The Colorado Trail Foundation breaks the trail up into 28 different sections. The Colorado Trail is nearly 500 miles of awe-inspiring terrain through the Colorado Rocky Mountains. 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. If you’re heading to the Colorado Trail for a quick day adventure, you can pick from 28 different drop-off spots along the trail. The San Juans are also a more scenic way to finish than by coming through Waterton Canyon outside Denver. 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 “End to End” Guide by Paul Magnanti. Collegiate East Route Option: The original 78 mile route. Water resupply points are usually plentiful on the CT with only a few long dry stretches - notably the Cochetopa Valley and the Indian Trail Ridge. Here is an example of a complete thru-hiking gear list for the Colorado Trail. As you near the Animas River, listen carefully for the shrill whistles from the trains navigating the narrow gauge railway that connects the old mining towns of Silverton and Durango. The Centennial State's namesake route offers a tour of some of the country's best high alpine scenery in one monthlong hike. The high elevation combined with colder months can lead to extremely dangerous hiking conditions. You'll also want to pack a hydration system that can hold ample water as sun exposure can make you dehydrated very quickly. This section of the trail also is not as steep allowing hikers to break in their legs before they hit the higher elevations in the west. The Colorado Trail is a 486 mile backpacking route starting in Denver, Colorado and ending in Durango, Colorado. Before mid-June, the higher elevations and passes can still be thick with snow, and after late September and early October, there’s a very real risk of experiencing a snowstorm at the same elevations. 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. Don’t forget sunglasses! According to the Colorado Trail Foundation, there are thousands of people who hike, bike or horseback parts of the path every year. 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. Trail Summary: The Colorado Trail is a 485 mile hike that starts near Denver and ends in Durango, Colorado. It is a long-distance trail stretching for 782 km (486 miles) from Waterton Canyon southwest of Denver to Durango. He ran between 54 and 89 miles a day. There are only a few places where the Colorado Trail comes near a road whereby a support vehicle can get in. Divided into 28 segments, the trail end points are Denver and Durango. The 539-mile bike route can take riders anywhere from between 8 and 18 days—far quicker than the boot-sole method. Here are a few more recommended resources to help you get started planning your CT hike. This seem to serve as more of a safety precaution than anything else. You should always have a guidebook and/ or map on you though. 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. The Colorado Trail Guide Book, 9th ed. 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. Get ready for some thigh-busting ascents and high altitude exposure as the trail climbs through two passes. Because of the scarcity of bears, many people don't bear bag on the CT. 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. In certain wilderness areas you’ll be required to fill out a free self-issue permit before entry, but you don’t have to worry about fighting a quota to secure any sought-after permits for the trail before you hit it. (The CT Bible, don’t leave home without it! If any long trail is likely to induce a headache, it's the Colorado Trail. We do not do sponsored or paid posts. 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. Much of this, however, depends on the previous winter, and getting a lucky weather window will always be part of the long trail experience. If a few days of wandering through nature doesn’t quite cut it for you head for the Colorado Trail. They’re also convenient bail-out points should something go wrong (i.e., injury or bad weather), and determine where hikers can resupply. 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. 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. For those reasons, most hike the trail over the summer, taking advantage of longer daylight hours, warmer temperatures, and readily-available water. 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. If you go east, expect a nice forest walk through groves of pine and aspen and the occasional road walk. With nearly 500 miles of length from Denver Metro to Durango, it may take up to six weeks to complete its entire length. There are also more bailout points if you need to leave the trail in the beginning. Take a moment to take a photo by the trailhead sign. 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. The Colorado backcountry is teeming with animals including marmots, deer, elk, bighorn sheep, and several types of birds. 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 trail alternates between open meadows and lush forests that are teeming with wildflowers and wildlife. a) Snow: As mentioned, large amounts of snowfall can be extremely dangerous on the CT. 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. Hiking the Colorado Trail allows a person to get away from the rat race and get into the backcountry Hikers have the option of traveling the Colorado Trail starting in either either Denver or Durango. Colorado Trail Segment 5 is by far the most pretty of the first 5 segments while working through 14.6 miles of hiking and 1,858 feet of elevation gain. The Colorado Trail ("CT") was first conceived by Forest Service ranger Bill Lucas in 1973, organized by Gudy Gaskill, and officially completed in 1987. The trail dramatically rises and falls with an average elevation of 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) and tops out above 13,000 feet (3,962 meters), just below Coney Summit. Just personal preference. Get epic tips, guides and how-to's in your inbox every two weeks. The trail winds through nearly 500 miles of the awe-inspiring Rocky Mountains drawing hikers from around the world and is open to hikers, bikers, and horseback riders. Most of the trail lies above 3,000 m or 10,000 feet. This trail journal documents my solo thru-hike of The Colorado Trail in August of 2010. Black bears are known to roam the backcountry, but they are not commonly seen on the trail. Equal parts backpacking food and ultralight gear. It’s a must-stop for a zero day. Marmots and other rodents are often more troublesome than bears. How Long Does it Take to Thru-Hike the Colorado Trail from Start to Finish? San Luis Peak is only 1.5 miles from the top of San Luis Pass, making it another easy offshoot. 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. The Colorado Trail is divided into 33 segments which includes a choice of two routes in the middle, Collegiate East and Collegiate West. our list of the best gear for hiking the Continental Divide Trail. The trail is more difficult and the elevation higher in the San Juan Mountains around Durango than it is at the relatively mild start closer to Denver, so most choose to head southwest, easing into the difficulty. Cows, cowboy ranches and wide open views. 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 Colorado Trail is nearly 500 miles long and climbs 75,000 feet through eight mountain ranges and six wilderness areas. We interviewed last year’s crop of thru-hikers (plus Colorado Trail Foundation staff) to find the most spectacular sections. Otherwise, you can usually expect to encounter a water source at least once every day. However long you take, plan on finishing before mid-September. Colorado has 58 of these “Fourteeners,” many of which sit in the mountain ranges that the trail winds through. A lightweight puffy for cold alpine nights, A wind shirt or breathable, light shell to protect you from the breeze when it’s warm out, Jefferson/Fairplay (72 trail miles from Denver), Silverton (410 miles, and 75 from Durango). However, finishing in Denver does make it easier to travel home when you are done. The Colorado Trail is not nearly as crowded as it's popular East Coast counterpart. When you enter this part of the trail, you must decide if you are going to take the traditional east collegiate route or the new west collegiate route. See the map on our maps page for a quick look at the segments. 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. Mountain vistas: the ups and downs of a mountain-biking/hiking paradise. Resupplying food and gear on the Colorado trail is more similar to the PCT than the AT. 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. Length 18 miElevation gain 2795 ftRoute type Point to point Option 1: East to West (Denver to Durango). Alternative Northeastern terminus points include Indian Creek Trailhead or Roxborough State Park. Hike at your own risk outside of the warmest months of the year. Some popular towns where thru-hikers usually resupply: The Colorado Trail is well marked and relatively easy to follow. In between those two points are sweeping views, gorgeous wildflowers and an experience in the mountains you will not forget. 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. Accommodations on the trail are few and far between and should not be relied on. 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