Red Elephant Hill Hike

This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
20.6 km
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
1,024 m
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Directions to Trailhead

We know what you’re thinking… are we going to see a red elephant? Unfortunately, no, there is a lack of the advertised red elephants on the Red Elephant Hill Hike. Nevertheless, this trail is incredibly scenic as you traverse through towering aspens and striking granite outcroppings. Shared with OHV (off-road vehicles), the route is well-signposted and easy to navigate.

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Route Description for Red Elephant Hill Hike

The Red Elephant Hill Hike is an exciting adventure through the James Peak Wilderness. Shared with mountain bikers and OHVs, this trail is a popular gathering spot for outdoor adventurers. Trek the wide dirt road up to the summit of Red Elephant Hill and around the surrounding wilderness. If you are hiking, be careful of speedy OHVs passing by—do your best to stay on the shoulder of the road.

Embark on your adventure around Red Elephant Hill Hike from the Red Elephant Hill Trail from the gate. Ascend the steep, forested valley up to the summit of Red Elephant Hill. Enjoy the vistas of the neighboring peaks from atop the hill. When you are ready, continue hiking the Red Elephant Hill Trail through the woodlands and past granite outcrops. Eventually you will encounter an intersection. From here the loop can be completed in either direction but we prefer to hike this one clockwise. Turn left and you will be diverted onto the North Empire Creek Trail. Follow this route all the way around the loop, ignoring other merging and intersecting paths.

Hike along the route as it weaves you between trees and exposed ridges. The path will gradually curve you back towards the Red Elephant Hill Trail. Just prior to meeting back up with the trail, you will notice a log cabin called the “Empire Hilton”. Hike past the charming shack and when you meet back up with the Red Elephant Hill Trail, take it and retrace your steps along the route all the way back to the trailhead.

Getting to the Red Elephant Hill Hike Trailhead

The entrance to the Red Elephant Hill Hike is accessed via County Road 308.

Route Information

  • Backcountry Campground

    Dispersed Backcountry Camping, restrictions apply.

  • When to do


  • Pets allowed

    Yes - On Leash

  • Family friendly


  • Route Signage


  • Crowd Levels


  • Route Type


Red Elephant Hill Hike Elevation Graph

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