Sunday, June 29, 2008

Oil Creek Tunnel

Today’s hike was pretty cool. I got a chance to check out the Oil Creek Tunnel. It was started in the 1890’s to build a route through Pikes Peak in order to be able to get back and forth to Cripple Creek. The best article that I have found to give you some history about the tunnel is: .

I left the house at 6:20am to be able to be one of the first on the Pikes Peak Toll Way. I arrived at the toll gate, at about 6:40 and was already about the 6th car in line. One of the reasons why I don’t spend more time on the Peak is the number of people and that you can’t get into the park until 7am, which is a little late for me.

The toll charge is normally $10 per person. A little secret let them know your going fishing. You will save your self a few bucks. I passed the toll gate and headed up to the Elk Park Overlook. It’s about 14/miles from the Toll Gate. When I reached the Glen Cove gift shop area, they had the road blocked off. Turns out that were letting race cars use the upper portion for tire testing. Race cars, you ask, well the Pikes Peak Hill Climb is coming up towards the middle of July.

I was the only car up their as no one else had driven up this far yet. I parked and got out and talked with the Ranger. Told him I wanted to get to the Elk Grove Overlook. It was only about another mile up the road. He let me through and said if I went any further they would kick me off the mountain.

Got to the parking lot, loaded up and headed off down the trail. It was windy and cold this morning, glad that I had dressed appropriately. It’s a relative short hike, 5/miles round trip. You start above tree line for this hike. Catch the Elk Park Trail (aka Trail #652). It is a gradual decent and then gets much steeper in sections. So at least with this hike you start it going down with all the work, being on you way back up.

When you catch the Oil Creek Tunnel Trail (aka #652a), you may have the chance to run into some snow still hanging around from winter. Follow the trail the best you can, it’s not very well defined in sections.

I wish today I would have had a buddy with me. The tunnel is 1800ft deep into the mountain. I probably was only in about 250/ft. I had a headlamp on my head and another attached to my breast strap on my backpack. Coming out of the tunnel is running water, actually a pretty decent stream. At least with another adventure seeker I may have made it all the way to the end.

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