Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sunday Tunnel Lake Trail Run

Sunday was a more relaxing day, and after a leisurely start, I ran a trail I would never have thought of on my own: Tunnel Lakes west of Mount Princeton.

I had stepped into Salida Bike Company that morning to check out bike shorts, but found none that fit. I ended up speaking to owner Anton about some trails on the mind-bogglingly dense Salida Latitude 40 trail map, and he pointed out a few, both for running and riding. Very helpful and friendly. Props to the LBS.

The trail is southwest of the St. Elmo ghost town west of Mount Princeton, and follows an old narrow-gauge railroad path. There is ATV access nearby, but the non-motorized trail soon leaves the noise and exhaust behind (I left some such comment in the register). The trail is somewhat exposed, but pretty nice and easy to run.



Skidmarks about every couple hundred feet on the (uber-flat) trail. Dudes, learn to ride, will ya? I don't ride or ski like that, it means you're out of control, and it ruins the trail.



Pikas must have the loudest voice by body weight of any rodent. Cute, too:




It was about 3 miles to the east tunnel portal, which was caved in. hard to believe a train fit through that, since it wasn't huge.


There is a trail that continues on singletrack into the woods, but I was interested in getting up high for a better vantage point, so I climbed up towards Tunnel Lake and the ridge line, where the Continental Divide Trail was.



The trail weaves briefly through the woods, then it's all open tundra. From here on out, it was singletrack above treeline.




Tunnel Lake is below. There was no obvious trail to the lake, and it was surrounded by marshy areas and willows, so I just got close enough for a photo and then turned back.


The lake was nice, but honestly, the real attraction was the fun dirt trail, high alpine terrain, flowers, a few streams and the views.



Aside from the railroad, there are scattered mine ruins along these roads too, and many people seem to have driven up the rough roads just to check them out.



Distance was 8.86 miles, time 2:40 (moving 1:55), elevation gain/loss 1,269 feet, avg. pace 18:05 (moving 13:01), and best pace 9:00.

An interesting change of pace off the beaten path (mine, at least).

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