Hancock Pass

Climb over 12,140-foot Hancock Pass en route to Pitkin.

Total Miles
16.8

Elevation

3702.66 ft

Duration

3 to 4 Hours

Technical Rating

5

Difficult

Best Time

Summer/Fall

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Trail Overview

This trail connects St. Elmo to Pitkin by way of 12,140-foot Hancock Pass. After taking in the views, descend to Brittle Silver Basin and on through to Pitkin and a long drive back to Highway 50. As an alternative you can climb up the 12,015-foot Cumberland Pass to Tincup and take Tincup Pass back to St. Elmo. This trail may close unexpectedly for snow.

Difficulty

Difficult. Most of the trail is easy wide road. At the pass, very rocky and slow-going, but okay for aggressive stock SUVs with low range and skid plates. Do not attempt if snow is present.

History

Hancock Road and the Alpine Tunnel Road were built along the original railroad grade that passed through the Alpine Tunnel in the 1880s. Several railroad structures still remain. Forest Road 839 was damaged at the Palisades by an avalanche in February 2016, and the road remains closed. It was hoped that Williams Pass Road would open as a way to reach tunnel, but so far, it's not.

Technical Rating

5

Access Description

From Johnson Village, head south on Highway 285 about 6 miles. Just past Nathrop, turn right on County Road 162. Go west 15.4 miles to parking/staging area (with toilet) on left. Immediately after parking area, bear left on County Road 295.