325 Rainbow Blvd.
Salida, CO 81201
- 5 miles
- 2.5 - 3.5 hours
- Trailhead Elevation:
- 11080 feet
- Elevation Range:
- 11080 feet to 11950 feet
- Elevation Change:
- 870 feet
- Summer to Fall
This trail offers hikers some of the most scenic views around. During July and August, wildflowers are in full bloom and blanket the alpine surroundings with a multitude of colors. This trail is very popular with photographers and hikers seeking pristine alpine areas.
The hike from Hancock to the east portal of the Alpine Tunnel follows the railroad grade for the historic Denver, South Park and Pacific line.
Coming Soon!! The Salida Ranger District and the Buena Vista Heritage Museum will be installing informational and interpretive signs along the trail. Signs will tell the history of the Alpine Tunnel and the DSP&P rail line.
A large portion of the trail is located above timberline and hikers should be aware of high elevation weather conditions. Weather can change rapidly. Lightning can be deadly at high altitude.
From Nathrop, (Highway 285), travel west on County Road 162 from approximately 17 miles to the junction with Forest Road 295. Turn left onto FR 295 and travel south for approximately 5.5 miles to the old townsite of Hancock. Hancock was an historic mining and railroad settlement that was abandoned in the 1920's. All remnants of the town are now gone and a simple sign marks the location of the town. From the Hancock sign the road curves to the right passing the access road for Hancock Pass (FR 299). A small parking area is available. From the parking area, visitors can walk west along the old railroad grade to the east portal of the historic Alpine Tunnel. From where the trail ends at the caved-in entrance to the tunnel, the trail travels up a steep hill for about 3/4 miles. The trail, at this point, is above timberline, and is marked by a series of rock cairns. Tunnel Lake is visible by looking northeast from the trail and hikers can descend from the trail down to the lake.
Hikers may continue on the trail for 3.5 miles to the Tincup Pass road (FR 267). The trail descends very steeply to the North Fork of Chalk Creek and Forest Road 267.