Manitou Railroad Grade

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2.3 miles
Double Track out-and-back
Vertical Gain:
200 ft

Topographical Map:

Elevation Profile:

Reaching the trailhead for this hike is the hardest part. You must be on the East bound side of Highway 24 as it passes through Ute Canyon. If coming from Colorado Springs, travel West on Highway 24 to the Waldo Canyon turnaround where you can get on the East bound side and head back to the trailhead. This trailhead is unlabled and rarely used. It is a large pull out area on the left side of the highway just before the creek crosses from the left side of the road to the right side. If you miss it there is another turn around just after the parking area as well. Don't be suprised if it takes you a couple of trys to find the right one.

Once parked, you must cross the East bound lanes on foot to get to the South side of the road. Once across head east along the road until you pass the beginning of the guard rail. You will see a narrow trail that you can follow up to the railroad grade. This part can be loose and slippery so choose your route carefully. Once on the railroad bed follow it east and explore the 6 tunnels along the way. The sixth tunnel is blocked halfway as it becomes private property beyond that point. Bring a very strong flashlight for this hike. Two of the tunnels are very long and curved. The walls are still covered with coal soot so a small light beam will just dissappear into them. These tunnels have been around a long time, but a cave-in is always a possibility so consider yourself warned.

Railroad construction camp
A railroad construction camp during the construction of the Ute Pass line.

Digging the tunnels
Methods of digging the tunnels were very manual, it's amazing the amount of work that was poured into creating the railroads.
tunnel entrance
Several of the openings to these tunnels have evidence of rock slide, so keep your eyes open.
halfway in the long tunnel
Even with the flash on delay, the light doesn't penatrate far in these tunnels.

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