The trailhead is past the lake. THE ROUTEThe CT is a 485-mile trail between Denver and Durango that winds its way through six wilderness areas, eight mountain ranges, six national forests, and five river systems, and climbs nearly 90,000 feet in elevation. Go prepared for everything from rain and snow to 90?, skin-broiling heat. The San Juan National Forest Association offers Colorado Trail maps for $18 plus $2 shipping (whole set) and $10 plus $1 shipping (half set: 1-16 North, 17-29 South) and Colorado Traveler (a detailed guidebook for day hikes on the Colorado Trail) for $5 plus $1 shipping. With nearly 500 miles of length from Denver Metro to Durango, it may take up to six weeks to complete its entire length. And believe it or not, the Facebook pages are good forums for discussion before, during and after hiking the CT. Taking a month or so to thru-hike the entire length would be a dream for most backpacking enthusiasts. Life Above Treeline. I averaged 15 miles a day for the 33 days I hiked, my longest day was a true marathon at 26.2 miles, and I took two detours along the way to summit Mount Massive (14,421’) and San Luis Peak (14,014’). The Colorado Trail: Route, Stats and Resources, The Colorado Trail: A Daily Photo Journal, The Colorado Trail Databook, 7th ed. Campgrounds range from $6 to $10; most are $8. Fee campgrounds include tables, fire grates, toilets, and drinking water. Although hiking or biking the full route takes a significant commitment to preparation and gear, the route has been broken into 28 “day trips” that offer a taste of the adventure. Bike: Because the Monarch Crest Trail follows this section and part of the next one, and riders usually take a shuttle to the top of the pass, it is possible to encounter large groups during peak times, so plan accordingly. Location: Machens to Clinton, Missouri Length: 237.7 miles. And I gotta say I chose wisely ... it did not disappoint. The Colorado Trail Databook, 7th ed. A bird list, compiled by the Durango Bird Club, is available from Forest Service offices upon request. This bike trail is just a beautiful ride. Near Twin Lakes in Segment 11 south of Leadville, CT hikers have to choose between taking the East or West route around the Collegiate Peaks – a section of the Sawatch Mountain Range that includes some of the highest peaks in the Rockies. I finished the trail in 37 days, taking three “zero days.” Day 1 – Waterton Canyon to the South Platte River – Segment 1 “ The trail is easily accessible from Glenwood Springs to Aspen and offers auto and stress free road bike riding on wide, well-maintained and signed asphalt paths, that formerly were the Rio Grande Railroad line. Understanding the numbered segment system is key to using The Colorado Trail Foundation’s official guidebooks, and helpful when using the awesome CT navigation app for your smart phone. And Purgatory Resort offers 38 miles of skiing. Following the Continental Divide as closely as practicable and crossing it 30 times, about 90% of the GDMBR is on unpaved roads and trails and requires basic off-pavement riding skills to complete. Also, you can hike or bike portions of the Colorado Trail, providing an incredible Rocky Mountain adventure with less effort and time invested. Floods can occur in the floodplains. So I created this post to share the basics about the route I chose, my hiking stats and the planning resources I found most helpful. Because thru-hikers are in it for the long haul, we often take a half-day break from hiking (nero day) or a full-day break (zero day) in a nearby mountain town to shower off the grime, do laundry, drink a beer, grab some supplies, eat a hot meal, chat up the locals, devour ice cream and sleep in a mediocre bed that feels like heaven. Clear Lake and Turquoise Lake are popular spots. Photo: Mad.is.on Thru-hiking the Colorado Trail takes anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks from end to end. It can take you roughly 2 to 4 hours to finish the trail. Durango, CO. The trail fits the bill for an afternoon or early evening ride for those seeking a quick adventure with stunning mountainside views. New waterproof 7th edition coming out in 2018), The Colorado Trail Map Book by Jerry Brown, Women of the Colorado Trail (women-only group). Head south on the trail. Because the Wilderness detours pass through several towns where food resupply and motels abound, the Colorado Trail is particularly well suited for a bikepacking adventure of epic proportions. my wife was going crazy because I kept pulling over and taking Pictures. Ken Ratcliff/Flickr. The Strontia Springs Dam sure is a sight to see! It is a long-distance trail stretching for 782 km (486 miles) from Waterton Canyon southwest