Option 2: West to East (Durango to Denver). There are a few campgrounds - some free and some for charge. 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. 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. 41 Backpacking Food Ideas from the Appalachian Trail, Ultralight Backpacking Gear List | 8.5 lb Base Weight (Full Comfort), 14 Best Ultralight Backpacking Tents in 2020, 14 Best Ultralight Backpacking Sleeping Bags for 2020, 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 Lake Trailhead to Ridge Above South Fooses Creek (rejoins near the middle of Section 15). The newer Collegiates West option follows sections of the Continental Divide Trail, diving deep into the mountains for a more scenic, rugged, and remote hike. However, finishing in Denver does make it easier to travel home when you are done. The Colorado Trail is nearly 500 miles long and climbs 75,000 feet through eight mountain ranges and six wilderness areas. Best of all, you get to end in the beautiful San Juan Mountains. Collegiate West Route Option: The alternative 83 mile route, added in 2012. 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. It is a long-distance trail stretching for 782 km (486 miles) from Waterton Canyon southwest of Denver to Durango. The Colorado Trail is packed with gorgeous vistas. If a few days of wandering through nature doesn’t quite cut it for you head for the Colorado Trail. 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. 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. They’re also convenient bail-out points should something go wrong (i.e., injury or bad weather), and determine where hikers can resupply. This seem to serve as more of a safety precaution than anything else. Note both route options will get you back to the same point of the trail. See more on Collegiate West route. What’s the Fastest Thru-Hike of the Colorado Trail? Colorado has 58 of these “Fourteeners,” many of which sit in the mountain ranges that the trail winds through. Some towns like Breckenridge and Salida have shuttles and affordable lodging while others only have small convenience stores. 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. Overall the average trip length reported in the survey was 33 days. Option 1: East to West (Denver to Durango). Most thru-hikers start no earlier than late June (preferably July 1st) and finish no later than the end of September (preferably September 15). 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. After stopping at Creede, hikers begin a roller coaster ride of ups and downs through the San Juan Mountains. This post may contain affiliate links. 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. Just personal preference. Otherwise, you can usually expect to encounter a water source at least once every day. Sometimes signage can disappear or cairns can crumble from rough weather, which can make it possible to get lost. The high elevation combined with colder months can lead to extremely dangerous hiking conditions. 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. The time frame to hike the Colorado Trail is narrow because of the deep snowpack and high chance of snow in the Rocky Mountains in the shoulder seasons. Slightly lower elevation and slightly shorter in length. 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. 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. Mountain vistas: the ups and downs of a mountain-biking/hiking paradise. Some hikers will hang their bag, but only at lower elevations where there are ample trees. Here is an example of a complete thru-hiking gear list for the Colorado Trail. The Colorado Trail is a traditional American cowboy song, collected and published in 1927 by Carl Sandburg in his American Songbag. For those reasons, most hike the trail over the summer, taking advantage of longer daylight hours, warmer temperatures, and readily-available water. 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. See the map on our maps page for a quick look at the segments. 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. Pedal enthusiasts can hop off the official route for a serious of detours that make the Denver to Durango ride possible. 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. 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. a) Snow: As mentioned, large amounts of snowfall can be extremely dangerous on the CT. Cows, cowboy ranches and wide open views. 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). Dogs are allowed along most of the Colorado Trail, with some exceptions. Hike into the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness and you'll enjoy Colorado's best summer school. 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. 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. The original eastern option skirts the edge of the range, staying lower and closer to civilization. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until September. This end point of the colorado trail is in my backyard! The San Juans are also a more scenic way to finish than by coming through Waterton Canyon outside Denver. Workers pounded in “golden spikes” at Molas Pass, Camp Hale, and Mt. If you go east, expect a nice forest walk through groves of pine and aspen and the occasional road walk. Trail Summary: The Colorado Trail is a 485 mile hike that starts near Denver and ends in Durango, Colorado. It’s a must-stop for a zero day. Take a moment to take a photo by the trailhead sign. Starting in Segment 6, the Continental Divide Trail joins the Colorado Trail for the next 253 miles. In short, there are plenty of road access points to get to towns to resupply food and gear. Most of the Colorado Trail is a single route. 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. 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. How Long Does it Take to Thru-Hike the Colorado Trail from Start to Finish? I started on August 1st in Denver and finished in Durango on September 6th. our list of the best gear for hiking the Continental Divide Trail. How to beat the crowds and find solitude in the Rockies. Affiliate disclosure: We aim to provide honest information to our readers. The Colorado Trail Foundation also provides GPS waypoints. Users traveling end to end encounter the high mountain lakes and towering peaks of six wilderness areas and eight … Hikers looking for a social experience, like the Appalachian Trail provides, might be disappointed. The CT comprises 567 miles of trail between Denver and Durango and passes through some of the most spectacular scenery in the Colorado Rockies. 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. This might be good or bad depending on your preference. Thru-hiking the Colorado Trail takes anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks from end to end. Known for higher elevation and significantly more epic and above-treeline scenic views. Hikers on the CT get their water from mountain streams. Dogs are not allowed in Waterton Canyon from the terminus to about trail mile 6. The Denver side is logistically easier to get to than Durango. Alternative Northeastern terminus points include Indian Creek Trailhead or Roxborough State Park. The Centennial State's namesake route offers a tour of some of the country's best high alpine scenery in one monthlong hike. Hikers hit the trail in Colorado amid fields of wildflowers 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. Other than in Waterton Canyon, there are no restrictions on camping (of course, Leave No Trace principles apply). However long you take, plan on finishing before mid-September. It traverses six wilderness areas and eight mountain ranges with an average elevation of 10,347 feet. This can require a fair amount of planning for longer stretches of more remote trail. Some popular towns where thru-hikers usually resupply: The Colorado Trail is well marked and relatively easy to follow. It usually takes thru-hikers 4-6 weeks to complete but it can be completed in sections over several years. Get epic tips, guides and how-to's in your inbox every two weeks. Be safe and use your judgement. ) of minutes protect yourself from the top of San Luis Pass you! 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