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Red Elephant Hill to Empire Loop [PRIVATE PROPERTY]

hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray Star(53)
Arapaho National Forest

Red Elephant Hill to Empire Loop [PRIVATE PROPERTY] is a 12.5 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Empire, Colorado that offers the chance to see wildlife and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, mountain biking, and ohv/off road driving and is best used from May until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Length 12.5 mi Elevation gain 3,336 ft Route type Loop

Dog friendly

Hiking

Mountain biking

Ohv / off road driving

Forest

Views

Wildlife

Rocky

Private property

Description
Waypoints (6)
Contact
Tips

Although hikers and mountain bikers may use this route, it is mostly an off-road driving route. The loop eventually reaches the Empire Hilton Cabin. This route is only for 4WD vehicles with high ground clearance. Red Elephant Hill is narrow, steep and tippy in places. Empire Loop is rocky. Users have reported that the beginning of this route is on a dirt road that passes through private property.

For current conditions call Arapaho National Forest, Clear Creek Ranger District at (303) 567-3000.

Pick a clear day when the trail is dry. Please pass occupied house near start of trail as quietly as possible to avoid disturbing residents. Trail conditions can change without notice.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (53)
Photos (67)
Recordings (31)
Completed (95)
John McCabe
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 8, 2020
OHV/Off Road DrivingRocky
View John's Recording
William Bertles
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 5, 2020
OHV/Off Road DrivingRocky

2016 JKUR 2" lift on 33's Rough & Rocky. Went up through Empire & Down via Red Elephant. Narrow tight trail. Ran trail on weekday; no traffic.

Tony Smith
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 18, 2020
OHV/Off Road DrivingRocky

This trail is not a good trail for heavy traffic days or a place to bring your whole off-road group to. I’d keep group sizes small two or three vehicles. If you want to bring more people break up into groups, plan your route so you all go the same way, and stagger the start time. There are not very many places to let another vehicle by, so if your going up Elephant and someone is coming down… It’s not going to be a good time. I personally recommend going up Red Elephant, and leaving via Empire (see my recording) After I got passed Red Elephant shortly before the fork for the suggested loop, a SxS had broke and was trying to limp down, had to back down the trail quite a ways to find a place I could pull off to let them by only reinforcing my opinion of making this a one way trail on say the weekends. The trail starts about a mile west of the Sinclair Gas Station in Downieville, So it’s the perfect meeting location for your group, or last stop to top off on gas / snacks before you head up. The trail head is easy to miss, as it doesn’t look like much when you drive by. We went on a Saturday, showed up around 9:30 and there was two vehicles parked with trailers at the base, turned out to be 4wheelers and SxS. It starts off with a pretty rocky trail winding up next to some peoples houses so please be respectful and stay on trail till you get to the top of the loop and then there are many options for exploring. I personally would rate this trail as Moderate. I have a JKU on 33s with a 4.5” lift and lockers. I didn’t have any problem going straight up Red Elephant, there is maybe a good ¼ mile of technical obstacles (mostly uneven rocks) that I would call Red Elephant, the rest of the trail was just rocky terrain. The trail is narrow, if you take the fork to the right to see the Hilton, there are some narrow trees that if you are in anything wider then a jeep (+/- 74”) you will get tree rash and even rub up on some trees. As you make your way around the loop the trail seemed to get smoother and more traveled. As you close the loop I recommend driving out Empire instead of back down Red Elephant encase some one is coming up. There’s no room to let someone bypass you so someone’s not going to have a good time backing up/down the trail. If you follow my suggestion, the trail turns into more of a forest service road and you pretty much just drive down and out. Pros: -Cell service almost the whole trip (Verizon) -Local Radio Stations -Lots of sights to see -Some Technical obstacles Cons: -Narrow Trail -Very few pull-offs -Tree branches over hang onto the trail, some spots you will get tree rash. You can search the app for “Bill Moore Lake OHV Route” for the route out I mentioned.

