Destination: East Portal of the Alpine Tunnel
General Location: 2 miles west of Hancock
How To Get There: From the town of Hancock, cross the small bridge and park. The trailhead is well marked.
Difficulty: This trail can be hiked or travled on mountain bike, and in places the remains of the railroad ties can be seen. The trail is a moderate climb, very spectacular and evidence of the railroad can be seen all along the trail if you keep your eyes open.
Private Property & Responsible Recreation: Venturing off of public roads and lands onto private land is trespassing. The surrounding mountains have miles of underground tunnels and shafts. The area is dangerous and a once safe and stable area can suddenly collapse. The buildings also are in various state of decay and are also unsafe. Obey any posted signs, travel & recreate responsibly, and always tread lightly.
History of the Alpine Tunnel: For years mail and supplies came back and forth over the mountains to Tin Cup and Gunnison through several treacherous and lengthy passes: Tin Cup Pass, Taylor Pass and Altman Pass. A tunnel was planned with Gunnison as it's goal, starting 2 miles west of Hancock, and going under Altman Pass. It's cost? A mere $120,000! The tunnel, an engineering marvel, was the first to be constructed through the Continental Divide - completed in 1881. It was 1,845 feet long, 12 feet wide, and 17 feet high - supported and lined with California redwood. It's highest point was 11,608 feet. Both the east and the west portals have been closed, as the tunnel is extremely dangerous with rotted timbers.
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