporary Closure
Offroaded on:
Forest Service has closed China Wall area. Gates across road at each end.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
I would say this trail is over-rated when it comes to difficulty. I would rate this a 3-4. Most of the trail is a smooth dirt path with the exception of 3 rocky sections that are not difficult at all when using a good line. I would recommend this trail to those who are just getting acquainted with wheeling.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Ran the full trail with no closures. The wall was fun and had that pucker factor. I highly recommend high clearance for this area especially the rock obstacles and the steep descent on 204. We didn't try coming back up 204 and just exited at the northern gate.
Author:
Status: Temporary Closure
Offroaded on:
Closed to motor vehicle at gate ,not sure why ,went to the other side and the map said the same thing "loop closed " sad
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Ran the trail from Hwy 24 via La Salle Pass, down to Tarryall Creek then back up north towards Tarryall Rd. The wife’s Tacoma, 3in lift on 34s, did well. The long-bed factor made some obstacles challenging. My 4Runner with 3in lift and 32s did just fine; no skid scrapes. I did the Wall just as easily; the wife didn’t attempt it due to lack of departure angle. We wanted to camp down by Tarryall but realized they closed off all of it to vehicles.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Outstanding trail and beautiful area -- definitely in our top 3 in Colorado (out of about 20+ we've completed). We ran this single-ship today in a 4-door '18 JL Rubi with 3" lift and 35s -- lightly hit only once on right rock rail. IMHO the 5 rating is well-deserved, so any stock vehicles that don't have pretty high clearance will very likely take some significant hits along this trail for sure (I know because I used to drive one). First picture (Point 4, 3.2m) is a fun challenge and I agree with the recommendation of having a spotter to assist. China Wall (2nd & 3rd pictures, Point 5, 3.6m) is AWESOME; as recommended on this website, I started to the left and ascended with a very slight right angle, maintaining my left tires on the ridge you'll see in the rock. Worked like a charm! Picture 4 (Point 10, 6.4m) took some work because vehicle wanted to slide sideways to the right in the top portion, making it difficult to get aligned properly for the descending right turn (had to back-up several times). Again, a great challenge! By the way, Tarryall Creek looked like a raging river...spectacular!!
Author: Official Crew
Social Media:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Gates were opened this morning and the trail is open for the season.
Author: Official Crew
Status: Seasonal Closure
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Seasonal Closure now in effect
Author: Official Crew
Social Media:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:

The trail is open all the way through but please note that the Forest Service has laid some logs along certain parts of the trail, especially near the river. These areas that are blocked off are not authorized trails and is the start of the Forest Service's efforts to close off those areas as they are close to the water and residences on the other side of the river. Do not move these logs or drive over them. The Forest Service plans to replace them with fencing later this summer and trailsoffroad will be out there to update this writeup at that time.

Included in these photos is a roll-over that occured on the same day they opened China Wall this year. It's a reminder to be careful on that obsatcle and that rolling over is very possible. Don't take on the wall without a spotter.

Pictures used with permission and courtesy of Colorado Four Wheelers.

Author: Official Crew
Social Media:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Trail was opened by the Forest Service today.
Author: Official Crew
Social Media:
Status: Seasonal Closure
Offroaded on:
The trail is now closed for the season and scheduled to reopen in June.
Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Ran China Wall on Saturday, November 18th, with a group of 15 rigs from Colorado Land Cruisers (Colorado Springs). Weather was clear and sunny so the snow from the previous night was melting quickly. We started at the Trailhead as described in the guide, and had lunch at Waypoint 6 (Tarryall Creek and camping area). We were off the trail by 3pm. Most of the snow had melted by this time (except on north-facing slopes or shaded areas). No problems with traction nor difficulty on any rock obstacles. China Wall is always a good time!
Author: Official Crew
Social Media:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:

We did a check up on the trail. The Forest Service did far more than install seasonal gates. They have closed a number of bypasses and some areas that have degraded, like the muddy area near the China Wall main obstacle. The Forest Service has made it very clear where you can and can't go. Please Stay The Trail.

This trail was easier on new 35's, though we found ourselves on a bad line down the curvy descent. I can't recommend having a spotter for this trail enough. It will save you body damage or a scrape on the ground. On top of the closure work on the trail, there was also some repair work and some of the deep rutting has been filled in.

There was no snow to be found and the weather forecasts in the area are not calling for anything anytime in the next few weeks. We saw only some dust in a few tiny spots in the shade, but it is cold at night in Lake George and we saw evidence of the creek icing over when we were at the bottom of the trail near the campsites.

This trail remains a constant barrage of obstacles and we took a number of new waypoints today for this trail. Stayed tuned this week for updates to this trail and added obstacles and information!