View Tony's Recording
Jonah Blomquist
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJune 14, 2020
OHV/Off Road DrivingRocky

Fj cruiser 3inch lift 33’s rear locker, trail was more difficult than expected but I only ended up using the locker once after some poor tire placement. Rock sliders heavily recommended.

Jeff Chappo
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 13, 2020
OHV/Off Road Driving

Great trail for built rigs

View Jeff's Recording
Mike Meinen
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OHV/Off Road DrivingOff trail

Really a fun trail, I wouldn’t call it difficult unless your running a stock or close to stock vehicle. There are some challenging spots, but like I said depending on your rig, that will determine how challenging it is. Some great views but heavy forest for the most part.

Daniel Smith
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMay 22, 2020
OHV/Off Road DrivingRockyScramble
View Daniel's Recording
Richard McMillan
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarOctober 2, 2019
OHV/Off Road DrivingRocky

Did the trail in my 2015 JKU, mods include D44 axles with 5.13 gears and ARB lockers front and rear, 4-inch lift, Fox shocks, sway bar disconnects., winch, 35’s (for now). This was my first time up. It was rocky, as well as steep and narrow in places. It’s definitely the hardest of the three Empire legs, but with slow going and careful line selection it is very doable. Rating it “hard” is, in my opinion, relative to the vehicle and trail conditions but does require a bit more than beginner level skills to get through.

Lori Shindel
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 4, 2019
OHV/Off Road DrivingRockyWashed out

It's a hard trail. I wouldn't do it alone. I have 37" tires and am locked up all the way around. Having a winch is a good idea.

Brayden Hunter
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarAugust 4, 2019
OHV/Off Road DrivingWashed out

went up this trail on 8-3-19 was extremely washed out and rutted was in a x3 and ended up turning around not to far up because I was on 2 wheels alot pretty fun if your into really technical stuff though

Allen Gentry
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 31, 2019
OHV/Off Road Driving

Ran this trail in the fall of 2018 with 5 or 6 Jeeps, mine being a 2009 JKU Sahara, 4” lift, 35” tires, open diffs and 5.13s. Fun trail, Aspens were beautiful. Easily done without lockers if you know where to put your tires.

Bradley Berryman
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 3, 2019
OHV/Off Road DrivingRocky

No snow on this trail as of 6/30/19. Excellent 4x4 route close to Denver that will certainly test your technical skills behind the wheel. High clearance, lockers, and skid plates highly recommended. One in our group was in a stock Jeep Rubicon and did just fine with lockers and spotting. Almost the entire hill until you get to the fork for empire loop is one large rock/boulder obstacle after another. We loved it, but not suggested for beginners.

Trent Ferdig
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMay 27, 2019
OHV/Off Road DrivingSnowWashed out

Be careful going up before the snow decides to melt again. The snow pack before you even get to the Y is so bad that it is impassible with 5’ of snow covers the trail. This trail is not a moderate trail, in my 17 Tacoma with 4” of lift and 34s with tons of flex there was one spot I had to winch. The other spots are really technical and rocky. Have proper gear when attempting to go up this trail.

Unterleibs guenther
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMay 25, 2019
OHV/Off Road Driving

We did this trail in my brand new stock jl rubicon....... before that we did another trail close that was rated „moderate“ and it was kinda easy ..... I’m not sure about the rating here..... but let me share this: it is doable for a Stock rubicon but it takes time a spotter or ground guide and some balls first 2miles took us 2hours. It is doable but with a stock rubicon I would rate it at the hard end of moderate.....we slept up there and next morning we almost got to the loop but there where heavy snowfields on the road frozen and hip deep we got stuck on one. Had to dig out the care ..... we would’ve made it easier with a winch...... so I will try it again with my stock vehicle in August with no snow...... I’m expecting it’s doable then..... we had some young folks coming up with some heavy Riggs including winch a lot of clearance and 37inch tires they had to turn around too..... So again absolute doable with stock rubicon but if you go in a time when ther is or might be still snow left then bring a shovel...... or 2 and a winch Otherwise if u are newbie bring always a spotter have locking differentials and skidplates (stock rubicon) And definitely bring your balls If you are pro you don’t need to read that cause you are a pro and won’t have a stock vehicle  Great trail nice views nature...... good for get some experience down and test your skills and vehicle

