Directions to the trailhead:
From Durango, drive approximately 22 miles north on 550 to Needles Country Store on the left (west) side of the highway, a center with a gas station, grocery and outdoor stores, and corral. Park at the south end, closest to the corral. The trailhead is not readily visible, but follow the path towards the corral until you reach the Elbert Creek Trail sign. Go through the gates adjacent to the corral to begin the trail.
Shortly after beginning the trail there is a creek crossing. Look for the log bridge with a rope handle on the right hand side of the trail to make your way across the creek.
The trail switchbacks from here through an aspen forest. Looking up you can catch a glimpse of Castle Rock through the trees, and looking down at the valley and Electra Lake. This part of the trail is especially striking in the fall when the aspens are golden.
When the trail starts to straighten out and head up the valley, you'll come upon an old log cabin that is the property of the San Juan National Forest. The "Y" trail junction is just past the cabin in an open meadow often filled with wildflowers. At this unmarked junction, bear right to continue up a hillside to Castle Rock.
The Elbert Creek trail, however, continues up valley for a few more miles before descending for nearly five miles to the Hermosa Creek Trail