The Colorado Trail (CT)
Looking for the ultimate backcountry tour of Colorado? This is it. The Colorado Trail (CT) traverses fields of wildflowers, misty valleys, and craggy mountain passes, while meandering through historic mining towns and following ancient Indian trails. You’ll be in the presence of elk, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats in a world that still resembles the wild, wild west. Yee-haw.
- 483 miles (782 km)
- Denver to Durango
- Average elevation: 10,000 feet
- 8 mountain ranges
- 7 national forests
- 6 wilderness areas
- 5 river basins
- Thru-hikers experience about 89,000 feet of elevation change
- High point: 13,271 feet
- Low Point: 5,500 feet
- Permitted to equestrians and mountain bikers outside of wilderness areas
- Coincides with the Continental Divide Trail for 235-ish miles
- Established in 1987
- The Colorado Trail Foundation (CTF) is responsible for organizing the small army of volunteers that maintain and protect the CT.
- Blackwoods Press has created a four-ounce pocket atlas that includes detailed maps of the entire trail, water source information, and a town guide.
- Guthook’s GPS app can be downloaded for both iPhone and Android mobile devices.
- The CTF revises their guidebook annually. This is a great aid for trip planning.
- You may consider taking the Collegiate West alternate, between Twin Lakes and Monarch pass. This reroute is higher in elevation, closer to the Continental Divide, and far more scenic than it’s eastern counterpart. It’s also much more exposed, so use good judgement when deciding whether to go east or west through the Collegiate Mountains. Latitude 40’s Salida – Buena Vista Topographical Map depicts the reroute with great accuracy.