The train, most recently owned by Greg and Judy Tabuteau, shut down in 2012, and at that point, the historic trestles and viewpoint were left unused. The high cost of dismantling and removing the trestles, combined with their inaccessible location, meant that they saw no use for years. When the Buckskin Joe property, which lies just to the north of the trestles and links them with CR3A, was sold to Ty Seufer, the area suddenly became the center of renewed interest.
By 2019, new public hiking and biking trails within the Royal Gorge Park were inching toward the trestles, and the possibility of incorporating them into the trail system seemed logistically feasible. Seufer and Fremont Adventure Recreation presented the idea to the city council in February 2019, suggesting that the cooperation between the city and Seufer could yield a public trail that would allow access from a public parking lot to the refurbished, re-decked trestles and also connecting to the larger, 20-mile trail system in the 5,000-acre park.
“Mayor Preston Troutman’s support really got the project going,” Seufer said. “At that point, with the city’s support, our staff, including Chainsaw, did a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of rail removal and decking of the trestles on our property.” The City of Cañon City employed Steve Thomas of Terra Firma Trails to begin working on the trail from the defunct Royal Gorge Scenic Route parking area to Point Alta Vista.
In the years following, despite construction delays and a global pandemic, a public easement agreement was reached, the one-mile trail was built, and both Seufer and the City of Cañon City have invested in the complete refurbishment of four trestles.
“I’m glad everyone will get to see, appreciate, and use Point Alta Vista, now and in future generations,” Seufer said.
The City of Cañon City’s Parks, Forestry, & Cemetery department has worked in conjunction with Terra Firma Trails and Fremont Adventure Recreation to finish the largest trestle and also the one-mile out-and-back trail. It has been a labor of love for all involved.
“The trail is a testament to what can be accomplished when local government, private landowners and community organizations work together towards a common goal for all to enjoy,” said Rex Brady, Parks and Open Space Director for the City of Cañon City. “A classic rails-to-trails story”
Now that the trail is complete and open, the public is welcome and encouraged to enjoy the free access and inspiring views.
“The Point Alta Vista trail provides both local citizens and visitors alike an opportunity to witness firsthand one of the most incredible views available of the Royal Gorge canyon,” Brady said. “With just an easy two-mile hike one can retrace the original route of the historic Royal Gorge Scenic Railway that took passengers over land and trestle bridges to Point Alta Vista in the past.”
Access to the trail relies on a public easement through private property at the Royal Gorge Ranch and Resort, and it is important that all users stay on the marked trail. Users are reminded to please pack out any and all trash, and practice Leave No Trace principles.
To reach the Point Alta Vista trail, take U.S. 50 west, turning south at CR3A on eight-mile hill toward the Royal Gorge Park. Travel 1.25 miles and turn right into the parking area. Look for the Point Alta Vista Trail map and pedestrian gate. The wide, natural surface trail is appropriate for most ability levels. It is available for human-powered traffic only and all dogs must be leashed. (Note that some dogs may find the decking difficult to walk on.)
Additional trails can be accessed from Point Alta Vista, but it should be noted that they are intermediate to difficult singletrack trails and users should be aware of their ability level and prepare for longer distances. Maps are available at joinFAR.org or on most trail apps, including CoTREX and Trailforks.