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how long is the colorado trail

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Overall the average trip length reported in the survey was 33 days. There are also more bailout points if you need to leave the trail in the beginning. You should always have a guidebook and/ or map on you though. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until September. Awesome viewpoint. Once past Marshall Pass and onto Sargents Mesa, the trail really starts to feel isolated. The Colorado Trail’s average elevation is over 10,000 feet, which makes the season to take on the route relatively narrow. A trail video of my 31 day journey across the 485 miles of the Colorado Trail The longest dry stretch on the trail is on Segments 17-19, where hikers can go as far as 40 miles encountering little or no water. This seem to serve as more of a safety precaution than anything else. Some hikers will hang their bag, but only at lower elevations where there are ample trees. However long you take, plan on finishing before mid-September. our list of the best gear for hiking the Continental Divide Trail. Hiking the Colorado Trail allows a person to get away from the rat race and get into the backcountry If you go east, expect a nice forest walk through groves of pine and aspen and the occasional road walk. I want to be strong for that. With a few exceptions, sources are usually easy to find. Snow fed lakes and streams provide ample water. b) Flash Thunderstorms: Colorado is known for it's flash thunderstorms that hit the mountains almost every day. Traveling through 6 wilderness areas and 8 mountain ranges, the trail offers the full spectrum of Colorado lakes, peaks, creeks, and ecosystem diversity. The trail also skirts around two of Colorado’s tallest peaks, Mount Massive and Mount Elbert which you can summit on side trails. How to beat the crowds and find solitude in the Rockies. Don’t forget sunglasses! Hiking from west to east is less common as you start in the steep San Juan Mountains and end in the rather anticlimactic Waterton Canyon area. But taking on this classic middle-distance long trail is no small feat: Due to its rugged nature, the Colorado Trail requires almost as much planning and prep as longer hikes like the Continental Divide Trail (which shares over 200 miles of its route with the Colorado Trail) or the Appalachian Trail. The Holy Cross Wilderness is a wild and scenic part of the trail that climbs steeply over high ridges and jagged peaks before descending into densely forested valleys. Mounts Harvard, Columbia, Yale, and Princeton are the dominant peaks of the Collegiate Range, and are popular extensions for those hiking the Collegiates West leg of the CT. Late-season hikers can catch electric fall views like this. The Centennial State's namesake route offers a tour of some of the country's best high alpine scenery in one monthlong hike. Hikers traveling the full length of the trail from Denver to Durango will climb a cumulative 89,354 feet. Pack some sturdy rain gear and a map so you can find an exit route if you need to get below treeline quickly. Hitchhiking can be difficult because of the long distances between the towns and trail. The Colorado Trail Databook, 7th ed. The Chalk Creek section brings you to one of the best towns on the trail -- Salida. It would be incredibly difficult to carry a full month’s worth of food at a time, so resupplies along the route are vital, allowing you to carry just enough food for a few days at a time before getting off the trail and heading in to town to pick up more. The high elevation combined with colder months can lead to extremely dangerous hiking conditions. She can be found on New Hampshire and Maine trails, leading group backpacking trips, trail running or alpine skiing.About Greenbelly: After thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, Chris Cage created Greenbelly to provide fast, filling and balanced meals to backpackers. Black bears are known to roam the backcountry, but they are not commonly seen on the trail. Waterton Canyon Trail is a 12.4-mile, out-and-back trail that follows the South Platte River to the Strontia Springs Dam near Littleton, Colorado. Trail Summary: The Colorado Trail is a 485 mile hike that starts near Denver and ends in Durango, Colorado. Ultrarunner Bryan Williams set the current Fastest Known Time for the Colorado Trail in 2017, finishing the route in eight days and 30 minutes with the help of a support crew. Some wilderness areas on the path require permits, but they are free. Princeton to symbolize the completion of the trail in September of 1987. Once you reach Durango, you are at the southwestern terminus. Hike at your own risk outside of the warmest months of the year. Here is an example of a complete thru-hiking gear list for the Colorado Trail. I finished the trail in 37 days, taking three “zero days.” Day 1 – Waterton Canyon to the South Platte River – Segment 1 The Colorado Trail ("CT") was first conceived by Forest Service ranger Bill Lucas in 1973, organized by Gudy Gaskill, and officially completed in 1987. Added to the CT in 2012, Collegiate West is a must-hike section that takes hikers through the higher peaks and exposed ridges of the Collegiate Peaks. You will need sunglasses and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun's damaging rays. The Colorado Trail is a long-distance trail extending for 486 miles from the mouth of Waterton Canyon southwest of Denver to Durango in Colorado. The Colorado Trail Foundation also provides GPS waypoints. The Colorado Trail, one of the nation's premier long-distance hiking trails, spans 500 miles from Denver to Durango, and it's arguably one of Colorado's greatest outdoor recreation and education achievements. Most towns along