You can still park at a trailhead, but after a few days you’re probably 20 or 30 miles away from your ride. Distance: 32.7 milesElevation gain: 5196 feetElevation loss: 5968 feetOpen to bikes: yes. The Colorado Trail is one of the longest, more arduous, yet most rewarding bikepacking routes in the US. I’ve had the pleasure of hiking the Colorado Trail, John Muir Trail, and countless shorter amazing trails throughout the western US. Segment 26. Much of the trail is above 10,000′, so spring hiking is pretty limited. CW segment 1 gets right down to business with a 3000+ foot climb up to iconic Hope Pass above 12,500 feet. Starting from Tennessee Pass at US Hwy 24, this segment of the Colorado Trail tracks southwest with a gentle, mostly level, path through the forest. Kenosha Pass provides highway access with free parking, and Gold Hill Trailhead is easily linked to nearby Frisco or Breckenridge via the free Summit Stage bus. Water also becomes scarcer in this section, making heavier packs and/or longer days a necessity for most. Dust off your backpack and spend a couple nights under the stars along this incredible portion of the Colorado Trail. . There is very limited water and over seven continuous miles of trail above treeline. At mile 10.8 of CW5 you’ll reach Monarch Pass Trailhead, a popular hiking spot on US Highway 50 and home to the excellent Monarch Crest Souvenir Shop. Segment 24 is a fitting culmination to the big mountain tour that began in segment 21. Colorado Trail : Segment 6 is a 30.8 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Jefferson, Colorado that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The last part is from Longmont to the southern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail. It’s a must-stop for a zero day. 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. Related: Answers to Essential Colorado Trail Questions, Distance: 14.6 milesElevation gain: 1858 feetElevation loss: 2055 feetOpen to bikes: no(Note: these and other stats in this post are from the Colorado Trail Databook). The big high meadows can be quite appealing in the right light. NOTE: The end of CT - Segment 8 and the start (southbound) of Segment 9 are both at that parking lot so make sure you are on the right trail! The blue-green slopes look hand painted and the rocks underfoot sparkle with crystalline formations. I’m Alissa, your virtual guide, here to help you make your biggest, boldest adventure dreams a reality. Fantastic high-elevation hike from Hotel Draw Road to Little Molas Lake (near Molas Pass on US-550 north of Durango) -- We hiked these two segments of the Colorado Trail (32 miles) in three days early in the season (July 1-3) and ran into some snow, but nothing two Texans in their mid-50s could not handle. If you’re into exploring the wild outdoors, sign up here for occasional emails with my best tips and inspiration for backpacking, hiking, and more. I would encourage anyone interested to try them for yourself and see what you think. 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). Golden CO 80401 The change in terrain can be particularly jarring for those who just descended from the high alpine beauty of Collegiate West. See map of all 28 segments. This stretch is not always as scenic but is dramatic and highly varied. Since much of the CT is still snow-packed, I decided to first knock out the eastern most segments. For those interested in continuing all the way to Durango, the next few segments are not as spectacular but still worthwhile. Distance: 20.2 milesElevation gain: 3475 feetElevation loss: 5119 feetOpen to bikes: no. Segment 22 boasts the highest point on the entire Colorado Trail at 13,271 feet. . Learn more or say hi. It includes maps, elevation profile charts, GPS waypoints and highlights of each of the 28 segments of the trail in a compact format. Distance: 83.2 milesElevation gain: 19,748 feetElevation loss: 17,058 feetOpen to bikes: partially. This is a dramatic if chilly place to camp, but make sure the weather is clear. Combine segment 7 with segment 8 for an excellent long weekend point-to-point on one of the most scenic sections of the Colorado Trail. I chose Collegiate West on my thru hike and loved it! This is a video of the first two segments of the Colorado Trail starting at the Waterton Canyon Trailhead southwest of Denver, CO. Convenient access points to the trail originally determined where segments would begin and end. Gunnison. But since most people are drawn to the Colorado Trail for the high mountain experience, it’s safe to say the best segments of the CT are going to be stunningly scenic and satisfyingly wild. Segment 10 is about 13.6 miles. The Colorado Trail Databook (4″x 7″) is enough for most hikers. 