The Centennial State is home to some of the most beautiful countryside in the nation. Covering more than two-thirds of the surface of Colorado, the Rockies are a place of breathtaking beauty, where the wilderness is still very much unspoiled. For those who appreciate the scenery of the rugged Rockies or who simply love to spend their time outdoors, the U.S. Forest Service, along with a group of enthusiastic volunteers have created one of the most attractive trails in the country – the Colorado Trail.
The history of the Colorado Trail begins in 1973 when two Coloradoans come up with the idea of creating a trail that will cross the entire state, from Denver in the East to the historic town of Durango in the West. The birth of the Trail is tied to the name of Gudy Gaskill, a passionate mountaineer, who led the efforts of creating and preserving the Colorado Trail for almost three decades. With the joint efforts of the Forest Service and the Colorado Trail Foundation, the Trail gradually took shape and in 1987 the link between the two cities was complete.
The Colorado Trail has a length of 483 miles, starting from Waterton Canyon in the vicinity of Denver, and ending a few miles outside Durango. Along its way, it crosses eight major mountain ranges, seven national forests and six designated wilderness areas. The Trail cuts right through the most beautiful mountain areas of Colorado, abounding in wildlife and wildflowers.
Most of the Colorado trail has an elevation of above 10,000 feet, with the highest point being the Coney Summit in the San Juan Mountains. The route rises and falls above the timberline, although most of it is passing through forests. Historic mining towns dot the area as a legacy of the daring men and women who conquered this wild land back in the 19th century. On some portions, the Trail follows the ancient Indian treks used for hundreds of years by the Ute tribes. In other parts, like the rugged San Juan area, the landscape bears no mark of human presence.
28 segments form the Colorado Trail, ranging in length and difficulty. Every year, a few daring people attempt to complete the entire Trail in a single hike. Known as thru-hikers, they can spend up to 40 days making their way through the rough country of Western Colorado.
Those who are less inclined to adventure can go through a single segment of the route. For them the Trail is open for hiking, cross country skiing, horse riding, snow-shoeing and mountain biking. Some limitations do apply in wilderness areas, where mountain biking is forbidden, but in most areas nature lovers are free to roam. They are assisted by a comprehensive system of marking and signing, meaning that even those less experienced in mountain hiking can attempt to finish a segment on their own.
For those who love the pristine wilderness of nature, the Trial is a place where you can really get away from the noise of the cities.