Alpine Tunnel Trail Episode Two
Alpine Tunnel Trail is an easy family hike of 6.3 miles out and back.
Trailhead is located at the ghost town of Hancock, Colorado. Trail to Alpine Tunnel has very little elevation gain, so its a great hike for the whole family. Gorgeous views, wildflower and great chance to see a moose in the meadow above the tunnel.
Alpine Tunnel Trail is also part of the Continental Divide Trail and Colorado Trail. At Alpine Tunnel the trail forks to the left up a steep incline to Tunnel Lake or on the down the trail a few hundred miles to Durango, Colorado. At this point I continued on past the tunnel and old camp of the railroad and tunnel worker up into the back of the valley.
On this day I ought to have brought ice skates, the trail was smooth as glass for about three fourths of a mile in places, making the hike quite interesting.
The Alpine Tunnel Station Complex was constructed here to support people heading east or west on the South Park system, which made the Complex the very heart of railroad operations. Near completion of the tunnel, the Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroads constructed two stone structures at the site. The craftsmen were Italian masons using the locally quarried hand-fitted granite to erect the massive engine house as well as the section house that came with a kitchen, dining room, pantry, and several bedrooms.
The area of the Complex continued to grow as records indicate, with a bunkhouse, store house and wash house also erected at this time. Although these structures can only be witnessed as crumbling ruins in this day and age, the telegraph office – constructed in 1883 – has remained the centerpiece of the Alpine Tunnel through huge restoration efforts. Not only have volunteers aided in keeping the telegraph office alive, but the groups have also reconstructed the station platform and re-laid 120 feet of original Denver and South Park rails.
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