Railroad Tunnel Trail
by DeAnne T. Appleby
Boulder City has a variety of natural recreational opportunities. Lake Mead, Eldorado Valley, Bootleg Canyon, and the River Mountain, Hemenway and Railroad hiking trails, just to name a few. One of the most interesting and historic hiking trails in our area is the Railroad Tunnel Trail.
The Six Companies constructed a utility railroad to connect the many construction-related facilities scattered throughout the Hemenway Wash and surrounding area. These facilities were critical in providing construction materials needed for the building of Hoover Dam. The elevated railroad provided much-needed transportation from these facilities to the immense construction site.
Although the railroad was abandoned after the construction of Hoover Dam was completed in 1935, parts of it were still utilized by the Government. Until 1961, it was used for the transportation of equipment and supplies for general maintenance and repair of the Dam. Shortly thereafter, the rails were dismantled and in 1984, the tunnels and trail became part of the National Register of Historic Places.
The tunnels and trail make up a spectacular hiking site. A smooth, gravel-covered trail snakes through 5 tunnels, each 300’ long and 25’ in diameter. Pausing between the tunnels you can see gorgeous views of Lake Mead and the surrounding desert landscape. During the hike, take a break, have a snack and shoot some photos. The quiet solitude of the area makes a perfect setting for relaxing, meditating and watching for wildlife. With patience, you can spot bighorn sheep, ravens, lizards and antelope ground squirrels.
The trail is a relatively easy one, level for either walking or bicycling. It is approximately 5 miles from start to finish, at an elevation of about 1,360 feet. The hike takes about 2-3 hours. There is ample parking close to the trailhead. If you haven’t already taken advantage of this wonderful natural resource, be sure to do so. If you have, it’s a great time to re-experience it.