Main Elk #2157

Hadley Gulch viewed from Elk Trail 2157)

The Main Elk trail is 2.5 miles long and connects the Clinetop Trailhead to the Mansfield Ditch Trail (#2291). From the Clinetop side, the first 0.5 miles of trail are relatively flat. This initial section crosses through private land, so please stay in the designated trail corridor. The trail then begins steadily climbing up a ridge, offering visitors outstanding views of Hadley Gulch, the Main Elk Creek valley, and Deep Creek Point. The trail continues to follow the top of the ridge, gradually gaining elevation and winding its way through thick oak brush. At 2.5 miles, visitors will reach the Mansfield Ditch Trail. From here, a left turn will take visitors south to the Forest Boundary, and a right turn leads north toward the Cherry Creek Connector and Clark’s Point.

Main Elk Trail is open to foot, horse, and bicycle use.

At a Glance

Fees: No fee
Restrictions: Pack it in; Pack it out
Closest Towns: New Castle, Colorado
Water: No
Restroom: No
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. Walk or ride 0.25 miles back up the road to access Main Elk Trail. 

Note: The eastern end of the trail is located on Forest Road 603, about 0.25 miles south of the Clinetop Trailhead. To access the trail, park at the Clinetop Trailhead and walk or ride back down the road. Look for a small brown gate on the right hand side of the road, next to a larger green gate onto private property. Please respect all “Private Property,” “No Trespassing,” and “No Parking” signs. 

General Notes:

View of Main Elk Creek Valley from the trail.

View of Main Elk Creek valley

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


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  Area/Length : 
2.5 miles

  Latitude : 

  Longitude :