An easy, mile-long trail that opened to the public last week leads to unparalleled views of the Royal Gorge and the Sangre de Cristo mountains.
It’s a must-stop for anyone visiting the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park or other sites in the region, whether to hike, mountain bike, raft, or seek out dinosaur tracks.
The trek will be a familiar route for some. For 52 years the historic route that cuts through private property held the tracks for the Royal Gorge Scenic Railway, a small train with open-air cars that took thousands of tourists to Point Alta Vista.
In fact, the new Point Alta Vista Trail traverses four restored train trestles thanks to a partnership between the city of Cañon City and Ty Seufer, who in 2018 bought the property that once housed the train and Buckskin Joe’s Old West theme park. It was the backdrop for several western films, including “Cat Ballou” and “The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox.”
Buckskin Joe’s shut down in 2010 when the property was bought by billionaire William Koch, who moved the collection of Old West buildings to his property on the Western Slope. The train shut down a couple years later as business slowed, with its last run on Sept. 30, 2012.
The land sat vacant until Seufer bought it with plans to develop the gated Royal Gorge Ranch and Resort. But the view was something he wanted to share.
“Point Alta Vista is a very special spot, and I didn’t want to hog it,” he said after a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the trailhead.
“Coming out here was part of my childhood,” said Seufer, who grew up in Cañon City and graduated from Cañon City High School.
Getting good public access to the viewpoint has been in the works for about five years, said Rex Brady, director of Cañon City Parks and Open Space. The only other access is an eight-mile hike or bike in and out on the challenging One Track Mind trail, part of the Royal Gorge trail system.
“This view you get from Point Alta Vista is unmatched anywhere in Colorado, anywhere in the country,” Brady said, noting that a community effort by the city, Fremont Adventure Recreation and Seufer made free public access possible.
The trail will be maintained by the city and Seufer under a joint agreement, Seufer said. It crosses several private dirt roads that are part of the ranch development, but is clearly marked so hikers and mountain bikers can avoid straying onto private property.
The mostly flat trail to Point Alta Vista is not paved but it is stroller friendly and can be navigated by wheelchairs made to traverse dirt trails. Leashed pets are allowed, but ATVs and motorbikes are not allowed.
The trailhead is adjacent to a large parking area about one mile south of U.S. 50 on County Road 3A, the road to the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park. The trail is open dawn to dusk.
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