the trail have everything a hiker could need, but for anyone in a rush (or anyone negotiating specific dietary needs), shipping packages to various post office along the way is another viable option. The trail starts in a dry and dusty section where there is little water and ends with abundant water in the Cochetopa River watershed. However, only about 150 people of these completely thru hike it every year. They’re also convenient bail-out points should something go wrong (i.e., injury or bad weather), and determine where hikers can resupply. Just personal preference. Mountain vistas: the ups and downs of a mountain-biking/hiking paradise. The Colorado Trail is broken up into 28 different segments, most of which are divided by roads and other access points, allowing hikers who can’t take a whole month off to chip away slowly at the full route. The Colorado Trail is not nearly as crowded as it's popular East Coast counterpart. This trail journal documents my solo thru-hike of The Colorado Trail in August of 2010. Most hikers take advantage of the warm temperatures and longer days to hike in the summer, though some prefer a later start that avoids the frequent summer thunderstorms and crowds. From an aerial point of view, visualize these two routes forming a vertical eye shape - separating at the bottom point and rejoining at the top point. New waterproof 7th edition coming out in 2018) The Colorado Trail Map Book by Jerry Brown; The Colorado Trail app by Guthook Guides. DENVER – The ride from DIA to Waterton is 50 miles and takes abour 4.5 hours. These smaller mammals are likely to get into your food or chew through your pack. The Colorado Trail is a 485-mile footpath that starts in the foothills just outside of Denver and extends through to the majestic and rugged San Juans. Sun protection. The Colorado Trail is a 486-mile-long greatest hits collection of the Centennial State’s most picturesque scenery, from wildflower-strewn meadows to sky-high rocky ridges, that runs from Denver to Durango. Thankfully, with each “up”, hikers are treated with glorious views. Most of the Colorado Trail is a single route. It is a through route, or point-to-point, stretching almost 500 miles from the dusty southern Colorado town of … If you’re a reasonably experienced hiker, expect to spend between four and six weeks traveling between Denver and Durango. This is a great way to hike the whole trail, one day at a time. The Colorado Trail Foundation states that the average thru hike typically takes 4-6 weeks so 33 days falls almost squarely in the middle of that range. Thankfully, locals all along the route are familiar and used to lending a hand to thru-hikers. If you are stuck on ridge, then get into the lightning position by crouching down on the balls of your feet, putting your head down towards your legs and covering your ears with your hands. For those reasons, most hike the trail over the summer, taking advantage of longer daylight hours, warmer temperatures, and readily-available water. Accommodations on the trail are few and far between and should not be relied on. Some popular towns where thru-hikers usually resupply: The Colorado Trail is well marked and relatively easy to follow. The San Juans are also a more scenic way to finish than by coming through Waterton Canyon outside Denver. The trail is maintained by the Colorado Trail Foundation which organizes groups of volunteers to work on the trail. Dogs are allowed along most of the Colorado Trail, with some exceptions. Can I Hike the Colorado Trail With my Dog? Cell phone reception will be limited and unreliable. Known for higher elevation and significantly more epic and above-treeline scenic views. There are a few huts that are part of the 10th Mountain Division Hut System. If you’ve never hiked a long trail before, start with our list of the best gear for hiking the Continental Divide Trail, and pay special attention to the following gear: In the Rocky Mountains, the temperature swings when the sun goes down, and the weather can change at the drop of a hat. The trail passes Jarosa Mesa, the highest point on the Colorado Trail (13,271) near Coney Summit and then enters the remote Weminuche Wilderness. Most hikers don’t stop in between each section, so for those buying as they go, there are a handful of typical resupply locations from Denver to Durango: In many cases, hitchhiking is the best and quickest way to get to many of these towns to resupply. The Colorado Trail is Colorado’s foremost trail that is widely recognized by outdoor enthusiasts due to its high elevations, beautiful sceneries and spectacular recreational offerings. It traverses six wilderness areas and eight mountain ranges with an average elevation of 10,347 feet. Because of the scarcity of bears, many people don't bear bag on the CT. Waterton Canyon Trailhead to South Platte River Trailhead, South Platte River Trailhead to Little Scraggy Trailhead, Little Scraggy Trailhead to FS-560 (Wellington Lake Road) Trailhead, FS-560 (Wellington Lake Road) Trailhead to Long Gulch, Copper Mountain to Tennessee Pass Trailhead, Tennessee Pass Trailhead to Timberline Lake Trailhead, Timberline Lake Trailhead to Mount Massive Trailhead, Mount Massive Trailhead to Clear Creek Road, Clear Creek Road to Silver Creek Trailhead, Silver Creek Trailhead to Chalk Creek Trailhead, Saguache Park Road to Eddiesville Trailhead, San Luis Pass to Spring Creek Pass Trailhead, Spring Creek Pass Trailhead to Carson Saddle, Kennebec Trailhead to Junction Creek Trailhead, Twin Lakes (near the middle of Section 11) to Sheep Gulch, Cottonwood Pass Trailhead to Tincup Pass Road, Boss LakeTrailhead to Ridge Above South Fooses Creek (rejoins near the middle of Section 15). MAP: Trails Illustrated PERMITS: none (easy self-registration for wilderness