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. Flat rocks, perfect for skipping, line the shore. …cared for by The Colorado Trail Foundation. Early September is often a great time for this portion of the CO Trail. The segments are numbered based on the official Colorado Trail Foundation’s definitions, so you can easily find more information about each in the guidebook or on the CTF website. 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. Spring Creek Pass Trailhead and parking are easily accessible on Highway 149, 17 miles from Lake City. But I’ve included what I consider to be the standout segments closer to Denver as well, since they’re often logistically simpler and easier to access for many people. 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). Alternatively, extend it by starting with segment 5, or continue past Frisco / Breck to the even more scenic segments 7 and 8. Elevation of Colorado Trail Segment 10 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. Hike the whole thing or take it in these suggested hiking-trail segments over mountains, lakes and towns. Learn more. Basically all of the Collegiate West section, denoted as segments CW1 – CW5 in the guidebook, is fabulously scenic. We learn how it all fits together by traversing it mile by mile, step by step. Here is a brief recap of these first two segments. Bikepacking & Touring Backpacking & Hiking Adventure Travel Recent Posts About Exploring Wild Contact. I think the best section of the CT is from Eddiesville TH in the La Garita's to Molas Pass but really the CT bypasses a lot of the good stuff even in the San Juans. This alone is a great reason to hike it! For those with more time, you could continue to segments 9-11. Then the CT plunges into the Elk Creek drainage in a dramatic descent to the Animas River, loosing nearly 4000 vertical feet in 8 miles. 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. The trail in its entirety represents the region’s variety in all its beauty as well as its imperfections. The trail crosses numerous streams and follows beautiful mountain brooks in some places. First enjoy seven miles of more high terrain, including some lovely alpine lakes. The easiest solution is for you and a hiking partner to shuttle a second car to your pre-determined endpoint. That’s not how it works when piecing together segments of The Colorado Trail. Section (segment) hiking is a great way to see the trail and being able to do the trail a weekend, week or more at a time. 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. I would have to walk all of it. Each one is a moderate to exceptional hike in its own right, from 11.4 miles (18.3 kilometers) to 32 miles (51.5 kilometers) in length. Trailheads: Rolling Creek/Colorado Trail (east trailhead); Kenosha Pass (west trailhead) Most of the 28 segments can be hiked within a day or two with a light pack. Trail Summary: The Colorado Trail is a 485 mile hike that starts near Denver and ends in Durango, Colorado. Georgia Pass is gentle, ascending gradually through broadly sloping tundra with wide-open views. If you’re not continuing onward toward segment 15 or completing the Collegiate Loop, this would make a good place to end your Collegiate West section hike. I don’t personally recommend this for section hikers as long as you can carry enough food. 5 GOLDEN SEGMENTS will take place in the USA, here the second : the Golden Segment Colorado open from now to October 1st, 2020. Segment 25 is easier and more forested. 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. After hiking segments 1 and 2 of the Colorado Trail, I decided to tackle one more segment that was close to home -- segment 3. 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. 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 27 includes four miles along Indian Trail Ridge that are scenic and dramatic, then a descent to Taylor Lake which is a popular camping spot. Maybe it was the developing trail legs and dwindling food weight in my backpack, but segment 5 was the first day I remember feeling excited about the views on the Colorado Trail. However, this stretch of segment 11 isn’t very scenic or interesting (it travels around the lake through a popular day use area) so I would suggest starting from the Interlaken Trailhead parking area near mile 12.2 of segment 11. The free Summit Stage bus from Breckenridge or Frisco to Gold Hill Trailhead, right on Highway 9, makes this an easy segment to access. Collegiate West technically begins around mile 13.7 of segment 11, which starts at the small town of Twin Lakes. Although these many Colorado Trail segments vary in length, they can generally be hiked in one or two days. What a great way to spend a summer at home! In general, the most breathtakingly gorgeous sections are closer to Durango, so if you want the absolute best segments on the Colorado Trail I suggest you scroll down. I’ll make a few notes about each individual segment, but really, it’s all fantastic. My trail fam and I finished segments 9, 10, and 11, but we’re now currently held up in Leadville due to the early event of heavy snowfall in Colorado. This amazing trail starts in Waterton Canyon near Denver and goes all the way to Durango. For the best backpacking on the CT or CDT in Colorado June is really quite early but depends on the snow year and spring, every day after mid-June can make a big difference though. Between the Collegiate section and segment 20 the Colorado Trail spends some quality time in lower and drier ranch land and cow pastures. Because of its sheer magnitude, it can be difficult to know where to even start when hiking the Colorado Trail. Distance from the CT: Approx. Copyright 2020 Exploring Wild, All Rights Reserved | Privacy Policy. 