of Denver to Durango. https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/colorado/clear-creek-trail The Colorado Trail in its entirety is ranked as the #1 mountain bike trail in the world by Singletracks members. Most of the trail lies above 3,000 m or 10,000 feet. The most common trees are aspen, pi?ion juniper, spruce fir, and cottonwood. Some people section hike the Colorado Trail – meaning they tackle the CT a few segments at a time, rather than all 28 segments at once, and not necessarily in sequence. Nearby Recommended Routes. You will have forgotten it by the time the Colorado River comes into view way below as you ride around a cliff face before descending to the road. Dodge high wattage on the newest stretch of the Colorado Trail. Reservations must be made at least 10 days prior to arrival for individual sites and three days prior for group sites. Molas Pass is an hour's drive north of Durango on US 550. The Strater Hotel (800-247-4431) in Durango was built in 1887 and houses the largest collection of antique walnut furniture in the world. We have a companion hiking app available in our Guthook Guides app. The Colorado Trail Guide Book, 9th ed. Little Known Fact: The Colorado Trail totals 469 miles ~ for mountain biking or hiking. A thru hike generally takes 4 to 6 weeks to complete. The morning quiet was deafening. Elevations are high, very high. It takes most hikers 4-6 weeks to hike … It usually takes thru-hikers 4-6 weeks to complete but it can be completed in sections over several years. RECOMMENDED ROUTE Animas Mountain Loop 5.7 mi 9.2 km • 1,492' Up 454.84 m Up • 1,494' Down 455.29 m Down. It took me 35 days to complete the Colorado Trail, taking two zero days and four nero days, leaving Denver on July 6, 2016 and arriving in Durango on August 10. Lowest elevation – 5,522 feet (Segment 1 near Denver), Highest elevation – 13,271 feet (Segment 22 in the San Juan Mountains). Snow can fall at high elevations any month of the year. The calories eaten and poos taken are rough estimates, but the other stats are spot on. Thru-bikers should allow 15-20 days for the trip. Chipmunks and ground squirrels are common campsite visitors, and raccoons and skunks may visit after dark. The trail is maintained by the Colorado Trail Foundation which organizes groups of volunteers to work on the trail. Divide Trail, Steamboat Springs Steamboat mountain bike trail. It can take four to six weeks to hike the whole thing, but you can hike it in smaller segments. Mosquitoes are usually an annoyance only in damp and densely forested locations. 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. Reply | Thank | Edit. Last year, I decided to hike the Colorado Trail (CT), and now I’m writing a book about my experience. Waterton Canyon Trail might seem long, but it is deemed “easy” due to its low elevation gain and well-groomed trail. Just north of the Molas Pass summit, turn left at the sign for Little Molas Lake. Be prepared for high altitudes, and possibly accompanying sickness from ascending too rapidly. Pedal enthusiasts can hop off the official route for a serious of detours that make the Denver to Durango ride possible. After 100’s of hours of research, 1000’s of keystrokes, more emails and phone calls than I can recall the One of Seven Project’s Colorado Trail Race Planning Aids are done. 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). Mesa Verde National Park (970-529-4461 or 520-529-2241) offers magnificient archaeological sites about 1? I also earned the trail name “Serendipity,” but that’s a story for another day. The trail is comprised of 28 segments, ranging from 11.4 miles to 32 miles. Avoid wet, low-lying areas, and use insect repellent. Serendipity on the Trail is a memoir loaded with personal stories, life-changing events and a cast of characters I couldn’t make up if I tried. While mountain bikes aren’t allowed in the Colorado Trail’s wilderness areas, a series of detours from the official route make a Denver to Durango ride possible. Contact: SJNFA P.O. must be careful in the Summer time because people don't watch for bike riders. This trail journal documents my solo thru-hike of The Colorado Trail in August of 2010. The record is 4 days 4 hours and 17 minutes, during the Colorado Trail Race (during which riders bike through storms and darkness to compete in a race with no prizes). As a mountain biker you’ll pedal and hike a minimum of 540 miles with roughly 82,000 feet of elevation gain to do the full trail. Once again, this will depend on your elevation. The Colorado Trail Bike Route is a challenging and rewarding ride of 540 miles that stretches from Denver to Durango, passing through stunning landscapes. Everything I needed to