Rating - 5
The trail to Red Cone Mountain is not very technical and can be driven in a capable high clearance 4WD vehicle. The allure of Red Cone is not the ascent but the incredible view at the apex of the mountain and the scare factor of the descent.
From Colorado Springs travel on Highway 24 for about 39 miles to Lake George and then travel for about .5 mile and turn north or right onto CR77. Travel on CR77 for about 39 miles to the small town of Jefferson, then turn north on US 285. Go for another miles and then turn left or west on CR 60.
The Red Cone Trail is really a trail with 3 distinct sections. The first section is a rather uneventful trip through a very beautiful tree lined trail. At first you will travel through a couple of miles of an Aspen forest with some small rocks and sharp switchbacks. The foliage on the side of the trail quickly changes to a Conifer forest and the trail has some slightly larger rocks and the pitch of the trail starts to become a little more steep.
Once you come out of the forest the trail above timberline flattens out somewhat. Then you will start to drive on a ridge that becomes increasinly steep until you reach the top of Red Cone Mountain. You will definitely want to "Stay the Trail" during this section as the mountain drops off several hundred feet on either side of the trail. After you reach the apex of Red Cone be sure to stop and enjoy that top of the world feeling you get for being at 12,800 feet above sea level. Sometimes we are also Blessed to enjoy the company of a small herd of mountain goats at the top of Red Cone. Its amazing that any animals want to and can live at that elevation.
After your mountain top experience you will then get to experience the allure of the Red Cone trail. While the ascent the top of Red Cone is rather uneventful the descent more than makes up for the lackluster ascent. The descent down Red Cone is very steep, with loose dirt, steep drop offs on the sides and some very large moguls. The descent is definitely a white knuckle experience and is so difficult the Forest Service considers this portion of the trail to be one way only.
During the descent its not uncommon for the back end of you vehicle to start to fish tail. While the natural response for this is to brake its the absoltely the wrong adjustment. As difficult as it seems the correct response is to slighlty accelerate.