The Collegiate West Route
It’s hard to believe that just last month I was celebrating the fact that the snow was almost all melted off the Collegiate Peaks. Now, in August we have had a couple storms bringing a layer of fresh snow back onto them!
As an avid hiker and backpacker, I am so excited to share the Colorado Trail with you! If you haven’t checked it out already, the Colorado Trail runs about 486 miles from Denver to Durango, CO. I find the Colorado Trail unique because while most of it has a wilderness feel, it is extremely accessible! It runs through, or close to many towns across the state and is already split up into designated segments.
So why is this so spectacular?
It makes it easy to spend as little or as long as you want to on the Colorado Trail. Lucky for us, about 6 of the 28 segments, and all the beautiful, high alpine, Collegiate West route are a relatively short drive from Buena Vista.
I would also consider the Colorado Trail to still be a hidden gem. While you will run into some other hikers while you’re out there, you won’t see the crowds that swarm to the Appalachian Trail each year.
Here are 3 of my favorite ways to enjoy the Colorado Trail:
Taking day hikes on the CO Trail is a great way for busy people to escape and enjoy the outdoors, just for one day, and with very minimal gear. Since the Trail is already split up in to segments, which all start and end at road crossings or trailheads it makes it pretty easy to just pick a trailhead or intersection near you and head out for the day. I personally love to go out and start hiking from any of the CO Trail trailheads off of CR 306. CR 306 is a short drive from downtown Buena Vista and is also known for the Cottonwood Hot Springs and the beautiful Cottonwood Pass and Continental Divide.
Heading out for multiple days and completing longer sections at once is great for hikers who can take some time off (or even just a weekend!) and who have all the appropriate overnight gear for backpacking. Again, the designated segments of the trail are perfect for weekend warriors because many of the sections are about 20 miles, or you can string a few segments together for a slightly longer trip. I’ve done some shorter overnight trips around the Leadville area and have always had a wonderful time in the ‘off season’ so we didn’t run into too many other hikers.
Through hiking means hiking the entire CO Trail, from end to end, in a single trip. (With some rest days thrown in there too!) This is a definitely a dream of mine, and many others. Through hiking is not only an amazing challenge for your mind and body, but traveling by foot through Colorado is an amazing way to experience the state and all it has to offer. You get to see things, do things, and meet people you would never have even seen if you were zooming by in a car.
I hope you get to experience any (or every) part of the Colorado Trail and some of the little trail towns along the way, like Buena Vista, CO!