survive was in my 60-liter backpack, which weighed between 30-34 pounds when fully loaded with food and water. The finest information is found in the Colorado Mountain Club's excellent guidebook for the entire trail, which includes topo maps. Owls often pierce the still of the night with their hoots. The CT is divided into 28 segments with access points at the end of each. There are a lot of resources out there to help you hike all or part of the CT, and my list is not exhaustive. Sites at 13 campgrounds may be reserved by calling (800) 280-CAMP. You want the stars close enough to tickle you. Usually the distance is broken into three distinct sections: from Molas Pass to Bolem Pass; Bolem Pass to the head of Hotel Draw; from Hotel Draw to Kennebec Pass and on to Durango. You may make reservations up to 120 days in advance for individual sites and up to 360 days in advance for group sites. According to the latest figures, The Colorado Trail averages 10347′ throughout its length! Did you hike it solo? 8.7mi — 1h 09m Jul 24, 2009 Justin Theilman. The Colorado Trail “End to End” Guide by Paul Magnanti. I’m often asked What does the actual path look like? In Durango, there are over 10 raft companies to help plan a white water trip. Hike like a conquistador through Colorado's Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The trail is also perfect for hikers of all kinds. Colorado is a hiker's paradise, and the Colorado Trail will let you enjoy all its beauty to the fullest. This trail makes for a mellow, fun-filled day with plenty of recreation possibilities and stunning views. The shortest hikes in the survey were in the mid 20 day range (see note below) while 52 days was the top end. 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. I averaged one shower a week, and I typically ordered two high-calorie meals whenever I hit a restaurant. Contact: SJNFA. The CDT and The Colorado Trail share the same treadway for 234 miles; over 300 if you take the Collegiate West option. Actually wiped out once because they don't watch what their doing. The record is 4 days 4 hours and 17 minutes, during the Colorado Trail Race (during which riders bike through storms and darkness to compete in a race with no prizes). Rattlesnakes are seldom seen but may be found in lower elevations during the summer. You want mountains, crystal waters, and skies so blue they make your eyes ache. It’s the perfect place to try your first week-long bike tour. Anyone can hike the Colorado Trail. Loop Dry Fork to Colorado Trail to Hofhein's connection. Spring comes earlier to this mountain paradise. National forest maps are also available from the visitor center for $3. We break down the prep, practice, and travel you'll need to bag it. Poison ivy grows in the area, usually in the lower elevations ~ in thickets along streams and on rocky hillsides. The drive from Denver is a long one; it's best to fly into Albuquerque and drive to Durango. It's a magical trail but there is one long section of bumpy double-track that does become tiresome. However, because of its length, altitude — and in many places, sheer ruggedness — the Colorado Trail can be hard to get your hands around at first. A victim of altitude sickness should descend to lower elevations immediately. A reservation fee is charged. Tag: how long does it take to hike the colorado trail. The Official Colorado Trail Guidebook and Colorado Trail Databook include maps and descriptions of those detours. Guide to Bicycle Routes on Public Lands of Southwest Colorado and Durango Area Southwest Colorado Mountain Bike Routes are helpful for mountain bikers and are available from forest offices and local bike shops. I camped in the forest, near lakes and streams, and sometimes above tree line, in a tent I carried along the way. The trail is located in southwestern Colorado, 350 miles from Denver, 15 minutes from Durango. The Colorado Trail is a 486 mile backpacking route starting in Denver, Colorado and ending in Durango, Colorado. hours west of Durango. I started on August 1st in Denver and finished in Durango on September 6th. Beginner Bike TrailsBoreas Pass, Breckenridge, 6 milesBoreas is a great family ride that starts out on a wide road — formerly an abandoned narrow-gauge rail bed — and splits off into forested singletrack that twists past historic mining relics. What you want is the Colorado Trail, specifically the sections immediately north of Durango, Colorado. In Durango, take a ride on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (970-247-2733). There are about a dozen great peaks to climb within a one-day walk from the trail. You’ll be amazed to find a 243-foot tall dam hiding in such an isolated canyon. And listen for woodpeckers