Red Elephant Hill

Downieville-Lawson-Dumont, Colorado (ClearCreek County)

Last Updated: 05/16/2022
4.9 / 5 ( 17 reviews )
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Typically Open: Year Round
Length: 4.65 miles
Highest Elevation: 10588 feet
Duration: About 2 hours
Shape of Trail: Straight Through
Best Direction to Travel: North
Nearest Town: Downieville-Lawson-Dumont
Nearest Town w/ Services: Downieville-Lawson-Dumont
Official Road Name: 171.1, 171.3A, 171.3C
Management Agency: Arapahoe National Forest
District: Clear Creek Ranger District


Highlight: Red Elephant Hill
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.


Route Information

Technical Rating


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1. Trailhead (0 mi)
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.

Directions to Trailhead

Starting Point: Denver, Colorado

Take I-70 west to Downieville/Dumont(Exit 234) Take a right off the highway and immediately take a left headed west at the 4 way stop and travel along side I-70. Proceed and watch your speed because the speed limit changes a few times. Pass under the highway, then follow alongside the south side of I-70 where you will pass under one more time. Turn right immediately after the underpass. This is a good spot to air down.



Trail Reviews (37)

Questions & Answers (5)

Q: Is the Red Elephant Hill trail section restricted for ATV and SxS? Co-trek showing no OHV allowed in the first 3.9 miles of Red Elephant.
–Robert Steckler (08/17/2021)
–Ryan Boudreau (08/17/2021)
Q: Status is Impassable as of?
–TailGunner (10/23/2018)
–J Ranello (10/23/2018)
Q: I will be visiting Red Elephant Hill in September, driving up from Texas. Once you get to the end point of the trail, how do you get back to the highway to go back into Denver?
–Todd Parker (08/21/2018)
–Todd (08/21/2018)
–Todd Parker (08/21/2018)
–Todd (08/21/2018)
Q: Can you download a batch of trail gpx in an area?
–Kar (06/28/2018)
–Dennis Clark (06/30/2018)
–Todd (06/29/2018)
Q: Greg, did you get on to Bill Moore Lake or Mill Creek at all? Are they open also? Thanks.
–Erik Dam (05/21/2018)
–Greg (05/27/2018)
–Todd (05/22/2018)

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.