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The Colorado Trail Durango, Colorado is host to one of the most famous contiguous trails in the state, the Colorado Trail.  This monster winds its way from Denver to Durango covering almost 500 miles through some of the most amazing back country in America.  The trail was conceived in 1973 and in 1987 the final sections were linked together making it complete. Now hundreds of people throughout the state can enjoy being in the outdoors and have access to recreational activities along its paths (The Colorado Trail Foundation, 2011). How long is the Colorado Trail? Many people ask how far the trail is and how long it will take to hike or  ride from Denver to Durango and the short answer is, "it depends".  It depends on trail management, course modifications, weather conditions and much more.  But in general it is about 486 miles for hikers and about 540 miles for mountain bikers (The Colorado Trail Foundation, 2013). The average elevation gain for hikers is 89,354 feet from beginning to end.  The average hiker can complete the trek supported in about four to six weeks and mountain bikers can hammer it out in about ten to fourteen days.  There is a mountain bike race where competitors have completed the entire trip in four days (Colorado Trail Race, 2011)!  Crazy! Why travel from Denver to Durango? People also ask why it is more popular to travel from Denver to Durango and not the reverse.  While you can travel west to east if you like the answer to the question is, SNOW. The high mountain snowpack tends to melt off earlier to the east and some sections can be impassable if it has not had a chance to melt.  It tends to linger in the mountains and one of the highest points that you cross is Coney Summit which is a heart pounding 13,200 feet!  This summit is located on segment 22 of CT near Lake City.  Coney Summit is part of the San Juan Mountain Range which generally tend to melt off later in the season than the mountains closer to Denver.
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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.  Convenient access points to the trail originally determined where segments would begin and end.  Most of the 28 segments can be hiked within a day or two with a light pack.  This immense trail traverses across several national forests, wilderness areas, towns and even major highways.  If you are planning to make a trip of the entire trail, the Official Guidebook of the Colorado Trail Foundation is a very valuable resource offering good in-depth descriptions of every segment from Denver all the way to Durango.  This book is also very useful for day hikes and short pack trips.
Colorado Trail:  Segment 24 to Segment 28  Our neck of the woods (near Durango) includes the southern most end of the Colorado Trail.  The trail actually ends just a few miles outside of Durango’s city limits.  Our online interactive maps focus on the last 4 segments of the Colorado trail from Stony Pass East of Silverton, Colorado to its end at the Junction Creek trailhead just outside of Durango, Colorado.  There is an overall map that covers segment 24 to 28, in addition to individual maps of each of these 4 segment listed below. Segment 24:  Stony Pass to Molas Pass o Distance:  approximately 20 miles o Weminuche Wilderness:  NO Bicycling Segment 25:  Molas Pass to Bolam Pass Road o Distance:  approximately 21 miles o Bicycling Allowed Segment 26:  Bolam Pass Road to Hotel Draw Road o Distance:  approximately 11 miles o Bicycling Allowed Segment 27:  Hotel Draw Road to Kennebec Trailhead o Distance:  approximately 21 miles o Bicycling Allowed Segment 28:  Kennebec Trailhead to Junction Creek Trailhead o Distance:  approximately 22 miles o Bicycling Allowed Durango, Colorado is lucky enough to sit at the Southwestern end of one of the most spectacular trails in America. We have just provided some general information on the last four sections that are closest to Durango and includes some items specific to each. You can use the drop down menu above to look at information on the sections which can help you plan a trip.  For the outdoor enthusiast the Colorado Trail offers a wide variety activities with easy access points which make it a very popular destination for visitors. People come from all over the world to enjoy day hikes, back packing, rock climbing, mountain climbing, camping, fishing, hunting, horseback riding, Nordic Skiing and snow shoeing. Areas along the Colorado Trail are also some of the best places in the world for geology studies with history written in the stone waiting for you to read. Some of the best picture opportunities in the world await photographers with plenty of wildlife and scenic beauty to focus on.  With this much to offer one might think that the CT would be as crowded as a rush hour freeway but this is not usually the case. Its immense size allows people to disperse quickly and while some of the easy access parking areas tend to fill up on holidays the trail is still fairly clear.  Another thing visitors notice is how clean the trails are and how respectful most of the people utilizing them are. We care. Pack in pack out matters a lot and many individuals do their part in not throwing trash and pick up trash that they do find.  The last four sections are considered by many to be the most arduous and challenging parts of the almost 500 mile long trail. The last three sections from Little Molas Lake to Durango is about 75 miles of incredible mountain biking and usually takes a good rider two days!  The individual segments allow visitors to choose an end to start from and help decide how far they might want to go. A good day hike can be an "out and back" where you follow the trail for a ways at your own pace and ability level and then go back the way you came. It allows you to explore sections and expand your knowledge of the area for future use. This can also be a good way to introduce children or people new to hiking to the activity without it becoming too much of a "trudge through the tundra.. mile after mile."  For Durango, the Colorado trail has become an icon and draws people in from all over the world that want to see what being in the mountains is all about. The views over vast distances, carpets of wildflowers, huge mountain peaks and incredible waterfalls. All of which is available along one winding trail. The Colorado Trail.  For volunteer information on helping to keep this trail one of Colorado’s crowning jewels please visit:  The Colorado Trail Foundation 
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Colorado Trail:  What the Southern Section has to offer! 
Buena Vista
Copper Mountain
Lake City
Weminuche Wilderness
Garita Wilderness
Collegiate Peaks Wilderness
Mt. Massive Wilderness
Holy Cross Wilderness
Lost Creek Wilderness
Segment of CT
Wilderness Area
City or Town
Enjoy week-long pack trips?   Colorado Mountain Expeditions offers 5 day planned pack-trips along the Colorado Trail, ensuring that your hiking adventure is safe and highly enjoyable.    “You hike it... We haul it! Supported and guided week-long treks on the Colorado Trail-Owned and operated by Chris and Jeanne Szczech.” For more information and booking please visit:  Colorado Mountain Expeditions