Sunday, May 3, 2015

Tunnel Drive Trail

When you have worn out your shoes, the strength of the shoe leather has passed into the fiber of your body. I measure your health by the number of shoes and hats and clothes you have worn out. 
--Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American writer and philosopher.
On the west side of Cañon City is a two-mile 'out and back' trail that parallels the Arkansas River far below, taking visitors into Royal Gorge (but not all the way to the Royal Gorge Bridge). There are hopes and initial plans to link the Tunnel Drive Trail with the recently completed trail at Royal Gorge Park. But even without that extension, the Tunnel Trail is a great way to experience the rugged beauty gorge, to see the river and perhaps catch a glimpse of the Royal Gorge Train.

The trail itself is level, except for the initial switchback from the parking area. You immediately come to three tunnels carved through the granite mountainside. The first two are short, but the third one is very impressive. It's not so long that you need to take a flashlight, but it provides welcome shade and a cool breeze on a hot, sunny day.  Besides the tunnels, you won't find much shade along the way, so this trail is best taken in the morning before the heat of the day sets in. Be sure to take water for your pup. :) After the tunnels, as you continue your walk, you'll eventually cross two wooden bridges before finally reaching the terminus at the two mile mark. [click on photos to enlarge]

Click here for a map of the trail. Another map here.
Click here for a very nice pdf of the trails found in the Cañon City area. It's a bit old, but gives a nice overview of the area. For more up-to-date trail information, check out the JoinFAR website and their Adventure Guide.

Directions: Travel all the way west through Cañon City on Highway 50, just after the major bend in the road (where it turns north) take the first left onto Tunnel Drive. Drive 0.7 miles to the trailhead parking area at the end of the road.

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