Red Cone

Grant, Colorado (Summit County)

Last Updated: 10/26/2021
4.9 / 5 ( 42 reviews )
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Information
Nearby Trails
Status:
Impassable
Typically Open: 07/01 - 03/31
Difficulty: 5-7
( DIFFICULT - SEVERE )
Length: 6.05 miles
Highest Elevation: 12800 feet
Duration: About 2 hours
Shape of Trail: Straight Through
Best Direction to Travel: North
Nearest Town: Grant
Nearest Town w/ Services: Bailey
Official Road Name: 565
Management Agency: Pike National Forest
District: South Platte Ranger District

Highlights

Highlight: Red Cone
Red Cone is one of the most iconic trails in central Colorado. This four-wheel-drive trail provides spectacular views of the divide with several rocky obstacles at the beginning and a once-in-a-lifetime decent near the end. The upper portion of the trail traverses the ridge lines around 12,000 feet with views for miles, but the steep, one-way descent at the end is a unique feature of this trail. Red Cone is also a key connecting trail to other nearby trails such as Webster Pass and the Montezuma trail system. Combining this with those trails creates a full day of offroad fun. A well-equipped vehicle with high clearance and low range is required.

Video

Route Information

Advanced Rating System

Recommended Vehicle:
Lightly Modified 4X4 (Small Lift and Larger Tires)
Concerns:
Summary:
The trail has many large rock sections within the first 2 miles that are not suitable for stock vehicles. Steep descents along the final mile of the trail can be extremely dangerous for novice drivers.

Technical Rating

MANDATORY
5
DIFFICULT
OPTIONAL
7
SEVERE
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.
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Community Consensus

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Description

The south end of the trail climbs steeply as you wind through the forest with sporadic rock obstacles, small creek crossings, and several muddy sections. The climb continues above tree line, across a few ridges untill you reach the very top of Red Cone. At this point the trail becomes one-way and descends down hill till it meets up with Webster Pass. The east side of Webster Pass stays snowed in till late July or August, but Red Cone only opens for the season once the west side of Webster Pass is clear, so there is always an exit from the trail. Heading east down Webster would return you to highway 285, heading west on Webster will drop you into the towns of Montezuma or Keystone.
If you are not comfortable with steep descents, avoid this trail.

Waypoints

1. Trailhead (0 mi)
After about 5 miles on C.R. 60, begin Red Cone at F.S. 565. The intersection is well marked with signage.
2. Rock Obstacle (0.44 mi)
This obstacle is the first rock obstacle you will encounter on the trail. Small tires will make this obstacle difficult as the boulders are relatively large and require careful tire placement to keep your undercarriage from getting snagged.
3. Creek Crossing (0.76 mi)
Cross a small creek and then veer slightly left as the trail follows a brief section of wash.
4. Rock Obstacle (1.1 mi)
Here is one of the most challenging obstacles along this trail. There are 2 line choices as there is a boulder in the middle that you might get hung up on if you have smaller tires. The line to the driver's right will require a bit of clearance to get up and over the slippery roots. The line to the left is super tight and has the potential for body damage.
5. Rock Garden (1.42 mi)
The Rock Garden is a short, wide area with a handful of large boulders to the right where a vehicle can test a few different lines. Each year this area changes. Some years the boulders seem massive; other years, the earth appears to bury the majority of the challenge.
6. End of Tree Line (2.99 mi)
You have now reached the end of the tree line. This would be a good time to stop for the last, covered, potty break of the trip.
7. Red Cone Peak (5.29 mi)
You have finally reached the Red Cone Peak. If you bunch up together, there is room for about 15 vehicles at the top. If you see a large group already ahead of you before reaching this point, it's probably a good idea to wait a bit and let them continue past the top. Likewise, if you see a large group behind you while staying at the top, it's probably a good idea to pack up and get moving. But stop, take some pictures, and enjoy the views of Whale Peak (13,078'), Handcart Peak (12,518'), Landslide Peak (13,298'), and many others before you descend. Red Cone is One Way Downhill Only from this point forward.
8. Descending Red Cone (5.29 mi)
If steep descents bother you, this would be the time to turn around or gather your courage and hold on tight! Do not lock up your brakes on this descent. It will mean disaster for you! Keep the vehicle in its lowest gear and let the engine do the work of braking for you. About 3/4 of the way down the hill, when you think you have conquered it, the trail takes one more quick, even steeper decline before leveling out across the ridge.
9. Second Descent (5.9 mi)
Don't be fooled and assume there was only one descent from the top; you still have one more steep descent to tangle with. The good news, you have already conquered one descent. The bad news, this one is a bit steeper than the previous one. But more good news, it's a lot shorter in length!!
10. Merge with Webster Pass (6.5 mi)
Congratulations! You have completed Red Cone! You are now at the top of Webster Pass and need to decide whether to go downhill towards the left, which will take you down the Southside of Webster Pass and back to highway 285, where you came from. Or you can go right, which will lead you north to the towns of Montezuma and Keystone. It is not uncommon for the south side of Webster Pass to be impassable by snow till late July or early August.

