Vertex Festival Vertex Festival

Buena Vista, Colorado August 5 - 7, 2016

Field Trips

The trailhead is located in the ghost town of Hancock (past the ghost town of St. Elmo) and follows the old Denver, South Park & Pacific railroad grade for 3 miles to the east entrance of the Alpine Tunnel, which has been closed for many years.

The hike is a 6-mile round trip to the high end of the subalpine life zone. The hike begins at 11,070 feet and reaches 11,600 at the tunnel entrance. The hike is on old railroad right of way so the trail is broad with a 4% grade. For anyone from the Front Range and Colorado residents in reasonable shape, we would rate this trail easy to moderate. People from lower elevations will find it more challenging, but those in good shape should be OK with our slow and steady pace. The wildflowers are usually as spectacular as the views.

Depending on time, weather and interest in extra hiking, we can continue from the tunnel entrance up to the Continental Divide and Tunnel Lake. This will add about 3 miles and 600 feet to our total. The trail has some open areas by rock outcroppings, and we will hike in high altitude open country only if the weather is favorable.

Your Field Trip fee includes a $10 donation to GARNA – The Greater Arkansas River Nature Association

What to Bring

  • Dress for the weather, layers are recommended. There is always the possibility of changing weather in the Rockies especially at this elevation. Rain gear is not a bad idea.
  • Bring a backpack with plenty of water, a lunch, and snacks
  • Wear good hiking shoes – there is sometimes water on the trail, not stream crossings but boggy areas
  • Bring and wear sun protection – sunscreen and hat and lip balm
  • Insect repellent is never a bad idea on the trail!
  • Camera and binoculars (optional) – there will be many flowers and spectacular scenery on this trail
  • Money for ice cream (optional)

Trip Length

5 Hours

Trip Times & Schedule

Trips depart on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 9:00 am

  • 9:00 am leave festival – (breakfast pastries (Gluten Free available) and coffee will be waiting – if you have other food sensitivities, please plan on bringing your own fuel)
  • 10:00 am arrive at trailhead and meet GARNA hike leaders
  • 10-12 pm hike
  • 12 pm Stop in the St Elmo Ghost Town for ice cream and brief self-guided tour of historic buildings
  • 1:00 pm Leave to return to festival
    1:45-2 pm Back to festival


The services provided as part of any Field Trip booked through this site (“Field Trip”) are furnished by independent contractors who are not employees of, or joint ventures with, Madison House Presents, LLC (“Company”). Company is not liable for the acts, errors, omissions, representations, warranties, breaches or negligence of any supplier or any personal injuries, death, property damage or other damages or expenses resulting from causes outside of Company’s control. Company shall not be responsible for travel delays or cancellations or for any illness, death, injury, damage or loss of time arising therefrom. Company shall not be liable for any injuries, damages or losses caused to any person in connection with or by the employees of the supplier of the Field Trip, employees or contractors, terrorist activities, social or labor unrest, mechanical or construction failures or difficulties, diseases, local laws, climactic conditions, criminal acts or abnormal conditions or developments, or any other actions, omissions, or conditions outside the control of Company. By participating in the Field Trip, the participant confirms that they, and any minor children for whom they are responsible, are physically and mentally capable of such participation and that they have no medical or health conditions that would make such participation inappropriate. Such participants ASSUME FULL RESPONSIBILITY for all damage, loss or injury to themselves and any such minor child and also ASSUME THE RISKS of all personal injury, accident or illness to themselves and any such minor child. Under no circumstances, including but not limited to the negligence of others, shall Company be liable for any injury or damage to such participants or minor children.

 Vertex Hancock Hike & Ghost Town Field Trip