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. Segment 23 ranks in my personal top three days of hiking, ever. 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. See the map on our maps page for a quick look at the segments. The Colorado Trail: Segments 4 & 5. 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. This trail is best in the spring and fall when temperatures are cooler as the area can be warm in the summer months. 710 10th Street Rm 210 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. 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. 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. Ultrarunning fans will be thrilled to traverse part of the famed Leadville 100 race course in this highly scenic section. 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. (Kenosha Pass is a “road pass” not a “trail pass,” meaning it’s a high point for vehicles but not for hikers.). The Colorado Trail is 486 miles long, beginning just south of Denver and ending in Durango. 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. The trail, starting at Hotel Draw, continues south to gradually climb to treeline. Was this helpful? Section (segment) hiking is a great way to see the trail and being able to do the trail a weekend, week or more at a time. This amazing trail starts in Waterton Canyon near Denver and goes all the way to Durango. 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. You can just catch it somewhere and walk to your heart's content, or you can make a plan to walk the whole 479 miles. Mile for mile the most beautiful trail in America… My key references were the The Colorado Trail Foundation website, the Colorado Trail Databook (pocket-sized, lightweight, and a must-have for planning and as an on-trail reference), and the Colorado Trail Hiker app (as another on-trail reference). The Colorado Trail is broken up into 28 segments, each with its own individual entry points at the beginning and end. No matter which segments of the Colorado Trail you choose to hike, it’s hard to go wrong. The once ubiquitous external frame pack has all but disappeared from the Trail, replaced by lighter, more comfortable and ergonomic internal frames. The Chalk Creek section brings you to one of the best towns on the trail -- Salida. 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. Colorado Trail’s 28 Segments: Due to its immense size, the entire trail from Denver to Durango has been divided into 28 segments to help with trip planning, management and more. It’s often possible to scramble downhill off the trail to trees and lakes as needed. The trail is divided into 28 different segments, each beginning at a trailhead accessible by vehicle. Conclusions Colorado Trail Segments. Once above treeline, Indian Trail Ridge consists of … The Colorado Trail can be a life-changing experience if you let it! Most of the 28 segments can be hiked within a day or two with a light pack. The Colorado Trail can be a life-changing experience if you let it! Segments 18 and 19 can also be quite dry and traverse cattle country, making them a bit less pristine. Segments 16-17 of the Colorado Trail Updated: Oct 18, 2019 On August 16, I started hiking from Marshall Pass to the end of Segment 17 at Co Hwy 114, which is about 35 miles. The full stretch is divided into 28 segments of 11-31 miles. This 27-mile backpacking trip stretches across two of the Colorado Trail's most scenic segments - Colorado Trail Segments 20 & 21. The CDT route is located at high elevations, averaging about 10,000 feet. Dust off your backpack and spend a couple nights under the stars along this incredible portion of the Colorado Trail. Collegiate West vs. Collegiate East might be the most commonly asked question about hiking the Colorado Trail. I won’t call these the “worst” segments on the CT, because any day on the trail can be a good day in my opinion. Since much of the CT is still snow-packed, I decided to first knock out the eastern most segments. Distance: 13.2 milesElevation gain: 3674 feetElevation loss: 3053 feetOpen to bikes: yes. The stout climb to the crest of the Tenmile Range is well worth the reward. 31 miles southeast on Colorado Highway 114, which the Trail crosses near the junction of Segments 17 and 18. 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