Hagerman Pass  
USGS 7.5' Map: Homestake Reservoir, Mount Massive, Nast
Difficulty: Number: Miles: Altitude: Obstacles: Time:
Easy 2 Cnty 4, Cnty 104, FR105 22.50 8,400 to 11,925 ft. NA 3-4 hours
County: Pitkin and Lake
Adopted by:      
Managed by: Pitkin County
Lake County
Pike/San Isabel National Forest, Leadville District
White River National Forest, Sopris District
501 Main St, Fairplay, CO 80440
505 Harrison Ave., Leadville, CO 80461
810 Front Street, Leadville, CO 80461
620 Main Street, Carbondale, CO 81623
(719) 836-2771
Summary: Hagerman Pass 4WD road partly follows the old Colorado Midland Railroad line crossing the Continental Divide. There are two abandoned tunnels that were part of the railroad line.
Attractions: Scenic views. Railroad history. Fall Colors
Agency - West side November 23 to May 20, East side May 16 to June 29
Best Time: June - Snow will still close the pass
July - Late in the month
August - Best
September - Best
October - Watch for early snowstorms
Trail Heads
Windsor Lake Trail, FT1490 - Hiking
Hagerman Tunnel Trail, FT1491 - Hiking
Lyle Creek Trail, FT1919 - Hiking
Camping: There are dispersed sites along the ridge between Glacier Creek and Busk Creek on the east side. The west side has campsites along County Rd 104 after you pass Hell Gate. Higher up there are a few spots on the north side of Ivanhoe Lake.
Base Camp: This would be a good area to base camp and explore the roads in the Roaring Fork valley as well as the roads and trails to the north toward Cripple Creek Pass.
Fall Colors: Great - There are aspen groves on both sides of the pass, with the larger groves below Ivanhoe Lake along the Roaring Fork River valley.
Navigation: From Leadville, CO. head south on Harrison Ave toward East 8th Street. Go 0.1 miles and take the 3rd right onto West 6th Street. Go 0.8 miles and turn right onto County Road 4/McWethy Drive. Continue to follow County Road 4 around Tourquoise Lake. After 7.0 miles turn left to stay on County Road 4/Hagerman Pass Road.

From Basalt, CO. head northeast on Midland Ave toward Basalt Center Circle. Go 0.2 miles and continue onto the Fryingpan Rd. Go 19.5 miles and continue onto County Road 4. Go 4.7 miles and continue onto County Rd 4/Frying Pan Rd. Go 3.8 miles passing the Chapman Campground entrance and continue on the Frying Pan Rd, which is the Hagerman Pass road.
History: Hagerman Pass is an 11,925 foot crossing of the Continental Divide. It was also known as Cooke Pass, Fryingpan Pass by the Hayden Survey Party in 1873, and Saguache Pass. It separates Busk Creek on the east from Ivanhoe Creek on the west.

In 1885 the Hagerman Tunnel was constructed as part of the Colorado Midland Railroad line (1887 to 1922) to connect Leadville with Aspen and Glenwood Springs. This 2,061 foot long tunnel sits at 11,528 feet altitude just south of Hagerman Pass.
Hagerman Tunnel, circa 1880s      photo by: W.H. Jackson  (the dark areas are snowsheds over the railroad line)

As part of the switchbacks to reach this altitude the Hagerman Trestle, the most elaborate and spectacular in Colorado, was constructed on the hairpin turn above Busk. The Hagerman Trestle was 1,084 feet long, 84 feet high, and 200 degrees in curvature.
Hagerman Trestle      

Hagerman Trestle      

Hagerman Trestle      

The Busk-Ivanhoe Tunnel was started in 1890 and opened in 1893. It was used by the railroad until 1897. In 1899 the snowfall was so heavy that the Hagerman Tunnel was shut down. In October of 1899 the Busk-Ivanhoe Tunnel was purchased by the railroad, which is 575 feet lower (10,953 feet) than the Hagerman Tunnel. The Busk-Ivanhoe Tunnel is almost two miles long, but it eliminated 13 snowsheds and, 12 bridges and trestles required to gain the 575 feet of altitude. After 1921 the Busk-Ivanhoe Tunnel was called the Carlton Tunnel and shortly thereafter abandonded as a train route to become an automobile route. Due to its one lane an alternating east to west then west to east use had to be used. In 1943 there was a cave in on the west end and the Colorado Highway Department closed the tunnel.
Map of Hagerman and Ivanhoe-Busk Tunnels      adapted from Haley, 1963

