Trip Planning & Logistics
Route Resources & Information
There is a ton of information out there on the Colorado Trail. Books to read, blogs to scour over, gear lists to research -- probably everything and 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 a termini located at Waterton Canyon in Denver and then another one located just outside of 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. It was just an older version of the map book. Also, we carried the small pocket guide to the Colorado Trail. This was, by far, the most useful tool we had. Honestly, I think we looked at our maps one time to actually figure out where we were. The trail is extremely well marked the whole way. But, still make sure to have a back up plan if you do find yourself lost.
Food & Resupplies
Resupplying along the Colorado Trail was easy. There are many different options along the whole trail. In general, hitches seemed to be easy and grocery stores easy to find. We did not send ourselves boxes anywhere along the way. See Our Trip Report to see 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 as to get to and from the trailheads at each terminus. We were lucky enough to have a few friends in Colorado that were willing to pick us up.
That is one part of this trail that is completely up to you. You can walk it any direction, 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). All the information seemed to prefer this because the terrain is definitely easier right out of Denver and more rugged as you get towards Durango. They say starting with less rugged terrain will help you build hiking strength over time. The choice is up to you. I am sure you can walk in either direction and have two very different and amazing experiences.
When to Hike
The primetime to hike the Colorado Trail is July - September. Most folks recommend that hiking past October 1 is not advisable. Start too early, and you will hit a lot of snow. Start too late, and you may get caught in an early season snow storm. We walked in the month of September and the trails seemed quieter than it might have been in peak times of July/ August. We did get caught in one early season snow storm, but we made it. Remember, this trail has been walked in all seasons and as long as you have the skill, knowledge, experience and judgement, you could hike it in any season.
Permits and Other Requirements
There are no permits for the Colorado Trail. That is a great part of this. No hassle to get off trail and get permits for a specific region. Please remember, be respectful of the land, the people and the place always. Just because you don’t need a permit doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want.