Thursday, 03 October 2013 08:03

Epic Trail Spotlight – The Colorado Trail

Photo Courtesy of
Take advantage of the amazing trails in Colorado. If you have not spent much time on the Colorado Trail (CT), what are you waiting for? There’s no better way to experience the Rocky Mountains than by hiking, running or biking on the CT. It starts in Denver and goes 483 miles (777 KM) towards Durango, through eight mountain ranges, seven national forests and six wilderness areas. The trail climbs and descends frequently, with a high point of 13,334 ft in the San Juan’s. Fortunately, day hikes, running or bike rides are a possibility. There are historic mining towns, old railroad tunnels and endless fields of wildflowers among the 28 segment trail, each with its own individual entry points at the beginning and end. What makes the CT unique is that it was developed with the efforts of thousands of volunteers, all interested in the conservation and recreational exploration of Colorado’s stunning mountains.


Epic – This trail can be run in one push. Mere mortals can run it in 2 weeks, super human athletes can aim for under 10 hours.

Endurance – If you only have time for a section of the CT, consider the 35 miles between Leadville’s Turquoise Lake and Twin Lakes. This is sections 10 and 11 of the CT.

Bonus – The whole CT can be done on mountain bike with some mandatory bypasses.

The eastern terminus starts at Waterton Canyon just southwest of Denver.
The western terminus ends in Durang. CO.

Most through travellers travel from east to west. You can park a car in Durango and take a bus to Denver.

483 miles from end to end

The general rule is that the CT is snow free by July 1st and the CT “season” is primarily July and August. Weather conditions in Colorado change quickly. You can encounter any kind of weather any time of the year, so please plan ahead and dress appropriate for the weather conditions. Much of the CT is at high elevations, the sun is intense (wear sunscreen) but it is possible to encounter snow or thunderstorms at any time.

Because of the elevation and the often steep terrain, the entire trail is not suitable for the beginner hiker.

Side Notes:
Do your best to prevent altitude sickness. If possible, give yourself a couple of days in the Denver or Durango areas to allow your body to adjust before you begin your adventure. A slow, gradual ascent can also help; generally, east-to-west on the CT allows for a steady acclimation.