Austin Thornburg
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarApril 28, 2019
RunningPrivate propertyRocky

I ran this and was astounded that there were still tire marks the further up I got. Honestly the first two miles are a brutal when you're on foot. Almost as steep as the manitou incline. Great fun but definitely difficult for trail running. Also yes, the first quarter mile or so had private property but the road itself seemed public. After that you're just out in the woods.

Drew Preston
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarOctober 20, 2018
OHV/Off Road Driving

Taco, 2.5" Lift, 33s, Sliders Road to trailhead certainly looks like private property, but just do the "grip the wheel and don't make eye contact" thing. Only did the hill and part of the loop. Many snowy areas, lots of mud, and you can tell there are multiple holes that have been increasingly dug out by spinning tires, making the features more challenging. The 1 mile section of the loop I did (headed counterclockwise) was very tight with tricky spots that were entirely covered in snow. In comparison to other AllTrails ratings, I would rate this firmly within Hard and certainly not Moderate. You need considerable clearance, some skill, and a spotter. Rock sliders, skid plate, rear locker, maxtrax, and hand winch all saw some action on it today, primarily due to snow, mud, and big wet roots. Drive up the hill, but do not drive down; take the Bill Moore Lake trail back to Empire. Bill Moore is rated as Hard, but the section I drove back from Red Elephant was a very easy Moderate.

Trent Ferdig
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 22, 2018

It was a good trail up until I got to a technical point that I wasn’t going to attempt for fear of damaging my 2017 Tacoma. I have a 2” lift and the trail seemed to be washed out more than usual. If I wasn’t alone or if had a winch I would’ve attempted it. I will be coming back later when I am more equipped to tackle the obstacles.

Chase Cameron
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 12, 2018

completed 08.11.18, all gates open and water crossings down to a few inches. If you are looking for a challenge you will find it! narrow, long, steep and full of obstacles. I ended up with some new scars on my skid plates but with my ego intact. signed the guest book at the empire Hilton. -remember as you go up that you have to hit all the same stuff coming back down! '13 Wrangler sport, 3.5-inch AEV kit, 35's aired down to 11, novice driver.

Craig Flewell
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 7, 2018
Hiking

Ran this trail, the 20-30% grade in places, along with frequent giant holes created by 4x4 spinning tires made this route very challenging but fun.

Kristina Gould
Yellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJune 11, 2018
Hiking

This wasn’t even a hiking trail. It was an off-roading trail with an intense ascent and even worse decent. Loose rocks, litter, people drinking and shooting guns. Not worth it, don’t waste your time.

Steve Anderson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMay 13, 2018
OHV/Off Road Driving

Fun trail, but as of this date (5/12/18) it becomes unpassible at about 3 - 3 1/2 miles in because of deep heavy snow. Had to turn around.

JC Bässicly
Yellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarMarch 12, 2018

This trail has no access.

John Olmstead
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 20, 2017
OHV/Off Road Driving

Great trail, it's become more difficult thru the season this year. . the trees are changing color now so I'd suggest getting up there soon for best viewing.

Kenneth Breimon
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 13, 2017
OHV/Off Road Driving

I did this trail in a stock 2 door JK Rubicon. It required good line choice in 1-2 spots, otherwise I'd consider this an easy trail.

Shane Chambers
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 23, 2017

Don't hike this. it is an off roading trail. I am an idiot and thought it was a hike. The initial incline was pretty brutal, and the decent was terrible. 0/5 without a jeep.

Mitch Halberg
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 2, 2017
OHV/Off Road Driving

Great trail, we did this in a 2 door jk with 3.5" lift and 35s and I would definetly recommend using a lifted rig on this trail.

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