in search of insects in the bark of trees. And there is lots of history to enjoy in Durango's Victorian architecture. Be prepared for extreme weather. Jeep and mountain bike rentals are also available. (The CT Bible, don’t leave home without it! Autumn foliage brings magnificent gold to the area. You've got a long weekend coming up, three full days if you leave immediately after work Thursday and return late Sunday night. I ended up losing 15 pounds, and gained a ton of muscle, by the time I reached Durango. But to really savor the trail, to fully appreciate just what a magnificent land it traverses, you've got to take your time, hiking or riding slowly, camping wherever night finds you. Reply | Thank | Edit. The 539-mile bike route can take riders anywhere from between 8 and 18 days—far … Katy Trail State Park. ELEVATION: average ~10,300 feet ROUTE: well maintained, popular trail, signed junctions GUIDEBOOK: Colorado Trail 9th Edition DATA BOOK: 7th Edition Bikers will traverse many mountain ranges, including the Colorado Rocky Mountains, during their journey. And you definitely want your mountain bike. You want to go self-contained for three days and two nights, camping wherever the mood strikes you. © 2020 Pocket Outdoor Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Colorado has climbs that belong on every cyclist's bucket list and Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park is my favorite. At the other end of the spectrum, there are those who ride the CT straight through, with barely a break… the current record for the Colorado Trail Race is held by Jesse Jakomait, with a blistering time of 3 days, 20 hours and 47 minutes. You want to go where your lungs gasp for air, your legs groan for relief, and your mind explodes with joy, solely because of where you are. Nearly 300 species of birds have been identified in southwestern Colorado. With the help of friends, and by shipping boxes ahead of me, I resupplied food about every five days, and I filtered water from streams and springs along the trail. The red arrow points to the newer, more remote Collegiate West route – the road less traveled – that I decided to follow. Best overall bike trail I have ever ridden. An occasional porcupine or furry marmot scurries along a back road. Just get in shape beforehand and drink lots of water (more than a gallon a day if the sun's out). It was late in the day and we were still climbing. The most important thing to know is The Colorado Trail Foundation is your definitive source for official guidebooks, maps and other important information. But don't worry, because altitude affects everybody that way. Stash your gear there and pedal back up the highway to Molas Pass and your car. Can I Mountain Bike the Colorado Trail? Being a moderate track, you can even take your dog here. It saved my bacon more than a few times on the trail. We estimate that 150 people complete the CT each year, with thousands of people hiking, bicycling or horseback riding portions of it. Find your hike on the country's highest footpath. Hence the season for the Co The silence of the alpine void of wind, foliage and wildlife, just two weary travelers making passage across the top of the world. Hiking and running is common too on the Government Trail. If any long trail is likely to induce a headache, it's the Colorado Trail. Each campground has a self-service registration and fee-payment station near the entrance. The forest has many developed campgrounds and picnic areas, including several designed for large groups. If you're in no hurry whatsoever and enjoy lingering, take all three days just to ride to Bolem Pass, where you'll take the dirt road to the Purgatory Ski Resort. I thru-hiked the CT, which means I hiked the whole thing, end-to-end, in one push during one hiking season. The best part is the first two sections. Thanks for signing up! In the backcountry's less-traveled areas live bighorn sheep, mountain goats, beavers, river otters, and even mountain lions. Mountain vistas: the ups and downs of a mountain-biking/hiking paradise. If you’re sane, it’ll probably take you between 15 and 20 days, if you’re averaging 25-35 miles per day, though backpackers regularly take upwards of 30 days, so it really depends on how long you want to be out there. I look forward to keeping in touch. Contact: The San Juan National Forest Association offers Colorado Trail maps for $18 plus $2 shipping (whole set) and $10 plus $1 shipping (half set: 1-16 North, 17-29 South) and Colorado Traveler (a detailed guidebook for day hikes on the Colorado Trail) for $5 plus $1 shipping. More common are ravens, flickers, gray jays, mountain bluebirds, and hummingbirds. I wore the tread off my first pair