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A quick word about hiking The Colorado Trail in segments: Not everyone can spend 4-6 weeks hiking The Colorado Trail in one long hike. Segment 7 (and its logical companion, segment 8) are, in my opinion, the best and most scenic segments on the Colorado Trail north of the Collegiate East / West split. We’re waiting a bit for the weather to warm up and for the snow to melt, but we’ll be back on trail in a few days. It’s well known that the goal for 2012 is to travel ALL of the Colorado Trail – the 500+ miles on the bike and the 146.9 (+) Wilderness miles on foot. We used the heavier, more detailed official guidebook – The Colorado Trail. 31 miles southeast on Colorado Highway 114, which the Trail crosses near the junction of Segments 17 and 18. The Colorado Trail - Segments 3,2,1 4 Days and 3 nights Bailey CO to Waterton Canyon My buddy Chris and I decided to take advantage of a long weekend, and spend three nights out on The Colorado Trail. As you end this section, you will encounter Marshall pass, a 668 foot climb in a half mile that is considered to be the “steepest portion” of the Colorado Trail. Most people take around two to three weeks to backpack the full loop. The trail is rated as moderate and is primarily used for hiking, trail running, camping, and backpacking. With my sights set on traversing the entirety of the Colorado Trail over the next year(ish), I let a 24-hour rain-free window be my cue to get started. The free Summit Stage bus from Breckenridge or Frisco to Gold Hill Trailhead, right on Highway 9, makes this an easy segment to access. The mountain bike version detours Wilderness Areas, where mechanized travel is off-limits, and can be done any number of ways: from weekend warrior-ing it a couple segments at a time, to a supported through-ride with a sag vehicle, to bikepacking it unsupported in a single push. I chose Collegiate West on my thru hike and loved it! On the long descent enjoy views of Mount of the Holy Cross, followed by historic ruins of Camp Hale and a bit of mellow railroad grade to finish off the segment. But, there are a few segments which are often considered more tedious and less fun by thru hikers who have traversed the entire Colorado Trail. See the map on our maps page for a quick look at the segments. Collegiate West technically begins around mile 13.7 of segment 11, which starts at the small town of Twin Lakes. It includes maps, elevation profile charts, GPS waypoints and highlights of each of the 28 segments of the trail in a compact format. Unless you’re one of the fortunate few who can get away for the 4-6 weeks typically needed to hike the whole thing (or 2-3 weeks for bikepacking), you might be wondering: what are the best segments of the Colorado Trail? The Colorado Trail Databook (4″x 7″) is enough for most hikers. I would encourage anyone interested to try them for yourself and see what you think. We learn how it all fits together by traversing it mile by mile, step by step. The trail in its entirety represents the region’s variety in all its beauty as well as its imperfections. The mountain bike version detours Wilderness Areas, where mechanized travel is off-limits, and can be done any number of ways: from weekend warrior-ing it a couple segments at a time, to a supported through-ride with a sag vehicle, to bikepacking it unsupported in a single push. (Kenosha Pass is a “road pass” not a “trail pass,” meaning it’s a high point for vehicles but not for hikers.). Distance: 13.2 milesElevation gain: 3674 feetElevation loss: 3053 feetOpen to bikes: yes. Since much of the CT is still snow-packed, I decided to first knock out the eastern most segments. “Best” is subjective, of course. The Chalk Creek section brings you to one of the best towns on the trail -- Salida. The Colorado Trail is one of the longest, more arduous, yet most rewarding bikepacking routes in the US. Copyright 2020 Exploring Wild, All Rights Reserved | Privacy Policy. The 500-mile Colorado Trail is one of the nation's premier long-distance hiking trail and runs from Denver to Durango. It includes maps, elevation profile charts, GPS waypoints and highlights of each of the 28 segments of the trail in a compact format. Yogi’s Colorado Trail Handbook (2015) is a new alternative. The week of July 14th, an Army buddy of mine, Neal Metzler and I backpacked the first six segments of The Colorado Trail, from Denver to Breckenridge.Our original plan was to hike it in seven days but we ended up completing it in five and a half. For those interested in continuing all the way to Durango, the next few segments are