Manitou Springs

Midland Railroad Tunnels - Manitou Springs, Colorado

An Enjoyable Manitou Springs Hike On a Historic Railroad Grade


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Manitou Springs, CO

Midland Railroad Grade
In the early 20th Century, when trains were a dominant mode of transportation, the Midland Railroad traveled through Manitou Springs en route to Green Mountain Falls, Woodland Park and points west. While the trains stopped running many years ago, the old railroad grade and numerous tunnels remain. On this page are my photos from my July 2005 hike. Although there is no trail, one can easily walk on the abandoned railroad tracks.

Directions: If you're traveling east on U.S. Highway 24 and approaching Manitou Springs, turn at the westernmost exit. On the deceleration lane, park on the right as seen in the top photo. If there are "no parking" signs, park where you can and hike on the road.

The second photo shows the gully that has a "social trail" and ...

... as you can hike up, you'll notice the layered infill on the side of the railroad bed. Hike to it and you're on the historic Midland Railroad grade.

Midland Railroad Tunnel
Midland Railroad Tunnel
Midland Railroad Tunnel
Once on the railroad bed, you will see a long tunnel (perhaps 0.3 miles) directly to your right. I highly suggest carrying a flashlight for walking through this tunnel. It's a little spooky in an adventurous kind of way.

The middle photo was taken looking back at the east entrance near the halfway point.

Bottom photo: Coming out, there's a brief opening with another tunnel after it.

Railroad Tunnel Facing back at the short second tunnel.
Highway 24 Then the scenery opens with mountains and U.S. Highway 24. The next time you're driving west of Manitou Springs on the highway, you should recognize some of these tunnels on the south side of the road.
Midland Railroad Trail Approaching the third tunnel.
Manitou Springs, CO Another view of U.S. Highway 24 on the west side of Manitou Springs.
Midland Railroad Tunnels This is a glorious trail! Walking through and exploring these tunnels stirred my soul. If a trail is ever created that travels up Ute Pass, this railroad grade has got to be part of it. The scenery, the sense of history and the uniqueness of the tunnels were entertaining!
Railroad Tunnel Hiking into the fourth tunnel.
Railroad Grade Pretty shot.

I also have photos of Midland railroad ruins in Buena Vista:
  • Hop Gulch RR Trestle Site
  • BV Midland Tunnels
  • Highway 24 Another good view of U.S. Highway 24. Yes, there is much highway noise, but I think part of this trail's charm is that before the advent of the automobile, a loud, noisy locomotive traveled on this very grade. It's all relative! :)
    Manitou Tunnel Midland Railroad Tunnel The fifth and final tunnel.
    Highway 24 As I hiked west beyond the fifth tunnel, the adjacent photo was my view. Sadly, the grade ends at the left arrow. The road designers probably blasted part of the hill to make room for the highway. As the grade ends, there is a dirt trail that leads down to the road. Thus, you could start your hike on this end.
    Highway 24 A photo of the fifth tunnel and mountain scenery from where the grade ends.Truly, it was one of those hikes where I was so sad to reach the end. What a memorable hike!

    I returned to Manitou Springs by walking on the shoulder of the highway.

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