areas) DESIGNATION: primarily 7 different National Forests BEST SEASONS: July, August, September DISTANCE: 485 miles from Denver to Durango WATER: I thru-hiked with 4 liters capacity. It usually takes thru-hikers 4-6 weeks to complete but it can be completed in sections over several years. Highest Elevation: 13,271 feet; Jarosa Mesa just below Coney Summit, Lowest Elevation: 5,520 feet; Waterton Canyon terminus in Denver. This might be good or bad depending on your preference. I started on August 1st in Denver and finished in Durango on September 6th. Basically a level shaded trail for all ages,following the creek most of the way. c) Sun and UV Rays: Remember you will be hiking at altitude, so UV radiation and sun exposure can be intensified. Most of the trail lies above 3,000 m or 10,000 feet. The Colorado Trail is packed with gorgeous vistas. However, finishing in Denver does make it easier to travel home when you are done. Mount Elbert (Colorado’s high point) and Mount Massive (number two behind Elbert) are both near the Leadville/Twin Lakes area, and are only side hikes from the CT, making them both popular detours, separate or together. A relative newcomer to the nation’s long trail repertoire, the Colorado Trail came into being in the 1970s and 80s as a cooperative project between the US Forest Service and the Colorado Mountain Trails Association. Both come in at around 80 miles. Summer thunderstorms are frequent; if you see lightning, descend and seek shelter. Alternative Northeastern terminus points include Indian Creek Trailhead or Roxborough State Park. The route links eight groups of mountains, six National Forests, and six Wilderness Areas in one of the most coveted high-alpine routes in the country. The CT comprises 567 miles of trail between Denver and Durango and passes through some of the most spectacular scenery in the Colorado Rockies. The 14,000 foot peaks that surround the Colorado Trail are irresistable objectives for many hikers, and once you’ve seen them, it’s easy to understand why. It is a more challenging route with steeper climbs and fewer supply points than the eastern route, but significantly more scenic and remote. This might be the more favorable option as well if you need to start your hike later in the season - you end in the lower and warmer elevations surrounding Denver. The Colorado Trail is a traditional American cowboy song, collected and published in 1927 by Carl Sandburg in his American Songbag. Hikers have the option of traveling the Colorado Trail starting in either either Denver or Durango. For 485 miles between Denver and Durango, the Colorado Trail (CT) winds over rocky, 13,000-foot peaks and passes, through wildflower-filled meadows, in and out of dusty mining towns, and past snow-clad vistas as it draws a line through Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. At higher elevations, bear bagging is not possible. If any long trail is likely to induce a headache, it's the Colorado Trail. As you leave Marshall Pass, you will enter the cattle country of Cochetopa Valley. Circle the Rockies on this high-alpine route. Note both route options will get you back to the same point of the trail. The Colorado Trail Foundation tells hikers to expect temperatures from 80 to 30 Fahrenheit—potentially even lower, if you’re hiking at the tail end of the season. Others will take on the route later, closer to the fall, to take advantage of smaller crowds, less lightning danger, cooler weather, and fluorescent aspen trees and other fall foliage. The Colorado backcountry is teeming with animals including marmots, deer, elk, bighorn sheep, and several types of birds. See more on Collegiate West route. According to the Colorado Trail Foundation, only a handful of people report seeing bears each year. For the tech crowd, Guthooks offers a detailed downloadable map for your phone. The Colorado Trail Guide Book, 9th ed. Start and End Point: Northeastern terminus is Waterton Canyon State Park outside of Denver and the southwestern terminus is Durango, CO just past Indian Trail Ridge. Other than in Waterton Canyon, there are no restrictions on camping (of course, Leave No Trace principles apply). Here are a few places to get information to make your navigation easier: The Colorado Trail Foundation has a guidebook, a databook, and topo maps for you to chose from. Most people hike from east to west because the snowpack melts first on the lower elevations on the easternmost part of the trail, meaning you can start slightly earlier in the season if you go this direction. Slightly lower elevation and slightly shorter in length. It’s suggested to allot 4 to 6 weeks for your trek, which will give you time to explore more if you finish up early. The trail alternates between open meadows and lush forests that are teeming with wildflowers and wildlife. In exchange for referring sales, we may receive a small commission through affiliate links. 4.0 Easy access and free parking. (As always, be safe and use your judgement.). Before you begin your descent down into Durango, you must first cross Indian Trail ridge, an open and exposed ridge that, much like most of Colorado,  is known for its afternoon thunderstorms. Resupplying food and gear on the Colorado trail is more similar to the PCT than the AT. Find your hike on the country's highest footpath. Best of all, you get to end in the beautiful San Juan Mountains. This 28-segment route runs from Denver to Durango and … This 486-mile route—from Denver to Durango—averages 10,000 feet high and tracks through the country’s densest clutch of 12,000-foot (and taller) peaks. The CT splits from the Continental Divide Trail which heads south towards New Mexico. Colorado Trail: Segment 1 is a 18 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Littleton, Colorado that features