not as spectacular but still worthwhile. The Colorado Trail is a long-distance trail running for 486 miles (782 km) from the mouth of Waterton Canyon southwest of Denver to Durango in Colorado, United States.Its highest point is 13,271 feet (4,045 m) above sea level, and most of the trail is above 10,000 feet (3,000 m). The trail widens with new paths and bridges. Learn more. If you’re not intending to complete the whole trail, you may want to skip these. You can camp at one of the eight designated shelters or camping areas. These segments are mostly in the trees and contain more “filler miles” than the high alpine stretches that precede them. I only recommend and link to products I know and love. The Colorado Trail can be a life-changing experience if you let it! It’s a must-stop for a zero day. The full stretch is divided into 28 segments of 11-31 miles. The full stretch is divided into 28 segments of 11-31 miles. Dust off your backpack and spend a couple nights under the stars along this incredible portion of the Colorado Trail. After hiking Segments 1-3 of The Colorado Trail, since they melted early, we decided to tackle a high elevation segment. The Colorado Trail: Segments 4 & 5. Trailheads: Rolling Creek/Colorado Trail (east trailhead); Kenosha Pass (west trailhead) This accessibility is what makes the Colorado Trail special. Copper Mountain Resort, at the segment’s end, makes a fun on-trail stop for food and beer, if that’s how you like to roll. Make it a Loop: Colorado Trail Segment 5 is an out and back hike. The Colorado Trail, one of the country’s premier long trails, is 486 miles in length, runs from Denver (technically, Littleton) to Durango, and most importantly, sits conveniently in my backyard. That said, this area features different terrain than the rest of the trail. I did an out and back hike of the first two segments of the Colorado Trail over the course of three days in late June, 2019. During a small window in the summer, the snow clears to unveil an epic high altitude through-ride on some of the best trails in the Rocky Mountains. CW segment 4 includes a stretch of historic old railroad grade dramatically cut into a steep hillside, as well as some unpleasantly rocky jeep road. The CDT route is located at high elevations, averaging about 10,000 feet. Best Family Hike Taylor Lake From Kennebec Pass, you’ll drop 500 feet over 1.8 miles (on the Colorado and Highline Trails) to a yellow and green hellebore-choked cirque sheltering Taylor Lake. CW segment 1 gets right down to business with a 3000+ foot climb up to iconic Hope Pass above 12,500 feet. 710 10th Street Rm 210 It’s generally accepted that Collegiate West is more scenic, challenging, remote, and vulnerable to summer thunderstorms (being much more above treeline). For those with more time, you could continue to segments 9-11. This isn’t a particularly easy access point (though local shuttlers can help if pre-arranged), and the scenery of segment 21 beckons you to continue…, Distance: 14.8 milesElevation gain: 3116 feetElevation loss: 4157 feetOpen to bikes: no. This is a dramatic if chilly place to camp, but make sure the weather is clear. Many folks hike this whole section starting with segment 1, but know that the first 3-4 segments are less scenic (though I liked the long gradual meadow in segment 4) and sometimes have trouble with food-habituated bears (especially segment 1). Segment 28’s claim to fame is the southern end of the Colorado Trail, just a few miles from Durango at Junction Creek Trailhead. They also include quite a bit of dirt road walking (I suspect this section flows better for bikers than hikers). Since this segment of the trail is near Denver, CO, your best bet is to ride or hike it on a weekday. Neither end of segment 23 is easy to access without 4wd, but that’s no problem, because you’ll want to combine it with adjacent segments anyway. This trail is best in the spring and fall when temperatures are cooler as the area can be warm in the summer months. Segment 10 is about 13.6 miles. 