Directions to Trailhead

Starting Point: Denver

Take highway 285 west from Denver. Go about 3 miles past the town of Grant and turn right onto County Road 60. Continue on this main road for 5 miles and avoid all roads that turn left. The trailhead is marked by F.S. 565 on your right, along with a wooden bulletin board with the trail name.

Camping

Improved
Designated
C.R. 60 has 2 campgrounds before you reach the start of Red Cone; Hall Valley Campground and Handcart Campground, each with less than a dozen first come first serve camp spots. On Red Cone itself, there is hardly any dispersed camping. However, you can find a lot of dispersed camping along nearby roads such as Webster Pass.
Camping: Red Cone

Land Use Issues

Red Cone is a high alpine trail that begins to see snow in October or November. The trail is impassable to 4x4 vehicles during the winter months and should only be traversed by over the snow vehicles. Red Cone is seasonally closed during the Spring run-off season to prevent excess erosion. Exact closing and opening dates can vary from year-to-year depending on conditions, but according to the MVUM it is typically closed April 1st-June 30th.

Trail Reviews (70)

Questions & Answers (9)

Q: In the Notes it says no Full size. I have a Hummer H2 on 35's. (I do have a fatter ass than most LOL) I am used to getting alot of pin strips but when I hear no full size it makes me think of sharp turns etc.
–Shane Mattox (08/04/2021)
A: That is a pretty wide vehicle. Yes there are a few sharp switchback turns and one turn specifically that you maneuver between a couple trees. I personally wouldn't recommend taking that rig, but I can't speak for your abilities, so the choice is yours.
–Ryan Boudreau (08/05/2021)
Q: Is the trail open?
–ADAM WEBSTER (05/28/2021)
A: The trail is seasonally closed every year until the beginning of July. Wet/snowy conditions can keep the trail closed longer.
–Ryan Boudreau (05/31/2021)
A: Not until about July when the snow clears.
–Todd (05/29/2021)
Q: Sorry, I wish I could re edit what I hastily wrote below in other question below:) So here's where we are- I have watched about 7 Red Cone YouTube videos. I figure no video does the final descent justice. I am now tending to go for the full day 2018 Honda Rancher ATV rental for Webster South to Red Cone North and then re join Webster and go back up to the starting trail head. Figure 6 hours. More than a half day rental (7-12) but shorter than a full day. That way we are not rushed and can take pixs and take our time. What I meant by "Easier than a jeep" (below) is riding an atv down the steep final descent might feel a little bit more comfortable than a jeep since you are lower to the ground. Thanks J Ranello for the response.
–steve michael stefany (06/10/2020)
A: As mentioned already, I have no personal experience coming down Red Cone on an ATV, but see many people do it. I think your time frame works fine for the ATVs, it might be a bit of a hasty ride on the Jeep though depending on how well built your suspension is. But yes, doable. When is your rental? Red Cone and Webster are still currently closed and will be through at least this Saturday.
–Ryan Boudreau (06/23/2020)
A: Rentals are pricey, but there's so much scenery/side routes coming out of Montezuma you will be happy to have time. They will definitely prefer the ATV on Webster, 'the narrows' is in fact just that. In dry weather the RC decent isnt bad as long as your comfortable with heights and familiar with engine braking - im honestly not sure how that works with ATV's so can't comment on one being easier than the other (full disclosure I'm assuming you and/or rental company checked the MVUM for these routes). Red Cone is somewhat technical all the way through, ATV's will have an easier time getting around obstacles. I took my Tacoma through stock but would not recommend that.
–J Ranello (06/10/2020)
Q: In reference to question below- if we rented ATVs for a full day would it work them with doing all of Webster and coming back (1/2 way) on Red Cone. What about ATVs going down the last part of Red Cone? Easier than a jeep? Thanks.
–steve michael stefany (06/10/2020)
A: I think, if you didn't lollygag too much, you could do all of this in one day. Coming down from Red Cone Peak would be more challenging on an ATV than in a truck because your track width would always have two wheels in the middle of the trail where the rocks are much looser. An experienced rider could do it. I would not recommend it for a beginner.
–Trint Ladd (10/14/2021)
