|Highest Elevation:||10588 feet|
|Duration:||About 2 hours|
|Shape of Trail:||Straight Through|
|Best Direction to Travel:||North|
|Nearest Town w/ Services:||Downieville-Lawson-Dumont|
|Official Road Name:||171.1, 171.3A, 171.3C|
|Management Agency:||Arapahoe National Forest/ Clear Creek Ranger District|
About 1 hour from Denver, Colorado and situated within the Arapaho National Forest the Red Elephant Hill Off-Road Trail is the toughest trail in the Empire Loop. The Empire Loop is a network of trails just above Empire, Colorado that also includes Bill Moore Lake and Mill Creek. While Red Elephant is better suited for a built rig, an epic day can be had running the entire loop which leads you through forest, rocks, and open meadows amid high alpine lakes.
Quite rocky or deep ruts. Rocks to 12" and frequent. Water crossings may exceed hub depth with strong currents. Shelves to 6". Mud may require checking before proceeding. Moderate grades to 20 degrees. Sidehill may approach 30 degrees. 4WD necessary and second attempts may be required with stock vehicles. Caution may be required with wider vehicles.Read more about our rating system
Follow the dirt road uphill. The scenery improves the further you get away from the highway. The road will have a few switchbacks with a few houses along the way. Please mind private property and keep the noise and dust to a minimum.
Continue following the road. It starts to get narrow from here on out.
Follow the main road northwest. The road to the right and uphill leads to a mining area, but at the time of publishing we are not certain the legal status of using those roads.
Continue straight. The road is washed-out in places.
Follow the road right/north.
Driver's choice. The left line is the easier.
Continue following the road as you pass the Boulder Nest Mine.
Continue following the road straight to the northwest.
Continue to follow the road straight.
From here the road turns rough with several small obstacles and boulders to pick your way through.
Most of the obstacles along the trail push you right up against a tree and are slightly off-camber. Just hug your passenger as close to the tree as possible.
Most vehicles should fit through the rock and the tree.
The road will smooth out and you will want to gain speed, but this short downhill is tippy so keep it slow.
There are two lines depending on your build. Bigger builds can stay on the higher rocks to the left, where the less aggressive builds can hug their passenger side along the tree to the downward slope. This is the notorious tippy section of the trail and the tippy factor changes year to year. Travel carefully.
Views off in the distance before travelling into an aspen grove.
Perfect spot for a snack and taking in the views.
This is probably the harder obstacle on the entire trail. There are two lines with the harder one being the left side through the boulders.
Continue straight and slightly uphill.
The trail joins the Bill Moore Lake Off-Road Trail here. We do not recommend running Red Elephant Hill from this direction for its entirety due to limited passing.
Trailhead Coordinates: 39.764277, -105.635184