of trail runners until they were smooth, and I hiked roughly 340 of the 500 miles solo. Water is scarce along parts of the trail. Look to the sky and you may see a bald eagle or a peregrine falcon. Pace: Biking the trail can take between 4 and 20 days. Next week I’ll post a photo gallery with daily mileage and experiences from my five weeks on the trail.And if you’re curious how the book is coming along, sign up for my monthly newsletter (under the comments section below). Box 2261 Durango, CO 81302. You can also learn about the Southern Ute Indian tribe (800-847-5485), enjoy vaudeville at the Diamond Circle Melodrama (970-247-3400), relieve stress at Trimble Hot Springs (970-247-0111), attend a rodeo in the summer, take a ballon ride or glider ride, or experience an evening at Bar-D Chuckwagon (970-247-5753). August is wetter. July and early September are probably the best months. New posts and updates sent straight to your inbox. They’re the ultimate planning resources for the Colorado Trail Race. (The CT Bible, don’t leave home without it! How to beat the crowds and find solitude in the Rockies. Route description. Within San Juan National Forest, you can drive along the San Juan Skyway, a National Forest Scenic Byway; fish for trout in lakes or go boating; go kayaking on a white water river; ride a mountain bike on miles of single-track trails, including some that are known internationally; hike into the backcountry; explore three wilderness areas and more than 1,000 miles of trails; visit historic mining districts or ancient Pueblo Indian archaeological sites; see sights by foot, car, horse, motorcycle, or other off-road vehicle; hunt plentiful big game; and enjoy downhill and cross-country skiiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, or ice fishing in the winter. If you've never been to that altitude, you'll feel weak. The Colorado Trail “End to End” Guide by Paul Magnanti, “Yogi’s Colorado Trail Handbook” by Jackie McDonnell. Each can be ridden in a hard, fast day, with easy access via car or truck. Posted on April 8, 2020 May 13, 2020 by MAD Hippies Life. The closer to Denver, the more developed campsites become. came around the curves a couple times and almost had to stop because so many people were spread out on trail. It is possible to thru-bike the Trail without support by resupplying at nearby towns, including such as Frisco, Breckenridge, Leadville, Buena Vista, Salida and Silverton. In fact, the route described here has been traversed solo and self-supported in an astonishing 3 days, 23 hours and 38 minutes by Jefe Branham of Gunnison in 2012. You'll spend most of the time near timberline, which in Colorado hovers around 12,000 feet. There is a $15.75 reservation fee for group sites and a $7.85 reservation fee for family sites. All told, I hiked over 500 miles and gained nearly 100,000 vertical feet during my trip. My plan is to finish writing it by June 2018. For recorded information on Colorado wildlife special events, call (303) 291-7518. New waterproof 7th edition coming out in 2018) The Colorado Trail Map Book by Jerry Brown; The Colorado Trail app by Guthook Guides. How long did it take? I also highly recommend the CT app for your smart phone. You will enjoy the 19.7 mile long trail even better during summer and fall season. What you see depends on your elevation, but you may find mule deer, elk, black bears, and even moose. 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. They contain everything you need to plan and execute your ride/ride of the CTR. Park at the Visitor center or Safeway Shopping center near the intersection of US 34 and US 36 on the east side of Estes Park. 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. The Colorado Trail Foundation bills the Colorado Trail as “mile for mile, the most beautiful trail in America.” There’s truth to that, but it doesn’t come for free. ” stillfat July 24, 2017. Some people complete the trail by “segment travel” over the course of several seasons. I also hiked the majority of the CT solo. Check for Rocky Mountain wood ticks that can transmit Colorado tick fever. 8. The Centennial State's namesake route offers a tour of some of the country's best high alpine scenery in one monthlong hike. Were still climbing namesake route offers a tour of some of the Molas Pass and car. Up the highway to Molas Pass summit, turn left at the sign how long does it take to bike the colorado trail... M up • 1,494 ' Down 455.29 m Down visit after dark its!. And cottonwood and believe it or not, the more developed campsites become break Down the,! Highway to Molas Pass and your car information on Colorado wildlife special events, (. 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