Vapor Trail 125 - Chalk Creek to Alpine Tunnel

vapor trail logo
topo of section
topo of section

Miles 16.95 (mile 27.1 through mile 44.5)
Elevation Start 8,600
Elevation End 11,958
Character Long, steady climb

Birds-eye view of old St Elmo This section is a climb up a historic narrow-guage rail route that has become a road in modern times. The route largely follows the Chalk Creek drainage between the 14ers Mt Antero (to the south) and Mt Princeton (to the North) and then approaches the Continental Divide at the site of the Alpine Tunnel, completed in 1881 by the Denver, South Park and Pacific (D,SP,&P) Railroad. The tunnel collapsed a number of times and was useful sporadically, last used in 1910.

At the same time in the 1800's, the Denver and Rio Grande railroad was quickly building a competing line up and over Marshall Pass, both trying to be first to the rich Gunnison Valley.

If you're interested in the history of this particular canyon, which played an important role in Colorado's history, you'll find quite a bit of information. This site http://www.st-elmo.com/townhistory.html has more old pictures and stories about St Elmo.

The end of this section is your first of three approaches to the Continental Divide. If you are at a finisher's pace, chances are you'll get to this summit in the dark.

Railroad picture taken near where the Cascade Hill is now

This route can be made into a great day ride by climbing to the Alpine Tunnel as the vapor route does, then riding north on the Continental Divide Trail over to the road up to Tincup Pass. Take the Tincup Pass Road back down to St Elmo for a nice triangle loop.

BeforeAfter
The now long-gone town of Romley
Romley "back in the day"

Romley, ridden through "just the other day" (06-15-2005)

Bathrooms are available at the turn up towards the Alpine Tunnel, and at various campgrounds on the way up.



A sample of the view you'll be checking out in the shaddowy darkness.

Old Mine Building doing slo-mo tumble onto the railroad grade
Old Mine Building doing slo-mo tumble onto the railroad grade

Hancock townsite Hancock Townsite

Looking toward Apline Tunnel, 2 and a quarter or so miles from the top, 06-15-05
Looking toward Apline Tunnel, 2 and a quarter or so miles from the top, 11,200 ft elev. 06-15-05


Some of the grade above the Hancock Site (taken mid-July, 2005)


The singletrack that takes you over the Alpine Tunnel and the Continental Divide

Go to the Next >> section.


Back to Vapor Trail 125 Home vapor trail logo