• Activities:

    Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Spring, Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    4.5 Miles

Easy Parking
River

Spend half a day hiking the historic Argentine Trail for beautiful views of the Colorado River. The trail culminates at an old tunnel constructed in the early 1900s.

Literally blasted into the granite cliffside in some places, the Argentine Trail transports hikers back to the early 20th century when railroad tycoons and dam builders sought to profit off of the untamed wilderness in the American West. Today, this quiet footpath is a testament to the dreamers who's fortunes were made or lost in this high desert country.

Parking at the Mugrage Campground south of Kremmling, a narrow footpath leads northeast up a steep embankments to a small network of jeep tracks. Head generally north, turning right at the last prominent junction before the river (see map above for the route to the trailhead). Here the jeep track gradually narrows into a footpath, lined by pine trees standing sentinel over the Colorado rushing by below.

The trail runs parallel to the river for roughly one mile before reaching the remains of an old log cabin, which served as a mess hall for the workers who built this trail over a century ago. The original trail builders were employed by the East Argentine Mining Company, working under Edward Harriman, a railroad baron. Their goal was to dam the Colorado River in Gore Canyon and prevent the construction of a railroad by competitor David Moffat. A permit to construct a diversion tunnel was granted, but construction of the dam was never approved, allowing Moffat to extend his railroad through Gore Canyon. The dam may have never come to fruition, but the initial tunnel bore still awaits visitors at the end of the trail, standing testament to the economic forces at work in the early days of the American West.

Passing the old cabin, the trail begins to traverse a steeper slope, hugging the side of the canyon. On a summer day groups on rafts float by underneath, completely oblivious to your presence.

Upriver and into Lower Gore Canyon, narrow shelves on granite cliffs now grant you passage. Water carved this landscape to expedite its passage, and so did man with pick and dynamite.

Finally the trail culminates above Needle Eye Rapids, the last remnants of man's struggle against rock stands solemnly. The tunnel bore leads to a quiet place of granite, a truly unique space to experience. Just outside of the tunnel is a wonderful spot to have lunch, where you can watch rafters navigating the rapids on a summer weekend. Return along the same path, and consider a relaxing dip in the river on a hot summer day. 

Pack List

  • Day Pack
  • 2 Liters Water
  • Sun Screen
  • Sunglasses
  • Hiking Boots
  • Hiking Pants/Shirt
  • Rain Gear
  • Snacks
  • Camera
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Brian Pinkard

Alaskan backcountry guide and conservation corps alumni

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