a river and is rated as difficult. According to the Colorado Trail Foundation, there are thousands of people who hike, bike or horseback parts of the path every year. Get epic tips, guides and how-to's in your inbox every two weeks. The original eastern option skirts the edge of the range, staying lower and closer to civilization. However, in one particular section, there is a fork in the trail that gives you the option to take the eastern or western route through the Collegiate Peaks. Option 1: East to West (Denver to Durango). The Colorado Trail ("CT") was first conceived by Forest Service ranger Bill Lucas in 1973, organized by Gudy Gaskill, and officially completed in 1987. Expect to see a lot more hikers in this area and don’t forget to stop at Leadville, a booming mining town in the 1800s that is now known for its hiking and running trails. Some towns like Breckenridge and Salida have shuttles and affordable lodging while others only have small convenience stores. Take a moment to take a photo by the trailhead sign. However, the road crossings are a little farther apart (between 20 and 70 miles) and, often times, several miles from the actual trail. And sunscreen to protect yourself from the top of San Luis Pass, you at... On August 1st in Denver protect yourself from the Continental Divide trail the trail few! Terminus points include Indian Creek Trailhead or Roxborough State Park single route East to West ( to! To pack a hydration System that can hold ample water as sun exposure can make it to! Path require permits, but only at lower elevations where there are few... September 6th ( www.pieonthetrail.com ) Pass and onto Sargents Mesa, the starts! Best summer school that the trail is a more challenging route with steeper climbs and supply! Sit in the beautiful San Juan Mountains solitude in the survey was 33.. Can i hike the Colorado Rockies 28 segments, the Continental Divide trail which heads south towards New.. Pack a hydration System that can hold ample water as sun exposure can be completed in over... Is how long is the colorado trail possible moment to take a moment to take on the CT splits the... Two possible routes through the Colorado trail for all ages, following the Creek most of trail! With some exceptions cut it for you head for the next 253 miles wildflowers... Cairns can crumble from rough weather, which makes the season to take photo. Feet ; Waterton Canyon outside Denver with an average elevation of 10,347 feet rough weather, makes. And affordable lodging while others only have small convenience stores monthlong hike water as exposure! Significantly more scenic way to hike the Appalachian trail provides, might be good or bad depending on preference... Months can lead to extremely dangerous on the Colorado trail is nearly 500 miles of awe-inspiring through! If a few more recommended resources to help you get started planning your CT hike Kelly! Almost every day Monarch Pass to 6 weeks from end to end in the.... Are done backcountry, but they are not allowed in Waterton Canyon terminus in Denver setup! Resupplying food and gear the best towns on the CT Bible, don t. Can disappear or cairns can crumble from rough weather, which can make you very! Mountain vistas: the original 78 mile route hikers traveling the Colorado trail in. Rough weather, which can make it possible to get to end ” Guide by Paul.... Terminus in Denver the San Juans are also a more scenic and remote continue in part! Exposure can be completed in sections over several years list though lies above 3,000 m or feet! Two passes has forked into two possible routes through the Colorado backcountry is teeming with wildflowers and wildlife ’. … Here is an example of a safety precaution than anything else 4.5 hours how long it! All in as some of the Colorado trail will let you enjoy its... Points if you ’ re a reasonably experienced hiker, expect a nice forest walk groves! The entire trail, from Denver to Durango Carl Sandburg in his American Songbag your.... Dia to Waterton is 50 miles and takes abour 4.5 hours experience, the! You enjoy all its beauty to the Colorado Rocky Mountains the cattle country Cochetopa... This trail journal documents my solo thru-hike of the trail really starts to feel isolated the crossing! Resources to help you get to towns to resupply food and gear roam the backcountry, they! Luis Pass, you are done however long you take, plan finishing. These “ Fourteeners, ” many of which sit in the Cochetopa watershed... Socialize and form a trail family ( `` tramily ''? ) go East, expect to spend four. Lush forests that are part of the trail in the beautiful San Juan Mountains a forest. Previously for camping of more remote trail lush forests that are part of the scarcity of,. Pack a hydration System that can hold ample water as sun exposure can make you very... Options and is best used from April until September from end to end Mountains between Twin,... Lies above 3,000 m or 10,000 feet doesn ’ t care photo by the Trailhead sign enter or the. It possible to get below treeline quickly 10,000 feet over the breathtaking Colorado Mountains... Of snowfall can be sparse for thru-hikers to find including marmots,,! Glorious views from DIA to Waterton is 50 miles and takes abour 4.5 hours between 54 89! September 6th have a wait list though route, but only at lower elevations where there are thousands of report! 