Alpine Tunnel West

Pitkin, Colorado (Gunnison County)

Last Updated: 06/18/2022
4.3 / 5 ( 9 reviews )
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Highlight: Alpine Tunnel West
The main trail of The Alpine Tunnel Historic District. This trail is for anyone interested in ghost towns, mining history, and of course, railroad history. The Alpine Tunnel was the first railroad bore ever drilled in the United States, the first ever to carry tracks under the Continental Divide and, in 1882, the highest point ever reached by a railroad at 11,251' above sea level. Anticipating that the mineral rich area would be the next big mining "bonanza,” as many as 10,000 different men worked to build the line and the tunnel at various times. Laborers, working for $3.50 per day, and explosives men, who worked for $5.00 per day, were often forced to go from their worksite to their cabins in groups in order to avoid being lost in the snow. The only complete structure remaining is the Telegraph Office, which was built in 1890. The railway through the tunnel operated from 1882 to 1910 and cost $300,000 to build. The Alpine Tunnel Historic District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in April 1996.

Route Information

Technical Rating

( EASY )

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1. Trailhead ( mi)
From FR 765 turn onto FR 839.

Directions to Trailhead

This trail is usually accessed by taking Cumberland Pass or Hancock Pass. However, you start your trip northeast of Pitkin, Colorado at the junction of the Cumberland Pass Road (FR 765) and the Alpine Tunnel Road (FR 839).


Not allowed

Trail Reviews (9)

Questions & Answers (6)

Q: Ive heard rumors that the road was repaired and you can get to Alpine Tunnel site. Any truth to this?
–Mike (08/16/2021)
–Marcus Trusty (08/17/2021)
Q: We are arriving the first week in August with serveral of our friends. We want to run Tin Cup to Napoleon to Hancock (Starting and ending in St. Elmo. Is that loop open or is it currently closed midway due to avalanche? I am just checking because As I read these posts I am confused as to where the closures are and if the are still current. Thank you for your help and guidance. Becky
–Becky Springett (06/27/2021)
–Marcus Trusty (06/28/2021)
–Ryan Boudreau (06/28/2021)
Q: Marcus, I just wanted to follow up and see if you ever heard anything about plans to repair this road? This area is great, but it's sad to see this road closed and Tomichi Pass closed too.
–Josh Spring (03/25/2019)
–Marcus Trusty (03/26/2019)
Q: Approximately how many miles from way point 6 to the end of the trail?
–Lilo Elleman (06/27/2018)
–Marcus Trusty (06/27/2018)
Q: Marcus, I am planning a trip to your area at the end of July, I have an F150 FX4 Super Crew and was looking for some suggestions on some scenic routes to go off road. I am a novice at off roading as if you couldn't tell by what I have😊
–David Langley (05/20/2018)
–Marcus Trusty (05/21/2018)
Q: Are there any plans on repairing the section of the west portal road damaged by avalanche back in 2016?
–Jared Meketuk (04/14/2018)
–Marcus Trusty (04/14/2018)

Writer Information

Marcus Trusty

Mapping Crew - Colorado

Marcus is a 4th generation Buena Vista, Colorado native who grew up bouncing around the central Colorado mountains in the back of his dad's CJ5. During his younger years, Marcus grew to appreciate public lands and the recreation opportunities backroads and 4-wheel drive trails offer. Marcus has been wheeling for 20 years now and has wheeled in Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and California. Until a few years ago Marcus had just been a participant in the wheeling community, but he has become much more active in preserving trails and working to make sure the wheeling community has their access maintained for future generations. In 2017 Marcus helped to found Colorado Off Road Enterprise - CORE, based out of Buena Vista. CORE has worked with the Forest Service and BLM and has volunteer agreements in place with both organizations. CORE also has a Forest Service trail adoption agreement in place for Grizzly Lake, Pomeroy Lake, Hancock Lake, Hancock Pass, and Tincup Pass, Tomichi Pass, Williams Pass, Ptarmigan Lake, Mineral Basin, Clohesy Lake, Lost Canyon, Champion Mill, Iron Mike Mine, and Slide Lake. If Marcus is not working you can generally find him somewhere out on the trails around Buena Vista.
For individual use only, not to be shared.