Hell Gate on the west side of Hagerman Pass      photo by: H.H. Buckwalter, circa 1900

The railroad station of Sellar had a post office and Inn for railroad employees and travelers. The station was in Sellar Park, a flat open meadow along the main line. The facilies here included a water tank, sand house, coal bin, and a wye for turning the locomotives. The large rotary snow plows were also stored here. At the end of the wye were brick charcoal ovens used to convert wood to charcoal for use in the Leadville smelters. At the west end of the park is where the wye leaves the main line. Today the area around Sellar Park is part of the Coke Oven State Wildlife Area.

Scott, Glenn R. Historic Trail Map of Leadville : USGS, 2004. Online.
Helmuth, Ed and Gloria. The Passes of Colorado Boulder, Colorado: Pruett, 1994. Print.
Jessen, Kenneth Ghost Towns Colorado Style, Volumn 2, 1st ed. Loveland, Colorado: J.V. Publications, 1999. Print.
On the east side of Hagerman Pass, from the intersection of County Rd 9 and County Rd 4 near Tourquoise Lake, you will continue up Busk Creek on County Rd 4. The road follows the old railroad grade. Near the head of the valley you will come to a sweeping turn where the town of Busk once was. This is also the old east entrance to the Busk-Ivanhoe Tunnel later renamed the Carlton Tunnel. There is a large parking area here for a trail head into Mount Massive Wilderness. This is also where County Rd 4 ends and Forest Service road FR105 starts.Above this parking area, and to the southwest is the valley that the huge Hagerman Trestle once spanned.

Continue on FR105 as you follow the old railroad grade. After about one mile you will come to another parking lot. This is the trail head for the trails that follow the old railroad grade to the footings for the Hagermand Trestle, to the old Hagerman Tunnel's east portal, and to Hagerman Lake. From here the road leaves the old railroad grade and becomes rougher and narrower. You will climb through three switchbacks to get to the top of a ridge between Busk Creek and Glacier Creek. You will pass one of the ski huts used for cross country skiing in the winter. After gaining timberline you will come to a saddle with a sheer drop off that gives you views toward Busk Creek. Just beyond this great view near some power lines that cross the divide is the sign for Hagerman Pass.
Hagerman Pass

photo by:
Adam M

Forest Service road FR105 continues from here but you are now on the Sopris Ranger District of the White River National Forest instead of the Leadville Ranger District of the San Isabel National Forest. The road will follow the overhead power lines down to County Rd 104 near Ivanhoe Creek. Before this junction you will have to do two switchbacks and cross an irrigation ditch. Once on County Rd 104 you are back on the old railroad grade.

Head west on County Rd 104 following the railroad grade. After about 1-3/4 miles the valley will drop away and the road will be cut into a ledge rising above the creek below. This is the famed "Hell Gate" section of the line. The road will continue along the ledge face on the side of Sellar Peak for about a half mile before going back into the trees.

The road will slowly descend through the trees passing a small park (open area) before looping around the north side of Sellar Park. At the west end of the park there is a right turn that takes you to Diemer Lake and Sellar Lake which is below Sellar Peak. Continuing on the railroad grade you will pass an old sideing at the end of Sellar Park. The road will loop back to the east and descend toward Ivanhoe Creek, almost ending up below Hell Gate, before switching back and heading west again. The road will follow the Roaring Fork River and pass the Forest Service Chapman Campground, the town of Norrie and loop around the north side of Ruedi Reservoir before reaching Basalt, CO.
Data updated - March 13, 2019     4WD Road driven - September 1, 2012     Copyright 4X4Explore.com - 2000-2019