Hadley Gulch #1840

Looking up a dry Hadley Gulch to rock outcroppings

Hadley Gulch Trail leads visitors from Main Elk Creek to the top of Clinetop Mesa, gaining approximately 3,200 feet of elevation over a distance of 5 miles. Along the way, visitors will pass beneath steep slopes and picturesque rock faces as they follow the path through the bottom of the gulch.

The trail begins at the Clinetop Trailhead and initially heads north. This initial trail segment has a mild grade and offers good views towards Main Elk Canyon. At about 0.3 miles visitors will come to a fork in the trail; keep right to remain on the path for Hadley Gulch (the left fork leads to a popular climbing area above Main Elk Creek). From here, the grade begins to increase as the trail angles away from the creek. The trail soon enters Hadley Gulch and begins to steadily climb. Visitors will initially pass through stands of oak brush and aspen before reaching an old burn area. The gulch narrows over the final few miles, offering a close-up perspective of the surrounding slopes and rock faces. 

At about 4.5 miles, the trail emerges from the gulch, turns north, and leads visitors to the top of the Mesa. At this point, visitors are treated to expansive views of the nearby meadows and surrounding topography. Hadley Gulch trail ends at Forest Road 653 near the Clinetop Cow Camp. 

View the Recreation Opportunity Guide for the Hadley Gulch Trail (.pdf ).

Hadley Gulch is a prime spot for wildlife viewing. The trail is mainly in oak brush and pinon/juniper with some willow A light snow dusting in Hadley Gulch area

At a Glance

Fees: No fee
Usage: Light-Medium
Closest Towns: New Castle, CO
Water: None
Restroom: None
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center: Rifle Ranger District, (970) 625-2371

General Information


From New Castle, CO travel north on County Road 245 (Buford-New Castle Road). After 3.1 miles, turn right onto County Road 243 (Main Elk Creek Road) and travel 5.8 miles to the Clinetop Trailhead. The trailhead will be on the left side of the road.


Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Day Hiking

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Viewing Wildlife

Viewing Scenery

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  Area/Length : 
5.0 miles

  Latitude : 

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