Democrat Mountain

Empire, Colorado (ClearCreek County)

Last Updated: 09/19/2021
4.3 / 5 ( 4 reviews )
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Information
Nearby Trails
Status: Open
Typically Open: 06/01 - 12/01
Length: 4.58 miles
Highest Elevation: 11583 feet
Duration: About 2 hours, 30 minutes
Shape of Trail: Out & Back
Best Direction to Travel: N/A
Nearest Town: Empire
Nearest Town w/ Services: Empire
Official Road Name: 778.1
Management Agency: United States Forest Service
District: Clear Creek Ranger District

Highlights

Highlight: Democrat Mountain
The trail offers you some nice views from a few overlooks and definite challenges for stock vehicles. The rough trail has access to some hiking trails and an old mine as well. The good and bad part of this trail is that it’s not often occupied, but it provides some of a challenge. It’s much better as an addition to your day with Bard Creek than a stand alone trail.

Video

Route Information

Technical Rating

( MODERATE )

Read more about our rating system

Waypoints

1. Intersection with Bard Creek Trail (0 mi)
The Bard Creek trail intersects with FS 778.1, Democrat Mountain. If coming in from town, turn left as the sign indicates, if coming back from the end of Bard Creek, turn right at the waypoint onto 778.1. You’re going to climb the side of Columbia Mountain for a few miles. The dirt quickly changes to rocky dirt and a bumpy climb. Strap in, these rocks and rough spots continue for some time.

Directions to Trailhead

Starting Point: Empire, CO

Take South Main Street and head towards the park and baseball field. This road leads to the Bard Creek Trail and the Trailhead for Democrat mountain 0.7 Miles from the parking lot.

Camping

Dispersed

Land Use Issues

Trail 778.2A ends before MVUM maps say that it should and it has been verified with the Forest Service that old maps do not properly represent where this trail ends. Following the GPX track is the best way to stay the trail here.

Trail Reviews (13)

Author:
Status: Open
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Fun climb with some awesome views, despite the MVUM restrictions. Also some cool old mining structures, if you're willing to walk down old closed forest roads. We ran this in a 4th gen 4Runner with a 3" lift. I thought the hardest part was low on the long straight-away section, where big rocks made me glad I had the extra clearance. It's worth noting that you come across the junction with FR778.2A most of the way up the long straight-away section. Although the MVUM shows that road is open to all vehicles, it is way too narrow for most highway-legal vehicles. In the 4Runner, my right side was scraping trees while my left wheels were hitting rocks that were sticking into the trail. A couple hundred yards up that trail, one of those rocks punctured the sidewall on my front driver's tire, bringing an early end to an otherwise awesome day in the mountains.
Author: Official Crew
Social Media:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
This trail will get a face-lift in the spring. The gpx and ratings are accurate but the views along the way have undergone some changes the last few years. Gall colors are just starting to pop.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
The trail is clear up until a snow bank and blocking the last 1/8 mile of trail, ended up hiking bars peak from there. The Nissan is still up there but is easily passable. Not a good trail for larger groups as there is limited passing areas
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Really fun trail! Definitely tight, and bumpy. My stock 2019 Tacoma TRD Off Road handled it with good tire placement. That said, we didn’t make it too far. There was a white Nissan which has clearly wrecked badly and is epartially blocking the trail shortly after the 2nd waypoint. There was a note on the car saying everyone was okay and they got a ride to Empire. At most a week old if I had to guess. There is enough room to get by, but it’s position made getting into the camp site right next to it rather difficult. Will come back! I think a lift / beefier wheels would make this trail a lot more enjoyable.
Author: Official Crew
Social Media:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
This trail is open for the season but snowdrifts may still exist at higher altitudes, use caution and enjoy your summer!
Author: Official Crew
Social Media:
Status: Impassable
Offroaded on:
This trail is located at a higher alitude of Colorado and at this time of year should be considered impassable for any regular off-road user. Some people may be able to manage these trails with the correct gear, emergency equipment, and rig. Travel with caution.
Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Stage 3 fire restrictions have been lifted as of 6am, 11/10/20. The forest is no longer fully closed. Areas within fire perimeters remain closed. See closure maps here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/arp/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD844558 Expect winter conditions on trails. Some trails may be impassable due to snow.
Author: Official Crew
Status: Temporary Closure
Offroaded on:
Due to dangerous fire conditions, Arapahoe National Forest has closed the forest to all visitors. This decision will be re-evaluated daily as conditions change. See the order here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/arp/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD831612
Author:
Status: Impassable
Offroaded on:
Hiked up this due to snow, does not look to be passable with a vehicle after waypoint 2 due to the amount of snow. There were some snowmobile tracks but even they turned around.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Summer conditions currently -- dry all the way to the top.
Author: Official Crew
Social Media:
Status: Seasonal Closure
Offroaded on:
Due to snow in the high county, many parts of this trail are impassable and will stay that way until spring.
Author: Official Crew
Social Media:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
I was excited to run this and get above timberline. However, I was a little disappointed to find that the trail was closed at waypoint 5 by the Forest Service and you can no longer get to the top. But the views from the first overlook were amazing, as the whole trail was really pretty. Don't let the bumps scare you, we had a stock JK up there no problem. There was zero trash along this trail, so please keep it that way :) Tip: If you have rooftop tent, or are off the ground, there would be really good camping at the first overlook.
Author: Official Crew
Social Media:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Trail was run for mapping.

Questions & Answers (0)

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.