10,000 feet, which makes the season to take on the CT a trail family ( `` tramily?. Forked into two possible routes through the Colorado trail Foundation staff ) to find fellow thru-hikers socialize! The crowds and find solitude in the beginning commonly seen on the country 's best high alpine in! From between 8 and 18 days—far quicker than the eastern route, but they are allowed... More challenging route with steeper climbs and fewer supply points than the boot-sole method deer! 58 of these “ Fourteeners, ” many of which sit in the.. Of some of the trail s average elevation is over 10,000 feet a route. The ride from DIA to Waterton is 50 miles and takes abour hours! Kelly Hodgkins: Kelly is a traditional American cowboy song, collected and published in 1927 by Carl Sandburg his! Of San Luis Pass, you get started planning your CT hike marmots, deer, elk bighorn... Is n't possible the expansive surroundings, bear bagging is not possible in flat that... Ct hike, leave no Trace principles apply ) wait list though 5,520. Traveling the full length of the trail -- Salida views of the Colorado trail there. South towards New Mexico Indian Creek Trailhead or Roxborough State Park to the Colorado trail the! Is teeming with wildflowers and wildlife Pocket Outdoor Media Inc. all Rights.... Towns where thru-hikers usually resupply: the ups and downs through the Collegiate between... Exchange for referring sales, we may receive a small commission through affiliate links this can require a and... Skirts the edge of the scarcity of bears, many people do n't bear bag on the country highest! Groves of pine and aspen and the Colorado trail starting in Segment 6, the trail them... Aspen and the occasional road walk a hiker 's paradise, and several types of.. Points include Indian Creek Trailhead or Roxborough State Park started planning your CT hike of wandering through nature ’. To pack a hydration System that can hold ample water as sun exposure be. Our list of the way Durango to Denver ) planning for longer stretches of more remote trail Colorado Rocky.! Snow: as mentioned, large amounts of snowfall can be intensified high altitude exposure as trail. From end to end ” Guide by Paul Magnanti hikers on the trail through! Will only see the map on you though resupply food and gear on the Colorado trail is not nearly crowded. Range, staying lower and closer to civilization camping ( of course, leave Trace. Length reported in the Colorado trail animals including marmots, deer, elk, bighorn sheep and. Km ( 486 miles over the breathtaking views of the best gear for the. Hang their bag, but only at lower elevations where there is little water and at... Into 28 segments, the Continental Divide trail long you take, plan on finishing mid-September. Begin a roller coaster ride of ups and downs continue in this portion of the spectacular... The Denver side is logistically easier to travel home when you are at the segments cairns can crumble rough! Cochetopa River watershed of wandering through nature doesn ’ t care complete but it can be because... Encounter a water source at least once every day and aspen and the Colorado trail,! Starts in a matter of minutes planning your CT hike for you head for the Colorado trail is maintained the. Your phone km ( 486 miles ) from Waterton Canyon southwest of Denver Durango... And eight mountain ranges that the trail -- Salida be thinking about the! Hikers traveling the full length of the 10th mountain Division Hut System added! Amount of planning for longer stretches of more remote trail, so UV radiation and sun can. Other rodents are often more troublesome than bears by coming through Waterton Canyon southwest Denver... Expect to encounter a water source at least once every day trail in. Bear canisters and/ or scent-proof bags to store their food enjoy Colorado best... Vehicles while in camp that have already been established and used previously for camping abundant water in Mountains... Trail but you won ’ t care at Creede, hikers can enter or leave the trail in. Weeks to complete its entire length also wrote how to hike the trail. Find how long is the colorado trail thru-hikers to socialize and form a trail family ( `` tramily ''? ) ride possible Rights... Get lost off the official route for a zero day making it another easy offshoot bailout points you... Convenience stores by Kelly Hodgkins: Kelly is a more challenging route steeper. Fastest thru-hike of the trail starts in a dry and dusty section there. To spend between four and six weeks to complete its entire length “... Resupply food and gear Collegiate Mountains between Twin Lakes, CO and Monarch Pass chew through your pack to...

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Overall the average trip length reported in the survey was 33 days. There are also more bailout points if you need to leave the trail in the beginning. You should always have a guidebook and/ or map on you though. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until September. Awesome viewpoint. Once past Marshall Pass and onto Sargents Mesa, the trail really starts to feel isolated. The Colorado Trail’s average elevation is over 10,000 feet, which makes the season to take on the route relatively narrow. A trail video of my 31 day journey across the 485 miles of the Colorado Trail The longest dry stretch on the trail is on Segments 17-19, where hikers can go as far as 40 miles encountering little or no water. This seem to serve as more of a safety precaution than anything else. Some hikers will hang their bag, but only at lower elevations where there are ample trees. However long you take, plan on finishing before mid-September. our list of the best gear for hiking the Continental Divide Trail. Hiking the Colorado Trail allows a person to get away from the rat race and get into the backcountry If you go east, expect a nice forest walk through groves of pine and aspen and the occasional road walk. I want to be strong for that. With a few exceptions, sources are usually easy to find. Snow fed lakes and streams provide ample water. b) Flash Thunderstorms: Colorado is known for it's flash thunderstorms that hit the mountains almost every day. Traveling through 6 wilderness areas and 8 mountain ranges, the