Published with permission from the guide book: The Local’s Adventure Guide to Singletrack & Tarmac – Mountain Bike Trails and Road Rides in the Upper Arkansas River Valley by Nathan Ward.
The Hagerman Tunnel Loop climbs high above tree line to a historic railroad tunnel. As you climb the old railroad grade, enjoy impressive views, especially up high as the trail enters a dramatic canyon with brilliant green alpine lakes. The route visits the ghost town of Douglass City and railroad remnants lie scattered among the rocks. Hagerman Tunnel feels incredibly impressive as it’s one of the few original railroad tunnels not totally caved in. The mouth of the tunnel feels cold and dark with about 3 feet of ice inside. This may be the best ride in the Leadville area.
Trailhead Access: Drive 3.5 miles south of Leadville on US 24 and turn right (west) on Colorado Highway 300. Cross the railroad tracks and drive 0.5 mile. Turn right (north) on CR 5 immediately after the bridge over the Arkansas River. Continue 1.9 miles and turn left on the far paved road at a strange 3-way intersection – look for the sign pointing to Turquoise Lake. After 0.9 mile cross the Sugarloaf Dam and continue around Turquoise Lake. The road splits after 3.5 miles. Turn left onto the gravel Hagerman Pass road. Drive 50 yards and park in the wide spot on the right side of the road. Start riding.
Location: Hagerman Pass, west of Leadville
Distance: 15.4 mile – loop
Riding Time: 2 to 3 hours
Riding Surface in Miles: Dirt Road 9.4, Singletrack 6
Aerobic Level: Strenuous – altitude
Technical Difficulty: Intermediate – extremely rocky
Elevation in Feet: Low Point 10,239; High Point 11,572; Climbs/Descends 1,452
Land Status: USFS
Maps: Homestake Reservoir, Mount Massive
Note: It would be dangerous to explore inside the tunnel and it’s not recommended. Finish the trail before the afternoon thunderstorms begin.
Options: For a longer ride, continue past the Colorado Midland Centennial Trail and ride to the top of Hagerman Pass. Have a look around, then ride down to complete the loop.
0.0 Ride up the railroad grade, FSR 105.
1.8 Stay on the main road, FSR 105.
3.6 Trail 1485 cuts left. Stay on the railroad grade, FSR 105.
3.7 Continue right on the Hagerman Pass road, FSR 105.
4.7 Turn left on the Colorado Midland Centennial Trail. Look for the huge signboard telling the captivating history of the railway. The trail looks like a rocky wet streambed. Ride up it and sign the trail register.
4.9 The rocky trail changes to smooth doubletrack.
6.1 Turn sharply right and switchback up the hill. Before turning, stop and walk to the end of the railbed to see the gap once spanned by a curved wooden trestle 1,084 feet long. There is nothing now but air and trees here.
6.4 Follow the singletrack straight across the railroad bed.
6.5 Enter the old town of Douglass City. There are several collapsed log cabins and a sign tall-telling the history. As it says “The wild city was the scene of drinking, shooting, fighting, knifing and others innocent pleasures.” The Douglass City scenery is stunning. The next section of trail is extremely rocky.
6.9 High alpine lakes and railroad remnants.
7.0 As you pass the lakes, look for a big brick oven on your left. Ride straight ahead over rocks and up a very steep singletrack. Push. When you reach the railway bed, turn left and ride to the tunnel.
7.2 The East Portal of the Hagerman Tunnel at an elevation of 11,530 feet. Completed in 1887, this was the highest railroad tunnel in the world. The tunnel is 2,161feet long, 16 feet high and 18 feet wide. The railroad company replaced it with the more accessible Carlton Tunnel closer to Leadville. Ride your bike to the mouth of the tunnel. Does it feel like there are ghosts inside?
7.3 Pedal back down the railroad bed and pass the singletrack trail you rode up.
8.0 Turn right on a singletrack uphill just past a beautiful green lake.
8.2 Return to the railroad grade and follow the obvious trail right.
9.0 Turn left when you intersect the singletrack. This is the trail you ascended, and the end of the short loop. Follow the trail down.
10.7 Turn right on Hagerman Pass, FSR 105, and spin downhill to the car.
15.4 End of the ride!
The Colorado backcountry is popular – bikers, hikers, motorcycle riders, hunters and equestrians use the trail system in the Arkansas Valley, and everyone wants a private piece of heaven. Even if you don’t agree with everyone’s motives or methods of travel, please treat them in a courteous manner.
If you require search and rescue services, it can be costly. Buy a Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue (CORSAR) card to protect yourself. Funds from the CORSAR program go into the Colorado Search and Rescue (SAR) Fund. If a CORSAR card holder becomes lost or injured in the backcountry, the Colorado SAR Fund pays eligible search and rescue expenses.
Bicycle riding is a physically strenuous activity with many risks and dangers. Hazards, natural or man made, whether noted in this book or not, can be encountered at any time under any situation. As a cyclist, we assume you know your personal abilities and limitations. This book represents nothing more than a guide to the trails and roads and is not meant to replace your common sense, your ability to navigate in the wilderness or in traffic, or your ability to ride a bicycle safely.
In addition, the mileages and routes listed in this text are only suggestions. There may be variances and you may get lost. We recommend everyone uses a GPS and topographical map to navigate. Most routes in this text are located on public land, but some trails pass through or adjacent to private land. Respect the land owner’s rights and obey all signs regarding trail use. The same goes for wilderness areas which prohibit mountain bike riding. Neither the author, nor the publisher, nor anyone else mentioned in this book are responsible or liable in any way for any accident, injury or any action brought against anyone traveling any route listed in this book. All cyclists and their companions assume responsibility for themselves. Ride at your own risk.
© 2023 Chaffee County Visitors Bureau | All Rights Reserved