Hagerman Tunnel  
USGS 7.5' Map: Nast, Homestake Reservoir
Difficulty: Number: Miles: Altitude: Obstacles: Time:
Easy 2 FR527, Cnty 104 5.80 11,500 ft. NA 1-2 hours
County: Pitkin
Adopted by:      
Managed by: Pitkin County
White River National Forest, Sopris District
501 Main St, Fairplay, CO 80440
620 Main Street, Carbondale, CO 81623
(719) 836-2771
Summary: Hagerman Tunnel 4WD road follows the old Colorado Midland Railroad line to the abandoned Hagerman Tunnel.
Attractions: Scenic views. Railroad history. Fall Colors
Agency - November 23 to May 20
Best Time: June - Early, snow will still close the Tunnel
July - Late in the month
August - Best
September - Best
October - Watch for early snowstorms
Hiking -

Equestrian -

Mountain Bike -


Motorcycle -

Camping: There are dispersed sites along County Rd 104 on the north side of Ivanhoe Lake.
Base Camp: This would not be a good place to base camp due to its altitude.
Fall Colors: Poor - Most of the road is just below timberline in pine forest.
Snowshoeing -

Cross Country Skiing-

Snowmobile -

Navigation: 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. Go 14.2 miles and take a slight right onto Forest Rd 527/Ivanhoe Lake Road which becomes the Hagerman Tunnel road.
History: Hagerman Pass is 11,925 feet crossing 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)

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

Scott, Glenn R. Historic Trail Map of Leadville : USGS, 2004. Online.
Helmuth, Ed and Gloria. The Passes of Colorado Boulder, Colorado: Pruett, 1994. Print.
Where County Road 104 intersects with FR105 you head southest toward Ivanhoe Lake on County Rd 104 and you will come to the west portal of the Ivanhoe-Busk Tunnel at the head of the lake. The old railroad bed is still visible along the shore of the lake, but the tunnel has long since collapsed. Drive past the maintenance buildings and up a short hill to connect with the old Hagerman Tunnel railroad bed, FR527. It will loop around the top of the valley above the lake and head back west through the trees. You will continue around the hill south of the lake passing through cuts and fills and one ledge section that the steam locomotives use to run. It is interesting to imagine the trains running along this winding route in the old days. There will be another intersection as you come back around to the east and enter a wide flat area. To the right is the continuation of FR527 that leads to a ski hut. To the left the road will cross through some dips and tie back into the railroad bed. Shortly you will come to the end of the line at the west portal of the Hagerman Tunnel.
Ivanhoe Lake

photo by:
Larry M

Do not enter the tunnel, it is filled with water. At the top of the rock pile that blocks the entrance you can look into the tunnel and see the old timbers that line the tunnel. Bring a flashlight.
Inside Hagerman Tunnel 1988

photo by:
Adam M

Data updated - July 10, 2017       4WD Road driven - September 1, 2012       Copyright 4X4Explore.com - 2000-2017