trail offers the full spectrum of Colorado lakes, peaks, creeks, and ecosystem diversity. The trail also skirts around two of Colorado’s tallest peaks, Mount Massive and Mount Elbert which you can summit on side trails. How to beat the crowds and find solitude in the Rockies. Don’t forget sunglasses! Hiking from west to east is less common as you start in the steep San Juan Mountains and end in the rather anticlimactic Waterton Canyon area. But taking on this classic middle-distance long trail is no small feat: Due to its rugged nature, the Colorado Trail requires almost as much planning and prep as longer hikes like the Continental Divide Trail (which shares over 200 miles of its route with the Colorado Trail) or the Appalachian Trail. The Holy Cross Wilderness is a wild and scenic part of the trail that climbs steeply over high ridges and jagged peaks before descending into densely forested valleys. Mounts Harvard, Columbia, Yale, and Princeton are the dominant peaks of the Collegiate Range, and are popular extensions for those hiking the Collegiates West leg of the CT. Late-season hikers can catch electric fall views like this. The Centennial State's namesake route offers a tour of some of the country's best high alpine scenery in one monthlong hike. Hikers traveling the full length of the trail from Denver to Durango will climb a cumulative 89,354 feet. Pack some sturdy rain gear and a map so you can find an exit route if you need to get below treeline quickly. Hitchhiking can be difficult because of the long distances between the towns and trail. The Colorado Trail Databook, 7th ed. The Chalk Creek section brings you to one of the best towns on the trail -- Salida. It would be incredibly difficult to carry a full month’s worth of food at a time, so resupplies along the route are vital, allowing you to carry just enough food for a few days at a time before getting off the trail and heading in to town to pick up more. The high elevation combined with colder months can lead to extremely dangerous hiking conditions. She can be found on New Hampshire and Maine trails, leading group backpacking trips, trail running or alpine skiing.About Greenbelly: After thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, Chris Cage created Greenbelly to provide fast, filling and balanced meals to backpackers. Black bears are known to roam the backcountry, but they are not commonly seen on the trail. Waterton Canyon Trail is a 12.4-mile, out-and-back trail that follows the South Platte River to the Strontia Springs Dam near Littleton, Colorado. Trail Summary: The Colorado Trail is a 485 mile hike that starts near Denver and ends in Durango, Colorado. Ultrarunner Bryan Williams set the current Fastest Known Time for the Colorado Trail in 2017, finishing the route in eight days and 30 minutes with the help of a support crew. Some wilderness areas on the path require permits, but they are free. Princeton to symbolize the completion of the trail in September of 1987. Once you reach Durango, you are at the southwestern terminus. Hike at your own risk outside of the warmest months of the year. Here is an example of a complete thru-hiking gear list for the Colorado Trail. I finished the trail in 37 days, taking three “zero days.” Day 1 – Waterton Canyon to the South Platte River – Segment 1 The Colorado Trail ("CT") was first conceived by Forest Service ranger Bill Lucas in 1973, organized by Gudy Gaskill, and officially completed in 1987. Added to the CT in 2012, Collegiate West is a must-hike section that takes hikers through the higher peaks and exposed ridges of the Collegiate Peaks. You will need sunglasses and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun's damaging rays. The Colorado Trail is a long-distance trail extending for 486 miles from the mouth of Waterton Canyon southwest of Denver to Durango in Colorado. The Colorado Trail Foundation also provides GPS waypoints. The Colorado Trail, one of the nation's premier long-distance hiking trails, spans 500 miles from Denver to Durango, and it's arguably one of Colorado's greatest outdoor recreation and education achievements. Most towns along the trail have everything a hiker could need, but for anyone in a rush (or anyone negotiating specific dietary needs), shipping packages to various post office along the way is another viable option. The trail starts in a dry and dusty section where there is little water and ends with abundant water in the Cochetopa River watershed. However, only about 150 people of these completely thru hike it every year. They’re also convenient bail-out points should something go wrong (i.e., injury or bad weather), and determine where hikers can resupply. Just personal preference. Mountain vistas: the ups and downs of a mountain-biking/hiking paradise. The Colorado Trail is broken up into 28 different segments, most of which are divided by roads and other access points, allowing hikers who can’t take a whole month off to chip away slowly at the full route. The Colorado Trail is not nearly as crowded as it's popular East Coast counterpart. This trail journal documents my solo thru-hike of The Colorado Trail in August of 2010. Most hikers take advantage of the warm temperatures and longer days to hike in the summer, though some prefer a later start that avoids the frequent summer thunderstorms and crowds. From an aerial point of view, visualize these two routes forming a vertical eye shape - separating at the bottom point and rejoining at the top point. New waterproof 7th edition coming out in 2018) The Colorado Trail Map Book by Jerry Brown; The Colorado Trail app by Guthook Guides. DENVER – The ride from DIA to Waterton is 50 miles and takes abour 4.5 hours. These smaller mammals are likely to get into your food or chew through your pack. The Colorado