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. The restaurant has very restricted hours, the snack shop has limited inventory, and the 1.5 extra miles feel very long on the (uphill) way back. The last part is from Longmont to the southern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail. Water also becomes scarcer in this section, making heavier packs and/or longer days a necessity for most. The Colorado Trail is a long-distance trail running for 486 miles (782 km) from the mouth of Waterton Canyon southwest of Denver to Durango in Colorado, United States.Its highest point is 13,271 feet (4,045 m) above sea level, and most of the trail is above 10,000 feet (3,000 m). Convenient access points to the trail originally determined where segments would begin and end. Colorado Trail : Segment 20 is a 11.8 mile lightly trafficked point-to-point trail located near Creede, Colorado that offers the chance to see wildlife. What to Carry. The Continental Divide Trail is approximately 650 miles in length in Colorado. For the first portion of this section of the Colorado Trail, you'll follow Waterton Canyon, which is the gateway to the CT.While other portions of the trail end up being remote, this section offers easy access and beautiful views of the South Platte. One of the best segments of the Colorado Trail, Segment Six is best enjoyed as a point-to-point backpacking trip. Segment 8 begins at Copper Mountain ski resort with a long climb up to Searle and Kokomo Passes, two scenic spots separated by just a few miles of high tundra. The Colorado Trail is divided into 33 segments which includes a choice of two routes in the … Bikepacking & Touring Backpacking & Hiking Adventure Travel Recent Posts About Exploring Wild Contact. In this post I’ll highlight the best and most scenic segments of the CT in order from Denver to Durango. Most of the 28 segments can be hiked within a day or two with a light pack. Dust off your backpack and spend a couple nights under the stars along this incredible portion of the Colorado Trail. Ultrarunning fans will be thrilled to traverse part of the famed Leadville 100 race course in this highly scenic section. Distance: 12.7 milesElevation gain: 3104 feetElevation loss: 1478 feetOpen to bikes: no. There are 28 designated segments to help plan your trek. Segment 6 could be a rewarding long weekend adventure on its own. Here is a brief recap of these first two segments. Distance: 25.4 milesElevation gain: 4417 feetElevation loss: 3810 feetOpen to bikes: yes. Or, you could continue to segment 23…, Distance: 17.2 milesElevation gain: 3829 feetElevation loss: 2385 feetOpen to bikes: yes. This segment of the Colorado Trail winds through the Mount Massive Wilderness Area so mountain bikes are not allowed on it. Early September is often a great time for this portion of the CO Trail. This is a video of the first two segments of the Colorado Trail starting at the Waterton Canyon Trailhead southwest of Denver, CO. The trail is divided into 28 different segments, each beginning at a trailhead accessible by vehicle. I suggest combining segment 8 with segment 7 for a stunning 38 mile point-to-point, with the option to treat yourself to a solid meal in either Frisco/Breck or Copper Mountain. This amazing trail starts in Waterton Canyon near Denver and goes all the way to Durango. There’s more where this came from! What a great way to spend a summer at home! This town of about 6,000 is home to Western Colorado University and styles itself as “Base Camp of the Rockies” for … No matter which segments you end up hiking, it’s hard to go wrong in this alpine wonderland. Study the Colorado Trail Map; The Colorado Trail is divided into 28 different segments, so check the official map to see which ones you would like to explore, based on their levels of difficulty and natural features. Trail conditions in the backcountry are generally very good. RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN THE SEGMENT AND WIN THE “GOLDEN TICKET” FOR THE GOLDEN TRAIL CHAMPIONSHIP IN THE AZORES. For more inspiration and preparation, you might enjoy my post on essential tips for hiking the Colorado Trail, or these other popular backpacking resources: Hi there, I’m Alissa. Day hikers and section hikers can easily find their way to new segments of trail, while thru hikers can still enjoy a wild and rugged four to six week journey. Update from the Igloo Hiiii friends. Segment 5 takes hikers who started from Denver into more open landscapes than they’ve encountered previously, and includes wide-open views over South Park basin as well as the CT’s first view of the Continental Divide. No matter which segments of the Colorado Trail you choose to hike, it’s hard to go wrong. The trail, starting at Hotel Draw, continues south to gradually climb to treeline. After hiking segment 2, … For each highlighted segment I’ll include why it’s special, how to access it, ideas for combining with adjacent segments for trips of different lengths, and of course some drool-worthy photos of the scenery. For those who have the time and can’t decide between west or east, a popular option is to combine them both into the Collegiate Loop. 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