Near Grant in the Pike National Forest, the Red Cone Road is a serious 4WD road and should not be undertaken by inexperienced drivers. Vehicles have rolled off the ridge descending the steep, loose slopes north of Redcone Peak. It is also a one-way road (south to north) due to high use.
This road often does not open until late June. A round trip is usually only possible in August and September because of the large snowbank just below the top of Webster Pass on the Handcart Gulch side, which does not melt off on until then.
From Handcart Gulch, the road ascends Sawmill Gulch to its head, where it then climbs to the ridge between Handcart and Buno Gulches. The road climbs the ridge to the summit of Red Cone Peak. From the summit the road descends extremely steeply on a very loose, moguled track. This is a serious undertaking and once the descent has begun, you are committed. After September, new snow has generally begun to accumulate and the gates will again be closed. Return down Webster Pass road FDR 121 (very narrow shelf road), if open, into Handcart Gulch, or continue north towards Montezuma into the Dillon Ranger District of the White River National Forest.
Highlights include views of Handcart Gulch, the Continental Divide, and in all directions from the Red Cone summit. At a saddle just above timberline, the South Park trail (#700) climbs up to the road from the north. It was once used for transporting ore, first from the mines in the Geneva valley to the smelter at the foot of Handcart Gulch, then later from the Hall Valley mines to the newer smelter at the foot of Smelter Gulch on Geneva Creek. Vegetation includes spruce, lodgepole pine and aspen at lower elevations with tundra and boulder fields at higher elevations. Do not drive off the road, particularly not on delicate alpine tundra.
To reach the trailhead from Denver, travel southwest on US 285, through Bailey and Grant, to Hall Valley (CR 60). Turn northwest on CR 60 (FDR 120) and travel .25 miles past Handcart Gulch Campground to the Webster Pass and Red Cone sign at the junction of FDR 120 and 121.
Check with USFS for gate opening/closing information on the Red Cone section (303) 275-5610. There is also a sign at the turn off of US 285 indicating whether the road is open or closed.
Note: Colorado residents must register their off-highway vehicle with the Colorado State Parks (303) 866-3437. Out-of-state residents who bring OHVs into Colorado must purchase a Colorado Non-Resident OHV permit which is valid from the date of purchase through the following March 31. These permits can be purchased anywhere you get your hunting/fishing licenses in Colorado. All off-highway vehicles must have an approved muffler and spark arrester. These requirements are subject to change so make sure to contact the Colorado State Parks prior to using your off-highway vehicle.
Note: As of September 2007, ATV riding on Forest Service roads is limited to designated roads that are signed as open or marked on the forest recreation map. To be safe (and legal), contact the Forest Service HQ to obtain a map at (719) 553-1400.