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Level: Advanced
Length: 18 mi (29 km)
Surface: Other
Configuration: Loop
Elevation: +907/ -736 ft
Total: 49 riders

Mountain Biking CDT: Alpine Tunnel

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#29 of 1,348 mountain bike trails in Colorado
#164 in the world

This ride starts in the ghost town of St. Elmo.From here ride east on the you drove in on .Turn right on Hancock Road FSR 295.You are now on the historic Denver,South Park and Pacific railroad grade. After about six miles you enter the old townsite of Hancock. Cross the bridge look for Alpine Tunnel trail sign.On the lower part of the trail there are still alot of railroad ties left. It's amazing since the railroad has,t operated since 1910. The trail continues to the east portal. Just before the tunnel turn left on Continental Divide Trail. The next five miles is singletrack almost entirely above timberline. Climb a steeply for about 1/2 mile.When you come to a trail junction at top of ridge follow CDT to the right. Climb some more. From here you can see Tunnel Lake. The singletrack is difficult and rated expert. There are streem crossings and beautiful alpine meadows for several miles.One more climb, then a screaming downhil until you reach FSR267.1 Turn right down a rocky old minning road to St. Elmo.

First added by lostcause on Aug 16, 2005. Last updated Apr 30, 2020. → add an update
Before you go
  • Drinking water: unknown
  • Lift service: unknown
  • Night riding: yes
  • Pump track: unknown
  • Restrooms: unknown
  • Fat bike grooming: unknown
  • E-bikes allowed: unknown
  • Fee required: unknown
This trail information is user-generated. Help improve this information by suggesting a correction.
Getting there
16 milels north of Salida on highway 285 look for sign to St. Elmo.Turn left, west on county road 162.Drive 15 miles to St. Elmo. Park along side of road.
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Greg Heil (on Sep 11, 2019)
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(on Jul 4, 2018)
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Mountain Bike Trails Near St Elmo, Colorado

Intermediate | 6 mi
| 3 mi
Intermediate | 10 mi
Easiest | 5 mi

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  • John Fisch

    Great loop! The five mile dirt road warmup is perfectly scenic. The next doubletrack stretch is also scenic and adds a few rocks for fun. Then, once at the tunnel, the genuine singletrack that ascends to the top of the ridge, is vicious, but very well worth it. There is some very cool above treeline touring. Then the singletrack plummet into the lush, wooded hillside is a blast! Then its a few miles of alternating smooth and rocky road back into St Elmo Ghost town. 18 miles with almost 2,500 feet of climbing, but it feels like more due to the altitude (goes over 12K ft).

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  • tomcat32

    This was the first alpine ride I did when I moved to Colorado. The route starts out easy up the dirt road to Hancock (Watch for Jeeps and ATVs on weekends). The trail begins to climb toward Alpine Tunnel but is still moderate at best. From the Tunnel the trail gets steep rising to the Continental Divide Trail. The trail is primitive on the CDT with a barely visible ribbon of trail at places. Don't expect fast time on the CDT or a well worn tread much of the way above treeline. Don't worry about going slow though because the views are awesome and you'll enjoy the slower pace so you can look at the 360 views of alpine vistas. The trail drops on nice treaded singletrack on switchbacks back down to Tincup Road and a fast downhill road to St. Elmo. The ride isn't overly technical but the elevation notches the ride in difficulty. The intitial climb to above the Alpine Tunnel is probably going to be a hike a bike for a few minutes. Theres a good chance you'll be alone above Alpine Tunnel as well. Lots of neat mining era relics along the way and St Elmo is interesting ghost town.
    http://tomcatoutdoors.blogspot.com/2014/09/alpine-mountain-biking-on-cdt-st-elmo.html this link will show you pictures and give a thorough write up

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  • Greg Heil   ✓ supporter

    This section of singletrack along the Continental Divide may be one of the most epic backcountry-style high alpine rides I've ever done! The views are to die for, the singletrack is sweet, and the history along the Alpine Tunnel section is very interesting. Topping out at 12,300 feet, this ride isn't for the faint of heart... or the faint of lungs!

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  • ACree

    One of my favorite rides in CO. Not a lot of singletrack for the mileage, but lots of history and great views. Rated at 4 due the narrow and primitive singletrack. The trail is very faint in places, however it's not overly technical at all.

    For another variation with a bit more history, take a left on Williams Pass, cross the continental divide, then climb up to the Alpine Tunnel from the West.

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