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Show us your Rail Trails, Hiking Trails, Cycling Paths, etc.

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Show us your Rail Trails, Hiking Trails, Cycling Paths, etc.

Old 12-13-19, 11:02 AM
  #76  
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Colorado doesn’t have many “railtrails” but we have a lot of trails that used to be rails. There’s even a book on the subject that I have used for the better part of 40 years to plan rides here. I’ve mountain biked them a lot but in the last few years I’ve been using them for bikepacking trips. I did this one about 3 years ago but lost my camera along the route and have no pictures of it. Shame because it’s a great ride!

I did a loop last year that used Gold Camp Road (Colorado Springs & Cripple Creek District Railway), Phantom Canyon (Florence and Cripple Creek Railroad) and Shelf Road (Cripple Creek Stage Road). Gold Camp and Phantom Canyon are open to cars (mostly) but they are still railroad beds. And both are spectacular.

Gold Camp has 7 tunnels along it’s length (about 40 miles). Tunnel 3, aka Helen Hunt Tunnel because it goes under Helen Hunt Falls, is collapsed and closed but a trail around the tunnel has been put in place for bikes and pedestrians. That results in about 5 miles of car free travel.

DSCN1088 by Stuart Black, on Flickr

The railroad clings to the steep Colorado Springs mountains

DSCN1104 by Stuart Black, on Flickr

Cathedral Park Spires

DSCN1107 by Stuart Black, on Flickr

Outside of Cripple Creek, Phantom Canyon Road steeply descends to CaŮon City. The railroad operated from the 1880s to 1912 when it was closed in a single night during a flash flood that ripped out 15 or 17 bridges.

DSCN1138 by Stuart Black, on Flickr

DSCN1154 by Stuart Black, on Flickr

The only bridge to survive the flash flood

DSCN1158 by Stuart Black, on Flickr

The canyon narrows to almost a slot in places

DSCN1163 by Stuart Black, on Flickr


The return route to Cripple Creek is via Shelf Road which is a stage road which is much steeper and rougher with 18% grades in places


DSCN1234 by Stuart Black, on Flickr

Window Rock

DSCN1239 by Stuart Black, on Flickr
DSCN1245 by Stuart Black, on Flickr

The return to Colorado Springs is a fantastic 25 mph average 40 mile downhill.
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Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
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Old 12-13-19, 11:53 AM
  #77  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Tunnel 3, aka Helen Hunt Tunnel because it goes under Helen Hunt Falls, is collapsed and closed but a trail around the tunnel has been put in place for bikes and pedestrians.
Interesting. That happened to one of the many tunnels of the Route of Hiawatha Trail. It was under a fault which eventually caused it to collapse after the railroad was abandoned in 1980. They had to construct a bypass to complete the trail.
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Old 12-13-19, 12:01 PM
  #78  
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Images from my September trip up and back on the GAP.





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Old 12-13-19, 01:36 PM
  #79  
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Love all the pics!
Still too new to post my own.
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Old 12-13-19, 02:16 PM
  #80  
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Originally Posted by Cycling879 View Post
Love all the pics!
Still too new to post my own.
what color is your bike?
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Old 12-13-19, 02:24 PM
  #81  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Colorado doesnít have many ďrailtrailsĒ but we have a lot of trails that used to be rails. Thereís even a book on the subject that I have used for the better part of 40 years to plan rides here. Iíve mountain biked them a lot but in the last few years Iíve been using them for bikepacking trips
that sounds fantastic
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Old 12-13-19, 02:39 PM
  #82  
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Interesting. That happened to one of the many tunnels of the Route of Hiawatha Trail. It was under a fault which eventually caused it to collapse after the railroad was abandoned in 1980. They had to construct a bypass to complete the trail.
Itís a fairly common event in Colorado. There are 9 tunnels on Gold Camp Road. 3 of them have collapsed. Itís partly the geology and partly climate. On Gold Camp Road, the tunnels are built through Pikes Peak granite which is not that hard. It decomposes rapidly when exposed to air and results in a rather slippery marble (round, not the mineral) like consistency. Coloradoís other tunnels tend to have been built throughout the Mineral Belt which is a a large oval area from just west of Denver to Durango that is about 150 miles wide. The Mineral Belt has a lot of minerals in it that are reactive with air and become corrosive. It plays hell on the rock and materials used for shoring.

Climate also plays a large role as well. The high mountains go through a yearly large temperature fluctuations from warm enough to melt water during the day and freeze water at night. As the water freezes, it expands and splits rocks. ďFrost heavingĒ is something that happens often and can cause massive movement of rock. We just had a frost heave event that brought down tons of material onto I70 and closed it for two days on Thanksgiving weekend. Tunnels take a beating at their entrances. I suspect that occurred in Idaho as well.