Author: Official Crew
Social Media:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Stay the trail and other organizations were out at China Wall today to do some trail repair and put up seasonal gates that will now officially close this trail yearly starting on January 1st. For now, enjoy the trail until this season is up! From Stay The Trail: "Stay The Trail was joined by the Colorado Four Wheelers and the South Park Ranger District for some work on China Wall today. Big thanks to Rugged Ridge for helping to fund the materials. Please remember that the seasonal closure for Bighorn Sheep in this area is January 1st. Until then the gates are open and the trail is in great shape thanks to another successful club adoption!"
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Followed the FunTrecks guide for China Wall. Most of the trail is very easy with occasional moderate obstacles. There was an optional approach on the way down a steep hill leading to Tarryall Creek that tested the capabilities of the Jeep, but that approach would be easily avoided. There were numerous campsites near the creek that would be wonderful for a weekend. Overall this trail is a good one to cut your teeth on if you are newer to offroad driving. It is also an excellent area to camp.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Had a great time. This was my first time on this trail. Two of us, each in Tacomas, ran the trail. There were a few spots that were difficult for a first timer with low experience, but with a good guide to help find the right lines it was not an issue.
Author:
Status: Not Reported
Offroaded on:
First time on this trail. Lots of fun! My TRD Tacoma (3" lift, 33s, high clearance bumper, no sway bar) had no issues with any of the obstacles. Had to be careful of line selection a few times, but a spotter helped a lot with that. We also go a stock base model Nissan Xterra up the trail! The only obstacle it didn't do was China Wall itself. However, I don't recommend taking a stock vehicle. It got sketchy a few times with no flex and ground clearance. Almost flipped it on the first non-optional rock obstacle. All in all it was a great trip!
Author: Official Crew
Social Media:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Nice day with little traffic for a weekend. It was dry enough at the time that we likely didn't need to air down for the rocks but did for ease of travel.
Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
This was my first time running this trail and had a great time! The trail was easy enough for a stock JK and Toyota Tacoma pick up to make it through the entire trail but had good obsticles for more built rigs. every large obsticle has a legal go around except the whoop dee dos which is passable with most stock 4x4s. overall super fun trail and a must do if in the area.
Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
I visited China Wall on February 20th, 2016 as a scheduled trail ride with Colorado Land Cruisers (Colorado Springs). It was a beautiful day, with mild temperatures (high 40s, low 50s) and sunshine. Trail conditions were very good, as recent snowfall had melted on 90% of the trail. Trail segments in shade or on north-facing slopes were snow covered. It was mild enough that I permitted my 16-year old son to drive (see that smile!) a few segments. China Wall is popular with hikers, mountain bikers, and campers in the summer months. Put this trail on your 2016 "To Do" list!

Questions & Answers (4)

Q: Question regarding camping in the area. I was camped out along the trail near Box Canyon in a very well defined camp spot. In the morning a group of Jeeps drove by and confronted me for being in an unauthorized area. They said all vehicles need to be withing a car's width of the edge of a trail. Did I miss something with the camping regulation in the area? There was no sign posted and I was parked on bare ground and not on top of any vegetation. It just struck me weird because I thought I was okay to camp where I did.
–Greg Stokes (10/11/2020)
A: Yea I saw the areas that were closed off and cabled off. I saw the signs and stood a couple back up that were ran over. This as far as I know was not one of them.
–Greg Stokes (10/12/2020)
A: Per the South Park MVUM, parking within one vehicle's LENGTH is acceptable when not causing resource damage (i.e. water, alpine tundra, etc). Typically, this includes an area of up to 300 feet off the trail to physically camp when dispersed camping is allowed. There are some campsites along this trail that are down near the river, but those should be marked off as closed (waypoint 6).
–JD Marshall (10/12/2020)
Q: Hi there! Not really a question, but just adding some info for anyone who reads the details on this trail. We've had such nice, warm weather that we called the Forest Service to ask if they *might* be planning to open this trail soon (crossing our fingers). Turns out, they never open prior to June 15th because there's a herd of bighorn sheep that live in the Tarryall-Kenosha area. Colorado Parks & Wildlife has a project to study the herd to try and determine why the population has been dwindling over the decades. Just something to keep in mind for those of us who are anxious (impatient?) for some trails to start opening up ;)
–Denese Gardner (04/30/2020)
A: Thank you for the note. This page usually gets updated the same day the FS opens the gate!
–JD Marshall (04/30/2020)
Q: Anyone have experience on this trail with full size trucks?
–Trevor (06/14/2019)
A: Trevor, thank you for the question, if you don't get an answer back real fast, check out some of the Trail Reviews from 2017. Looks like some full-sized trucks went through there and they posted some pictures.
–JD Marshall (06/17/2019)
Q: Just confirming trail closure for China Wall is Jan 1? Thanks and Merry Christmas
–Nathan Voorhis (12/25/2017)
A: Hi Nathan. Yes, the gates close on the first of the year and it will reopen in June. Happy wheeling!
–JD Marshall (12/25/2017)

Writer Information

JD Marshall

Mapping Crew - Colorado

Jen & JD moved to Colorado from Chicago in May of 2015 for work and brought with them a 2001 stock Jeep Wrangler that had been garage bound for two years. Within a month of arrival, all rusty 170,000 miles of it was shaking on Colorado trails and they've never stopped. As time as gone on, their 2001 TJ had to be traded and a 2015 Jeep JK has been added to the family. JD works as a Systems Engineer for a cable company and Jen runs a business from their home during the week to pay the bills. When the weekend hits, they're almost always hitting the trail. When Sunday night rolls around, the question turns to, 'so what's next week?!'.
For individual use only, not to be shared.