Q: So I've booked some atvs out of Dillon. We have a jeep but I want two 19 year olds to have some fun driving their own atv. Question. We pick up the atvs at 7am and have to have them back by noon. We drive them in a trailer to the Webster north trail head. I like opinion on this "trip." So we start down Webster from the north and go to the bottom end, return Red Cone and join Webster where Red Cone connects with Webster half way up Webster, and return Webster. Can that be done in a rough 4 hour time frame (7:30am to 11:30am)? I thinking it is too much for 4 hours (1 hr r.t. transport time). So...the second question is...why can't we start out at the north Webster trail head, come down Webster half way and go up Red Cone for about :45 mins. - maybe to waypoint #5 or wherever :45 mins. takes us on Red Cone and then turn around and come back. My rough estimate for that shorten trip is about 3 1/2 hours. That would work. Thoughts? Thanks.
–steve michael stefany (06/09/2020)
A: The Webster/Red Cone route is one of my favorites, short answer - can you swing renting the ATV's for a full day? You could probably do it on your timeline, but that would leave 0 time for stopping and or any trouble. With time to take in the scenery I usually plan on 5-6 hours roundtrip, and that doesnt count getting to the trailhead and loading/unloading which always seems to take longer than I budgeted. Unfortunately the 2nd idea you had is not possible, Red Cone is one-way downhill at the intersection of Webster. Even if that weren't the case I would highly caution against trying to go up it unless the 19yr olds were extremely experienced (IMO barely possible at that age)
–J Ranello (06/10/2020)
Q: Is the trail open yet? 3JUN20?
–Peyton Lange (06/03/2020)
A: No, still closed. Work day is scheduled for June 27th, so possibly open June 28th, definitely by July 4th.
–Ryan Boudreau (06/04/2020)
Q: So I understand there is camping off of Webster Pass... We plan on truck camping, very little footprint and setup, do I need to call ahead somewhere and check in or get a pass like other spots? Thanks in advance!!!
–Seth (07/16/2018)
A: There are two developed Forest Service Campgrounds along the way, Hall Valley Campground & Handcart Campground. Those are both first come first serve and charge nightly fees on site. Not very many sites at those. For more info on those, just google them. Otherwise, there are numerous free, dispersed spots along Webster and actually a couple within the first mile on Red Cone. Just be aware the Forest Service has designated some areas as parking only and no camping. They are well marked. If caught camping in those parking only spots, you will be fined.
–Ryan Boudreau (07/16/2018)
Q: Will my wrangler with 32" tires make it okay?
–David Ramirez (06/27/2018)
A: With careful tire placement at wp2, you should have no issue. Make sure to use your lowest gear possible on the Red Cone decent, and don't use the brakes. Have fun!
–Ryan Boudreau (06/27/2018)
Q: Is red cone and webster pass accessible with RZR. If so when can one park a trailer.
–Radek Gebala (05/12/2018)
A: When both passes are clear, yes they are accessible with a RZR. There is a trailer parking lot at the handcart trailhead off hall valley road just a little ways before handcart campground. Red Cone usually opens July 4th weekend, but it is a one way trail from waypoint 6 until the end. To return to your trailer, you will need to either turn around there or meet up with Webster pass and take that back down after the snow has cleared, however keep in mind that Webster pass usually has a snow cornice at the top blocking that route untill usually a month after red cone opens.
–Ryan Boudreau (05/12/2018)

Writer Information

Ryan Boudreau

Mapping Crew - Colorado

Hi, I'm Ryan! I am a Colorado native and I've been wheeling since I was 16 years old. I grew up with a relentless passion for all things Jeep and off road related, and that passion has never died out. I am a member of the Mile-Hi Jeep Club, Patrol 16 Sasquatch Jeepers and currently own an '06 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited (LJ) nicknamed "Minion". I am a huge supporter of Stay the Trail and Tread Lightly, and have participated and even been in charge of many trail restoration projects. I have been a trail leader several times for events such as All-4-Fun, ColoradoFest, Set Them Free, 14er Fest, and other. I am also the creator of the Unlimited LJ Adventure. My rig is built for extreme offroading, but I love to get my tires dirty on any kind of trail whether it's rock crawling or just scenic high Alpine drives. I've wheeled all over the country including Colorado, Utah, Kansas, the Carolinas, AZ, and California. I love a great adventure, and love even more to share those adventures with others. If you see the "minion" out on the trail, make sure to stop and say hello.
For individual use only, not to be shared.