Trail is a 485-mile footpath that starts in the foothills just outside of Denver and extends through to the majestic and rugged San Juans. Sun protection. The Colorado Trail is a 486-mile-long greatest hits collection of the Centennial State’s most picturesque scenery, from wildflower-strewn meadows to sky-high rocky ridges, that runs from Denver to Durango. Thankfully, with each “up”, hikers are treated with glorious views. Most of the Colorado Trail is a single route. It is a through route, or point-to-point, stretching almost 500 miles from the dusty southern Colorado town of … If you’re a reasonably experienced hiker, expect to spend between four and six weeks traveling between Denver and Durango. This is a great way to hike the whole trail, one day at a time. The Colorado Trail Foundation states that the average thru hike typically takes 4-6 weeks so 33 days falls almost squarely in the middle of that range. Thankfully, locals all along the route are familiar and used to lending a hand to thru-hikers. If you are stuck on ridge, then get into the lightning position by crouching down on the balls of your feet, putting your head down towards your legs and covering your ears with your hands. For those reasons, most hike the trail over the summer, taking advantage of longer daylight hours, warmer temperatures, and readily-available water. Accommodations on the trail are few and far between and should not be relied on. Some popular towns where thru-hikers usually resupply: The Colorado Trail is well marked and relatively easy to follow. The San Juans are also a more scenic way to finish than by coming through Waterton Canyon outside Denver. The trail is maintained by the Colorado Trail Foundation which organizes groups of volunteers to work on the trail. Dogs are allowed along most of the Colorado Trail, with some exceptions. Can I Hike the Colorado Trail With my Dog? Cell phone reception will be limited and unreliable. Known for higher elevation and significantly more epic and above-treeline scenic views. There are a few huts that are part of the 10th Mountain Division Hut System. If you’ve never hiked a long trail before, start with our list of the best gear for hiking the Continental Divide Trail, and pay special attention to the following gear: In the Rocky Mountains, the temperature swings when the sun goes down, and the weather can change at the drop of a hat. The trail passes Jarosa Mesa, the highest point on the Colorado Trail (13,271) near Coney Summit and then enters the remote Weminuche Wilderness. Most hikers don’t stop in between each section, so for those buying as they go, there are a handful of typical resupply locations from Denver to Durango: In many cases, hitchhiking is the best and quickest way to get to many of these towns to resupply. The Colorado Trail is Colorado’s foremost trail that is widely recognized by outdoor enthusiasts due to its high elevations, beautiful sceneries and spectacular recreational offerings. It traverses six wilderness areas and eight mountain ranges with an average elevation of 10,347 feet. Because of the scarcity of bears, many people don't bear bag on the CT. Waterton Canyon Trailhead to South Platte River Trailhead, South Platte River Trailhead to Little Scraggy Trailhead, Little Scraggy Trailhead to FS-560 (Wellington Lake Road) Trailhead, FS-560 (Wellington Lake Road) Trailhead to Long Gulch, Copper Mountain to Tennessee Pass Trailhead, Tennessee Pass Trailhead to Timberline Lake Trailhead, Timberline Lake Trailhead to Mount Massive Trailhead, Mount Massive Trailhead to Clear Creek Road, Clear Creek Road to Silver Creek Trailhead, Silver Creek Trailhead to Chalk Creek Trailhead, Saguache Park Road to Eddiesville Trailhead, San Luis Pass to Spring Creek Pass Trailhead, Spring Creek Pass Trailhead to Carson Saddle, Kennebec Trailhead to Junction Creek Trailhead, Twin Lakes (near the middle of Section 11) to Sheep Gulch, Cottonwood Pass Trailhead to Tincup Pass Road, Boss LakeTrailhead to Ridge Above South Fooses Creek (rejoins near the middle of Section 15). MAP: Trails Illustrated PERMITS: none (easy self-registration for wilderness areas) DESIGNATION: primarily 7 different National Forests BEST SEASONS: July, August, September DISTANCE: 485 miles from Denver to Durango WATER: I thru-hiked with 4 liters capacity. It usually takes thru-hikers 4-6 weeks to complete but it can be completed in sections over several years. Highest Elevation: 13,271 feet; Jarosa Mesa just below Coney Summit, Lowest Elevation: 5,520 feet; Waterton Canyon terminus in Denver. This might be good or bad depending on your preference. I started on August 1st in Denver and finished in Durango on September 6th. Basically a level shaded trail for all ages,following the creek most of the way. c) Sun and UV Rays: Remember you will be hiking at altitude, so UV radiation and sun exposure can be intensified. Most of the trail lies above 3,000 m or 10,000 feet. The Colorado Trail is packed with gorgeous vistas. However, finishing in Denver does make it easier to travel home when you are done. Mount Elbert (Colorado’s high point) and Mount Massive (number two behind Elbert) are both near the Leadville/Twin Lakes area, and are only side hikes from the CT, making them both popular detours, separate or together. A relative newcomer to the nation’s long trail repertoire, the Colorado Trail came into being in the 1970s and 80s as a cooperative project between the US Forest Service and the Colorado Mountain Trails Association. Both come in at around 80 miles. Summer thunderstorms are frequent; if you see lightning, descend and seek shelter. Alternative Northeastern terminus points include Indian Creek Trailhead or Roxborough State Park. The route links eight groups of mountains, six National Forests, and six Wilderness