Elkhorn Mountain  
Maps:                        
USGS 7.5' Map: Elkhorn Mountain, Shield Mountain
Statistics:
Difficulty: Number: Miles: Altitude: Obstacles: Time:
Easy 4 FR 508 8.90 7,040 to 9,550 ft. NA 3-4 hours
County: Routt and Jackson
Adopted by:      
Managed by: Routt National Forest,
Hahns Peak / Bears Ears Ranger District
925 Weiss Drive
Steamboat Springs, CO 80487-9315
970-870-2299
Summary:
Attractions:
Seasonal
Closure:
Forest Service - from December 1 to June 15
Best Time: June - May still have drifts higher up
July - Best
August - Best
September - Best
Trails
Accessed:
Whiskey Creek, FT1197 - Motorcycle only.
Camping: There are some dispersed sites at the east and west end of the road.
Base Camp: This would be a good area to base camp and explore the large number of surrounding 4WD roads, as well as motorcycle, ATV, and UTV trails.
Fall Colors: Very Good - Lots of aspen along the road.
Navigation: To get to the east end from Hahns Peak, CO. head northwest on County Rd 129 toward County Rd 62 and go 5.2 miles. Turn right onto Forest Rd 550 and continue to follow Forest Rd 550 for 3.8 miles. Slight left onto US Forest Service Rd 501 and go 1.8 miles. Turn right onto Forest Rd 501 and go 1.3 miles. Slight left onto Forest Rd 550 and go 2.4 miles. Turn left to stay on Forest Rd 550 and go 1.7 miles. Turn left onto Elkhorn Mountain road, FR508.

To get to the west end from Hahns Peak, CO. head northwest on County Rd 129 toward County Rd 62 for 17.7 miles. You will enter the Three Rivers Ranch. Take a sharp right onto County Rd 129B and go about 1.4 miles to a right turn onto Elkhorn Mountain road, FR508.
History: In 1987 reports claimed that early prospectors were finding large lodes of precious metals. By the 1900s Whiskey Park was attracting large numbers of miners. The Elkhorn Mine was the largest and most developed in the Whiskey Park area. At 40 feet deep the mine hit fourteen inches of solid silver. The vein was said to be one-fourth solid silver, valued at $1000 a ton, plus $30 of gold per ton. After these reports not much was heard about Whiskey Park again.

Athearn, Frederic J. An Isolated Empire: A History of Northwestern Colorado Bureau of Land Management: Third ed., 1982, Print.
Eberhart, Perry Guide to the Colorado ghost towns and mining camps Swallow Press, Athens Ohio: Fourth ed., 1987, Print.
Description:
Elk Horn Mountain, starting from the east end, is a graded road that gently climbs from the Whiskey Park, FR550, road into the forest. It passes a few campsite as it crosses a small meadow. After about a mile you will pass an intersection to the right for FR508.1C, which is a very short spur road, and then shortly after you will come to an intersection with FR508.1A to the left. This spur road is over a mile long and ends after a long swtichback.

Continuing on FR508, after a mile and a half you will come to the Whiskey Park Trail Head for motorcycles only. There will be a camp site in this area as well as a water crossing. You will be in the aspen forest as you climb up Elkhorn Mountain
Into the aspen forest

photo by:
Adam M

After another three quarters of a mile you will come to the remains of the Elkhorn Mine on the left side of the road. There are some old tailings and some mining equipement in the forest, but no buildings are still standing.
Elkhorn Mine remains

photo by:
Adam M

Just past the mine is an intersection with FR508.1F to the left. This is about a half mile long spur road that goes east to another part of the Elkhorn Mine claim. The main road will be to the right where there will be a rutted steep section to climb. The road will start to climb up toward Elkhorn Mountain from here. There will be another rocky steep section before you reach the top of Elkhorn Mountain. From the top the views are mostly blocked by the forest.
Elkhorn Mountain view

photo by:
Adam M

From the top of Elkhorn Mountain the road goes down the west side with a few short switchbacks. This section is narrow through the trees and rocky with some deeper cut section of road. At the bottom the road flattens out again and crosses another rough section. There will be a few more small meadows along sloping hills to cross before you reach the intersection with FR508.1J. This is a spur road that ends at FT1149 which is for 50 inches or less vehicles.
Small meadows on the west side of Elkhorn Mountain

photo by:
Adam M

Past the intersection with FR508.1J you will start down an overgrown gulch. In this area you will pass through areas covered in large ferns. They are the main ground cover under the few aspen trees in the area. After about a mile from the last intersection you will come to FR508.1H to your left. It goes about a mile to a small pond. Very shortly from here you will come to an intersection with FR508.1I to the left. This is a mile and a half spur road that heads south. To the right FR508 will continue.

The road will continue through thicker aspen groves as it works its way west. After a mile and a half you will drop down to a ridge above a creek. There will be a flat open area where there are a few camp spots. From here the road drops down a series of switchbacks that can be slick when wet. Below the switchback you will run along a small ridge before dropping down into gambel oak and sage.
Thicker aspen forest past FR508.1I intersection

photo by:
Adam M

The road will still be a two track as it drops lower and loops around a small gully. There will be more open areas as the road heads west before leaving public lands and connecting with a county road. At the intersection with the county road take the left to head back to County 129. You will pass through Three Rivers Ranch property before you come out onto County 129.
Three Rivers Ranch property

photo by:
Adam M

Data updated - December 29, 2016      4WD Road driven - September 5, 2016      Copyright 4X4Explore.com - 2000-2016