MTB Project Logo

Historic high alpine riding.

Your Rating: Rating Rating Rating Rating Rating      Clear Rating
Your Difficulty:
Your Favorites: Add To-Do · Your List
Zoom in to see details
Map Key







12,295' 3,747 m


9,980' 3,042 m


2,427' 740 m


2,443' 745 m



Avg Grade (3°)


Max Grade (11°)

Dogs Off-leash

E-Bikes Not Allowed

Features Views


This ride has it all: a historic ghost town, railroad history, primitive high alpine singletrack, and a fantastic descent.

The traffic on this trail is surprisingly low given the uniqueness of the singletrack and history surrounding the area. Go during the fall to get a special experience of fall color in the aspens and alpine tundra.

Need to Know

Since much of this trail traverse high alpine tundra at 12k feet, it usually won't be snow free until sometime in June or even July. Consequently it will also be under snow much earlier than most rides as well.


This ride starts in the historic ghost town of St. Elmo. Ride Southeast on Forest Service Road 295. This is the old historic Denver/South Park railroad grade. Since it's a railroad grade, the climb is gradual and easy. After around 6 miles, you'll pass by the old townsite of Hancock. Look for a bridge and cross it.

From here, look for the Alpine Tunnel trail sign. You'll now be on the Tunnel Lake Trail singletrack. Ride west for about 2 miles, then look for a trail sign for the Continental Divide Trail to your left and take this trail. The next 1/2 mile climbs steeply up to the saddle, where you'll come to another signed trail junction. Take a right to stay on the CDT.

If you feel like you have the energy and time, you can stay straight on this trail (Alpine Tunnel Connector) which will drop down around 400ft and 3/4 mile off the saddle down to the west portal of the Alpine Tunnel. This short out and back is well worth the effort as there is an old restored rail station with multiple photographs and artifacts available to view inside. It also makes for a nice lunch spot and a shelter from the wind.

While on the CDT, enjoy the primitive singletrack and amazing views all around. The first 1.5 miles climbs up to a saddle steeply at times. Soak in the view of Tunnel Lake to your right and enjoy this unique piece of singletrack that can be overgrown and grassy at times. Once the climb up the saddle is finished, you'll have a fairly technical, fun, and rocky descent. After the quick descent is done, you'll have one more fairly short and quick climb before the trail flattens and rolls along the alpine tundra.

The next part of the trail is the reward. The descent starts out with a few drainage step downs and above tree line rolling tundra. After a short while, you'll enter the trees, and the trail will become very smooth, flowy, and fast. Be careful with speed here as the switchbacks come up quicklyand the turns are sometimes sharp. Near the end you'll cross a wooden bridge over a stream and eventually end up at a dirt road (FS 267/Tin Cup Pass). Take a right here and follow it back to St. Elmo and your car. Tin Cup Pass is a popular area for 4x4s, so stay alert on the rocky descent.

History & Background


Shared By:

Adam Kagy with improvements by Jeff Welch and 1 other

Trail Ratings

  4.1 from 43 votes


in St. Elmo


  4.1 from 43 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star
Recommended Route Rankings


in St. Elmo


in Colorado


17 Views Last Month
18,815 Since Sep 19, 2014
Difficult Difficult



Buff and scenic. The Alpine Tunnel Trail is great.
Jul 16, 2018 near St. Elmo, CO
Fall time at Tunnel Lake.
Sep 19, 2015 near Buena V…, CO
Reaching the saddle
Sep 19, 2014 near Buena V…, CO
Fall time at Tunnel Lake
Sep 19, 2015 near Buena V…, CO
High above- on the CDT Alpine Tunnel trail
Sep 19, 2014 near Buena V…, CO
Quick 100yrd hike a bike from the CDT and Alpine Tunnel junction
Sep 19, 2014 near Buena V…, CO


Current Trail Conditions

Add Your Check-In


Sep 2, 2023
Kaile Vierstra
This trail is worth it for the views (spectacular) but the trail itself is just okay. Mostly a hiking trail with some fun descents. GF trail.
Oct 10, 2022
mel eg
Aug 29, 2021
Geoff Guthrie
Spectacular scenery, sweet old school alpine singletrack, and smooth flowy descent to Tincup Pass Rd. Wonderful mountain bike loop in Colorado! 18.2mi — 3h 01m
Jul 25, 2021
Abe Proffitt
35.9mi — 7h 15m
Jul 9, 2021
Kendall Beggs
80% of the climb is fun, the test hike-a-bike. The descent starts off rocky but ends up pretty fun. The last descent on the road is incredibly bumpy. — 2h 30m
Aug 22, 2020
Scott F
Aug 14, 2020
Dave Smith
hope you like hike a bike! I would do this again, minus the CDT. the Alpine Tunnel Trail is awesome.
Aug 8, 2019
Don Mattsen

Join the Community

Create your FREE account today!
Already have an account? Login to close this notice.

Get Started