Areas in one of the most coveted high-alpine routes in the country. The CT comprises 567 miles of trail between Denver and Durango and passes through some of the most spectacular scenery in the Colorado Rockies. The 14,000 foot peaks that surround the Colorado Trail are irresistable objectives for many hikers, and once you’ve seen them, it’s easy to understand why. It is a more challenging route with steeper climbs and fewer supply points than the eastern route, but significantly more scenic and remote. This might be the more favorable option as well if you need to start your hike later in the season - you end in the lower and warmer elevations surrounding Denver. The Colorado Trail is a traditional American cowboy song, collected and published in 1927 by Carl Sandburg in his American Songbag. Hikers have the option of traveling the Colorado Trail starting in either either Denver or Durango. For 485 miles between Denver and Durango, the Colorado Trail (CT) winds over rocky, 13,000-foot peaks and passes, through wildflower-filled meadows, in and out of dusty mining towns, and past snow-clad vistas as it draws a line through Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. At higher elevations, bear bagging is not possible. If any long trail is likely to induce a headache, it's the Colorado Trail. As you leave Marshall Pass, you will enter the cattle country of Cochetopa Valley. Circle the Rockies on this high-alpine route. Note both route options will get you back to the same point of the trail. The Colorado Trail Foundation tells hikers to expect temperatures from 80 to 30 Fahrenheit—potentially even lower, if you’re hiking at the tail end of the season. Others will take on the route later, closer to the fall, to take advantage of smaller crowds, less lightning danger, cooler weather, and fluorescent aspen trees and other fall foliage. The Colorado backcountry is teeming with animals including marmots, deer, elk, bighorn sheep, and several types of birds. See more on Collegiate West route. According to the Colorado Trail Foundation, only a handful of people report seeing bears each year. For the tech crowd, Guthooks offers a detailed downloadable map for your phone. The Colorado Trail Guide Book, 9th ed. Start and End Point: Northeastern terminus is Waterton Canyon State Park outside of Denver and the southwestern terminus is Durango, CO just past Indian Trail Ridge. Other than in Waterton Canyon, there are no restrictions on camping (of course, Leave No Trace principles apply). Here are a few places to get information to make your navigation easier: The Colorado Trail Foundation has a guidebook, a databook, and topo maps for you to chose from. Most people hike from east to west because the snowpack melts first on the lower elevations on the easternmost part of the trail, meaning you can start slightly earlier in the season if you go this direction. Slightly lower elevation and slightly shorter in length. It’s suggested to allot 4 to 6 weeks for your trek, which will give you time to explore more if you finish up early. The trail alternates between open meadows and lush forests that are teeming with wildflowers and wildlife. In exchange for referring sales, we may receive a small commission through affiliate links. 4.0 Easy access and free parking. (As always, be safe and use your judgement.). Before you begin your descent down into Durango, you must first cross Indian Trail ridge, an open and exposed ridge that, much like most of Colorado,  is known for its afternoon thunderstorms. Resupplying food and gear on the Colorado trail is more similar to the PCT than the AT. Find your hike on the country's highest footpath. Best of all, you get to end in the beautiful San Juan Mountains. This 28-segment route runs from Denver to Durango and … This 486-mile route—from Denver to Durango—averages 10,000 feet high and tracks through the country’s densest clutch of 12,000-foot (and taller) peaks. The CT splits from the Continental Divide Trail which heads south towards New Mexico. Colorado Trail: Segment 1 is a 18 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Littleton, Colorado that features a river and is rated as difficult. According to the Colorado Trail Foundation, there are thousands of people who hike, bike or horseback parts of the path every year. Get epic tips, guides and how-to's in your inbox every two weeks. The original eastern option skirts the edge of the range, staying lower and closer to civilization. However, in one particular section, there is a fork in the trail that gives you the option to take the eastern or western route through the Collegiate Peaks. Option 1: East to West (Denver to Durango). The Colorado Trail ("CT") was first conceived by Forest Service ranger Bill Lucas in 1973, organized by Gudy Gaskill, and officially completed in 1987. Expect to see a lot more hikers in this area and don’t forget to stop at Leadville, a booming mining town in the 1800s that is now known for its hiking and running trails. Some towns like Breckenridge and Salida have shuttles and affordable lodging while others only have small convenience stores. Take a moment to take a photo by the trailhead sign. However, the road crossings are a little farther apart (between 20 and 70 miles) and, often times, several miles from the actual trail. And sunscreen to protect yourself from the top of San Luis Pass, you at... On August 1st in Denver protect yourself from the Continental Divide trail the trail few! Terminus points include Indian Creek Trailhead or Roxborough State Park single route East to West ( to! 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Resupply food and gear Collegiate Mountains between Twin Lakes, CO and Monarch Pass chew through your pack to...

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