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Hiking & Walking: Colorado > Pike and San Isabel National Forests > Salida Ranger District

Quick Facts

Tunnel Lake Trail

Beginning Elevation: 11,100 Feet (3460.1 Meters) Tincup Pass Road Trailhead
Difficulty: More Difficult
Elevation Gain, One-way: 1,230 Feet (383.4 Meters)
High Point: 12,300 Feet (3834.2 Meters)
Length, One-way: 5 Miles (8.33 Kilometers) 8K
Other Maps: Trails Illustrated 130, San Isabel National Forest
Recommended Season: Summer
Trail Number: 1439
Usage: Light
USGS Map: 7.5 min - Cumberland Pass

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

Tunnel Lake Trail, 1439, leads south from Tincup Pass Road to the Alpine Tunnel Road near Williams Pass. The Trail is 5 miles long and leads through high-alpine areas with prolonged exposure. Users should avoid taking this trail if severe weather threatens. Some of the trail travels over alpine meadows and willow bogs where rock cairns are the only visible markers. The use of a compass and topographic map are encouraged for this route.

The Tincup Road Trailhead lies at an elevation of 11,050'. The trail climbs from this high elevation so most of the route is above tree line. (Hence the warning against traveling when severe weather threatens.) At about the 4 mile mark the trail hits its high point of 12,300'. At this high point a ridge will extend to the left (east) culminating in a summit of 12,570'. Immediately south of this ridge is Tunnel Lake, although the trail does not go directly to it. The southern terminus of the trail lies at 12,000'.

Directions from Nathrop: Southern Access: Drive 15 miles west on Chalk Creek Road (Coutny Road 162) to St. Elmo. Turn south on Hancock Road (County Road 295) and drive approximately 5.5 miles. Look for Forest Road 298 (recommended for 4WD only), which is the old railroad grade to the Alpine Tunnel. Travel 2.5 miles on this road and take the trail over the tunnel to reach the trailhead for 1439.

Directions from St. Elmo: Northern Access: From St. Elmo follow Tin Cup Pass Road (County Road 267) approximately 4 miles west to the trailhead on the southern side of the road.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Open: July through Mid-September .

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Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Backpacking Tunnel Lake Trail - section of Continental Divide Trail
ICON Hiking & Walking Tunnel Lake Trail
ICON Horseback Riding Tunnel Lake Trail
ICON Wildflower Identification Tunnel Lake Trail

Related Activities
Poplar Gulch Trail - The Poplar Gulch Trail leads north miles from St. Elmo to South Cottonwood Creek. It traverses 2 scenic valleys and over a high saddle for views of the Sawatch Mountain Range.

More Information

Visitor Information:

Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce, P.O. Box P, South US 24 , Buena Vista, CO, 81211, Phone: 719-395-6612


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