We have several tunnels here that are very long...the Alpine Tunnel is 1.5 miles long at 11,000 feet and was the highest tunnel in the work for a long time...but the entrances are generally collapsed because of the altitude.
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Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
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Old 12-13-19, 02:40 PM
  #83  
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
that sounds fantastic
Iíll post more of them in the near future.
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Gold Fever Three days of dirt in Colorado
Pokin' around the Poconos A cold ride around Lake Erie
Dinosaurs in Colorado A mountain bike guide to the Purgatory Canyon dinosaur trackway
Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
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Old 12-13-19, 04:31 PM
  #84  
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
what color is your bike?
One is red.
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Old 12-13-19, 04:32 PM
  #85  
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
what color is your bike?
The other one is orange.
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Old 12-13-19, 04:48 PM
  #86  
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Originally Posted by Cycling879 View Post
The other one is orange.
Only two?
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Old 12-13-19, 08:27 PM
  #87  
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More Colorado trails that were rails:

Rollins Pass. I have a long history with Rollins Pass. I’ve been over it in a car a few times since 1974. I even did it in a company truck loaded with plumbing supplies with my girlfriend (now wife of many years). I’d probably have been fired if the bosses ever knew. My bicycle adventures with Rollins Pass started around 1984 when I got my first mountain bike.

Rollins Pass was originally built to provide service from Denver to Salt Lake City (never got there). It’s one of the highest...if not the highest railroad passes... in the US. It goes up to 11600 feet. Although it was an “all weather road”, it was a very difficult all weather road with some trains being stuck on the top for weeks due to storms. Eventually, the 30 miles of nightmarish railroad was replaced by a 6 mile tunnel. The road was closed in the early 1900s and the trackway converted to a road in the 1930s.

The trip from the east portal of the Moffat Tunnel to the west portal is just about the distance of a metric century and that’s what I used to do for my local touring club. I would start at the east portal and ride up and over and back in a single day. I had a series of rides to work up to a dirt century.

Weather on the pass is always iffy and snow fields up until August aren’t unheard of. I even did my first off-road tour over Rollins Pass in 1985.

me old by Stuart Black, on Flickr

Just to be clear about our “trails that were once rails” here in Colorado: These aren’t the smooth crusher fine railtrials I’ve ridden elsewhere. Often these are serious mountain bike rides with not a small amount of hike-a-bike due to various problems. In 1985, I was able to ride through Needles Eye Tunnel about 2 miles from the top of the pass

img340 by Stuart Black, on Flickr

But it has become unstable and necessitates a rather steep and difficult portage over the tunnel now.

One of the most frightening of features on the trail are the Twin Trestles at Devil’s Slide. Lots of railroads clung to the sides of mountains in Colorado but few cling as tightly nor as has as the Devil’s Slide Trestles

DSCN0518 by Stuart Black, on Flickr
DSCN0512 by Stuart Black, on Flickr
DSCN0522 by Stuart Black, on Flickr

They are rickety...you aren’t supposed to even walk on them...and there is a whole lot of air between the trestle and South Boulder Creek...about 1000 feet of it. I’ve had the opportunity to be on the other side of the “valley” recently and you get a whole lot different perspective of how far off the ground those bridges are. I was about 800 feet above the valley floor and about a mile away from the trestles

Untitled by Stuart Black, on Flickr

On the other hand, the views from the other side are some of the best in Colorado.

IMG_3228 by Stuart Black, on Flickr

From the top of the pass,

Rollins Pass, 8/10/85 by Stuart Black, on Flickr

it a long swoopy downhill into the Winter Park. Once past Rifle Sight trestle I seldom take pictures because I seldom slow much below 25 to 30 mph

IMG_3173 by Stuart Black, on Flickr

Rifle Sight is one of the few existing examples of how trains could climb steep and narrow terrain. It's a 2 mile loop where the train goes through a tunnel, climbs on a long curve and then passes over the tunnel on a trestle.

One note: Above Devils Slide is an archeological wonder. About 10,000 years ago, native people started building game runs. The runs are nothing more than short walls (about knee high) that stretch for about a mile. There are more than one and they converge to hunter blinds. They were used up until the Utes were cleared out and even then the animal follow the walls.

IMG_3205 by Stuart Black, on Flickr
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Gold Fever Three days of dirt in Colorado
Pokin' around the Poconos A cold ride around Lake Erie
Dinosaurs in Colorado A mountain bike guide to the Purgatory Canyon dinosaur trackway
Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.

Last edited by cyccommute; 12-16-19 at 08:19 AM.
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Old 12-13-19, 09:09 PM
  #88  
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Only two?
Yep, right now.
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Old 12-14-19, 03:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Cycling879 View Post
The other one is orange.
congrats ypu reached 10 now you can post a photo!
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Old 12-15-19, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
congrats ypu reached 10 now you can post a photo!
Yep, thanks.
Now, I'll have to pick out some to put up.
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