Trip Planning & Logistics
Route Resources & Information
There is a ton of information out there on the Colorado Trail. Books to read, blogs to scour, gear lists to research -- probably anything you could want to know about it. The main thing that we found beneficial was the Colorado Trail Foundations online resources. We did not do much research past there. In short, the Colorado Trail is around 500 miles across the state. It has termini located at Waterton Canyon near Denver and Junction Creek in Durango.
Maps & Navigation
We carried a set of paper maps that were given to us by a friend who did the Colorado Trail years ago. They seemed to be accurate enough -- just an older version of the map book. We also carried the small pocket guide to the Colorado Trail. This was by far the most useful tool we had. Honestly, we looked at our maps maybe once to actually figure out where we were. The trail is extremely well marked the whole way. Still, its important to have maps and a back up plan just in case you do get lost.
Food & Resupplies
Resupplying along the Colorado Trail felt easy. There are many different options along the whole trail. In general, hitches were quick and grocery stores were straightforward to find. We did not send ourselves boxes anywhere along the way. See Our Trip Report for exactly where and how we resupplied.
In general, transportation along the trail was simple. As stated above, hitchhiking was fairly dependable, even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. The foundation has some good information on their website on how to get to the trailheads at each terminus. We were lucky enough to have a few friends in Colorado that were willing to pick us up.
You can walk this trail in any direction. You can flip flop it or do it in segments over time. Most of the information we read recommended hiking the trail from Denver to Durango (Southbound/Westbound). The sources we found seemed to prefer this because the terrain is definitely easier right out of Denver and more rugged as you get closer to Durango. They say starting with less rugged terrain will help you build hiking strength over time. The choice is up to you. Surely you can walk in either direction and have two very different and amazing experiences.
When to Hike
The best time to hike the Colorado Trail is July - September. Most folks recommend against hiking past October 1st. Start too early, and you will hit a lot of snow. Start too late, and you may get caught in an early season snowstorm too. We walked in the month of September and the trail seemed quieter than it might have been in peak season. We did have to wait out one early season storm, but we made it. This trail has been walked in all seasons -- as long as you have the skill and experience you could hike it in any season.
There are no permits for the Colorado Trail. Please remember to be respectful of the land, the people, and the place always!