Railroad Hikes?

Information on peaks other than the CO 14ers and 13ers.
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Jun 04, 2009 2:03 pm

Railroad Hikes?

Postby ivnabru » Fri Mar 26, 2010 6:30 am

So I'm not sure if there are any around other than the incline. But does anyone know of any hikes/scenic places where you're climbing along the rails for any significant portion? This is a pretty general question I know, but I guess I'm just looking for something that isn't in the middle of the city where I can just climb/walk on some train tracks. Preferably something that has some nice views and some at least somewhat challenging uphill portions.

I grew up walking the traintracks on the east coast and it's more of a nostalgia thing than anything so it doesn't have to be a major hike or anything just somewhere not in a city if possible.

Oh and somewhat close to Denver would be even better.

User avatar
Posts: 154
Joined: Sun Nov 09, 2008 8:55 am
Location: Colorado Springs, CO

Re: Railroad Hikes?

Postby George Kaplan » Fri Mar 26, 2010 7:03 am

The south faces of Mt. Morrison by Red Rocks, and Red Mountain in Manitou Springs are also both the former sites of inclined railroads. However, both do not have ties left behind like the Incline; the uniform angle of the grade that the tracks originally sat on are all that is left behind. You can at least tell that something used to be there though. There are also a few old foundations at the peak as well.

Posts: 364
Joined: Sat Jun 30, 2007 7:18 am
Location: Chaffee Cty - One Dozen 14ers

Re: Railroad Hikes?

Postby MtnHermit » Fri Mar 26, 2010 7:10 am

The west is full of old railroad grades that you can hike. But, less so if you need the rails still in place. Most of the rails went into WWII scrap drives.

Some that come to mind:
- the Midland RR grade east of Buena Vista, most of that is open in the spring to bicycles and foot
- The trail to the Alpine Tunnel, ~6 mi, not open until mid-June ~11,000', hike from the tunnel to the CD, nice steep and scenic

Preferably something that has some nice views and some at least somewhat challenging uphill portions.
You're asking for an impossibility. Steel wheels on steel rails are limited to a 4% grade unless you do a cog.

User avatar
Posts: 3087
Joined: Thu Aug 17, 2006 4:04 pm
Location: Tabernash, CO

Re: Railroad Hikes?

Postby MtHurd » Fri Mar 26, 2010 7:10 am

It's not near Denver, but Corkscrew Gulch in the San Juans is a great place for a hike and to check out the turntable. PM me if you want any details.

User avatar
Posts: 2003
Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2007 8:04 am
Location: Denver

Re: Railroad Hikes?

Postby Presto » Fri Mar 26, 2010 7:21 am

by Barry Raven » Fri Mar 26, 2010 8:10 am

It's not near Denver, but Corkscrew Gulch in the San Juans is a great place for a hike and to check out the turntable. PM me if you want any details.

+1. That is a wonderful suggestion ... and, the red/gold mountains around there really make this hike beautiful. Happy trails! :D
As if none of us have ever come back with a cool, quasi-epic story instead of being victim to tragic rockfall, a fatal stumble, a heart attack, an embolism, a lightning strike, a bear attack, collapsing cornice, some psycho with an axe, a falling tree, carbon monoxide, even falling asleep at the wheel getting to a mountain. If you can't accept the fact that sometimes "s**t happens", then you live with the illusion that your epic genius and profound wilderness intelligence has put you in total and complete control of yourself, your partners, and the mountain. How mystified you'll be when "s**t happens" to you! - FM

Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Jun 04, 2009 2:03 pm

Re: Railroad Hikes?

Postby ivnabru » Fri Mar 26, 2010 8:53 am

Great stuff guys, I'll need to research all of these places after work and start a plan.

I didn't realize non-cog tracks were only limited to 4% grade, I guess the uphill portion doesn't have to be there then. I figure if I'm out away from the city I can probably find some mountains for the same day/weekend to make the whole deal more well rounded.

User avatar
Posts: 5045
Joined: Mon Jul 26, 2004 8:54 am
Location: Woodland Park, Colorado

Re: Railroad Hikes?

Postby CO Native » Fri Mar 26, 2010 9:31 am

The Manitou Incline was not a cog railway. Even a cog railway could not handle that grade. It was actually a cable tram.
Remember what your knees are for.

Posts: 189
Joined: Sat Sep 26, 2009 12:41 pm

Re: Railroad Hikes?

Postby cwm » Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:11 am

The Georgetown Loop Railroad still operates in the summertime. But I don't know if they would allow anyone to walk on their tracks when they are open.

While there are no rails left the Argentine Central Railroad road bed still exists and it has an interesting history and is close to Denver and I-70. The north part starts just west of the Silver Plume station of the Georgetown Loop railroad. This time of year with the snow it is a good snowshoe or possibly cross a country ski trip. During the summer months the area on the south side of McClellan Mountain near Waldorf.

Do a web search for the Argentine Central Railroad. There is some interesting information and old photographs. They used the Shay Locomotives that were gear drives on this railroad. The Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden has a Shay Locomotive on display.

User avatar
Posts: 1219
Joined: Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:38 pm
Location: Desert Hills AZ

Re: Railroad Hikes?

Postby Mark A Steiner » Fri Mar 26, 2010 12:44 pm

Funny I had a dream about being in Waldorf last night which as you may know, is the jumping-off point to begin the ascent of Mount McClellan on the Argentine Central. Dreamed about the Quonset hut, too. If you hike from Waldorf, it is at least 4 miles with switchbacks to the 13,040-foot level that marks the end of the line. About 4% grade the way up. From there, it is an easy hike to the McClellan summit to the southwest. Never tried snowshoes, though.

I have a copy of "Narrow Gauge to Central and Silver Plume" (1972) I looked at last night before retiring. The volume is about the Colorado Central RR but also discusses the Argentine Central. No Quonset in the historic photos, tho'.
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content - Paul the Apostle.
Like it or not, I am a slow driver. Putt ... putt ... putt ...
Good day.

User avatar
Posts: 88
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2007 12:45 pm
Location: Chicago

Re: Railroad Hikes?

Postby Leigh » Fri Mar 26, 2010 1:38 pm

I believe the Hagerman Tunnel trail near Leadville follows an old railroad grade, but I'm not sure the tracks are still there....

I've been on a few old tracks around Marble, Colorado area near the old mines there, but it's been too many years for me to recall exactly where.

User avatar
Posts: 788
Joined: Mon Aug 15, 2005 5:17 pm
Location: Lakewood

Re: Railroad Hikes?

Postby JeffR » Fri Mar 26, 2010 9:16 pm

Well, you'd be hard-pressed to find any remaining rails where there isn't an active line running. The railroad almost always pulls them and sells them for scrap soon after the line is abandoned. I skimmed through a book called "Tracking Ghost Railroads in Colorado" a few years ago. Lots of good historical info in it that may help you.
To recognize the beauty in sadness, without playing host to the pain...
- Under the Sun, "Reflections"

User avatar
Posts: 14
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2009 2:54 pm
Location: Superior, CO

Re: Railroad Hikes?

Postby AKAMonkey » Sat Mar 27, 2010 11:42 am

This wouldn't really be walking the tracks themselves but if you want to walk close to them for a while and still get a beautiful hike in I would suggest taking off from the Moffat Tunnel in Rollinsville and hiking up to either Arapaho Lakes or Crater Lakes. You are close enough for a good portion of the hike that you get to see and hear the train pass about every hour but you also get some amazing views and beautiful scenery. Maybe not totally what you are looking for but highly suggested for a day hike


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests