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Railroad Hikes?

Information on peaks other than the CO 14ers and 13ers.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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'.
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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....
http://hike.mountainzone.com/hotw/co/hagerman-tunnel/index.html

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.

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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.
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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

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