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Buena Vista, Colorado, United States

Hancock Pass/ Alpine Tunnel 4x4 Road

Fun, challenging SUV trip with lots of history

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Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 14.2 miles / 23 km
Duration: Half day
Family Friendly • Dog Friendly
Overview: Pass through historic site of Hancock on way to 12,140-ft. Hancock Pass. See restored train depot at Alpine Tunnel. Take short side trip to near ghost town of St. Elmo. Enjoy more difficult side trip to Hancock Lake. Unlicensed vehicles allowed after parking area on County Road 295. Located in Gunnison and San Isabel National Forest. For current conditions call Salida Ranger District (719) 539-3591.


Moderate. Very rocky and slow-going, but okay for aggressive stock SUVs. Skid plates are helpful. The drive should not be attempted if snow is on the trail. F.S. 839 to Alpine Tunnel is a high shelf road, but easy.

This trail is one of 100 trails from the book Guide to Colorado Backroads & 4WD Trails by FunTreks Publishing, available at

Tips: Snow can linger at pass well into July. High alpine environment; carry adequate supplies and warm clothing even on a hot day. Weather can change quickly.

Trail conditions can change without notice. FunTreks, Inc. and its owner and employees are not responsible for injury, death, or vehicle damage as a result of using this guide. The content of this guide is the property of FunTreks, Inc. and is made available to the user pursuant to EveryTrail’s Terms of Service (

Points of Interest


Start Here

Just a short distance past a parking area with modern vault toilet the road forks. The town of St. Elmo is downhill to the right. Left is County 295 to Hancock Pass.

Grizzly Lake Trail on left

Continue straight for Hancock Pass. Small road to left goes past by private property to difficult Grizzly Lake Trail (Described in FunTreks Guide to Colorado Backroads & 4-Wheel-Drive Trails, 3rd edition).

Iron Chest Trail

Continue straight for Hancock Pass. Small parking area on left is for difficult Iron Chest Trail (Described in FunTreks Guide to Colorado Backroads & 4-Wheel-Drive Trails, 3rd edition).

Pomeroy Lakes Trail

Continue straight for Hancock Pass. Road on left is Pomeroy Lakes Trail (Described in FunTreks Guide to Colorado Backroads & 4-Wheel-Drive Trails, 3rd edition).

Parking for Williams Pass Trail

After going past Allie Belle Mine Building hanging over the road, you see signs for Hancock Townsite on the left. Just after that, on the right is a parking area and a road to the north end of the Alpine Tunnel (closed). During the month of August only, the road is open to Williams Pass, a difficult 4x4 Road. To reach Hancock Pass, stay left on Forest Road 295.2.

Important Fork

Straight here continues south to Hancock Lake. This is a fun deadend road. To reach Hancock Pass, turn sharp right uphill on Forest Road 299. Road soon becomes very rocky and slows progress considerably.

Hancock Lake Parking Area

You must stop here and hike short distance to see Hancock Lake. Return to Point #6 to reach Hancock Pass.

Steep, Rocky Climb

Road turns right and begins to climb a rocky shelf road to pass.

Hancock Pass

You reach Hancock Pass at 12,140 ft. and begin steeper descent down the south side. You can see Tomichi Pass Road going up the other side of the valley.

Turn for Tomichi Pass

Join Forest Road 888. Continue west to reach Alpine Tunnel. Hard left goes to Tomichi Pass, a fun, very narrow shelf road (Described in FunTreks Guide to Colorado Backroads & 4-Wheel-Drive Trails, 3rd Edition).

Forest Road 839

You drop downhill to wider, easier Forest Road 839. Turn right, slightly uphill to reach Alpine Tunnel. Left downhill goes to town of Pitkin (with gas) and also takes you over Cumberland Pass to town of Tincup.

Road Ends

Road ends at gate at picnic area and toilet. Hike short distance north to restored train depot. You can continue north a little farther to collapsed Alpine Tunnel. Signs provide history of the tunnel. Return the way you came or follow 839 downhill. From there you can head north over Cumberland Pass to town of Tincup and return via Tincup Pass Road to St. Elmo, near where you started.
Pictures in this guide taken by: FunTreks, FunTreks, Inc.

Copyright 2011 FunTreks, Inc

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