Hike or Bike the Argentine Railroad Grade

Argentine Central Railroad Grade

Easy hike close to Denver. Ideal for mountain biking, showshoeing, and cross country skiing. Historic mining ruins. Lovely pine and aspen forest. Panoramic view from Pavilion Point. Close to the charming villages of Georgetown and Silver Plume. 5 - 5.25 miles round-trip with shortcut. 900 feet of incline.

The Argentine Central Railroad Grade trail is just what it says: it follows the old rail bed of the Argentine Central line. All railway remnants have long since been removed, and in its place is a wide, well-defined trail with an easy grade. With just a 900-foot incline over the course of about three miles, this is among one of the easiest hikes in Colorado. In fact, this trail is better suited for running, snowshoeing, skiing, and mountain biking. (Indeed, it's a popular start or end point for bikers traversing routes on Guanella Pass.)

The trail begins just off I-70 at Silver Plume and ends at Pavilion Point. Along this trail are three different mining ruins. A lot of lumber and metal are still standing, so they are pretty interesting to check out. Going off the trail to explore will add a little distance to the hike, but as the ruins are what make this hike interesting.

The number of aspen trees along the trail makes this a good spot for a fall hike. Because the trail is 100% forested, it does not have many long-range views (though there are a few between trees). But it is quiet, peaceful, and full of critters. Being on the north face of a mountain, it is shady and cool.

You will know you’re at Pavilion Point when you see a tall stone chimney (between 3 and 3.5 miles from the trailhead, depending on how much exploring you do. The path continues on, but at this point it becomes a 4x4 road for camping access. At Pavilion Point, crest the small hill behind the chimney, and you will have a wonderful sweeping view from Silver Plume with a mountain backdrop in the west, to Georgetown with its reservoir and more mountains in the east.

On the return, just a few dozen yards from Pavilion Point you’ll see a smaller, but still well-defined, trail going off to the right. This is a shortcut, which will take you all the way down to the bottom of the hill. It crosses the main trail once (you'll notice that on the way up), and joins it about 0.7 mile from the trailhead. Unless you want to revisit the mining sites, this is an excellent option. It’s slightly steeper, but by Colorado standards, not much. Taking the shortcut will shorten the return trip by about half the distance. (Your first time on the trail, you will not want to take the shortcut going up as it skips all the mining ruins.) Round trip should be a little over 5 miles.

As for parking, there is no designated area. There are a couple of small pull-outs where you can park; otherwise, park alongside the road. Be careful not to trespass on the properties just beyond the trailhead.

Pack List

  • Day pack with water and snacks
  • Trail shoes
  • Camera
  • Layered clothing
  • Snowshoes or cross country ski gear in winter
  • Mountain biking gear
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RT Distance 5 Miles
Elevation Gain 900 Feet
Activities Photography, Mountain Biking, Running, Skiing, Snowshoeing, Hiking, Fitness
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Dog Friendly
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Forest
Groups
Scenic
Wildlife

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Easy Ascent

This was a great hike with a gentle grade that has a few old mining ruins to explore. The whistle from the Georgetown loop railroad added to the fun factor of this hike. You are never too far from I-70 so a backcountry adventure this is not. But if you are looking for a fun hike full of features and that is close to get to this is the one!

Easy trail!

Beautiful views of the city of Silverplume on the way up. Wide trail and was not rocky. You can also hear the train whistle which was a neat experience. Would love to go back again!


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