Vapor Trail 125 - Chalk Creek to Alpine Tunnel
|Miles||16.95 (mile 27.1 through mile 44.5)|
|Character||Long, steady climb|
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.
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.
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
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
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