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Backpacker Magazine – May 2010

Colorado Trail: Best Of

Find your hike on the country's highest footpath.

by: Kristy Holland

Twin Lakes. (Charlotte Geary)
Twin Lakes. (Charlotte Geary)
Animas River Valley. (Jeff Chow)
Animas River Valley. (Jeff Chow)
Mile 413 on the CT. (Jeff Chow)
Mile 413 on the CT. (Jeff Chow)
Taylor Lake. (Nathan Hebenstreit)
Taylor Lake. (Nathan Hebenstreit)

Friendliest Town Leadville
Stay at the Leadville Hostel (leadvillehostel.com, 719-486-9334). Replace gear at Sawatch Backcountry (sawatchbackcountry.com). Then grab a shredded beef taco at the cart across from Safeway—it's the hiker's choice for cheap filling, eats.

Toughest Miles Twin Lakes to Mt. Princeton Hot Springs
Rolling south across the Collegiate Peak foothills, this 40-mile stretch (see inset map) serves up the route’s loftiest mountain views. The price: 28,800 feet of knee-buckling elevation gain and loss. Trail vets say to shoot for an eight- to 12-mile-per-day average and consider adding another 11 miles (and 1,300 feet) for a detour to Missouri Basin—a perfect basecamp for bagging Mt. Belford (14,191 feet) and Mt. Oxford (14,153 feet). Spend your last night next to Cottonwood Creek near Rainbow Lake before cruising 10.5 miles south to finish with a soak in the springs.

Most Relaxing Hot Springs Chalk Creek
The 90° to 120°F natural pools in Chalk Creek at the Mt. Princeton Hot Springs ($10/person, mtprinceton.com)

Halfway Point Mile 243, just south of Fourmile Creek on Tabeguache Peak’s eastern flank




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Kathy Chavez
Jun 24, 2010

I love the Colorado Trail and I love living in Colorado. My son and I backpacked the CT two summers ago. It took us 6 weeks (I'm over 55!). We loved every section...even though there were rough moments. I also had completed the CT in sections about 5 years ago...that took me three summers. The other magic, is the CT work crews. If you are lucky enough to run into a work crew, they are wonderful...provide food and water and great company. Thanks CT Foundation.

L. Quinn
Jun 24, 2010

On behalf of the LandSharks, a group of guys and gals I'm section-hiking the Colorado Trail with, I'd like to add another "best of" - Best place for a beach party on the trail: Twin Lakes. A wide swath of sandy beach, especially when the water level is a bit down, makes for some excellent camping as well as a nice meeting spot if you have friends who want to visit you on the trail.

L. Quinn
Jun 24, 2010

On behalf of the LandSharks, a group of guys and gals I'm section-hiking the Colorado Trail with, I'd like to add another "best of" - Best place for a beach party on the trail: Twin Lakes. A wide swath of sandy beach, especially when the water level is a bit down, makes for some excellent camping as well as a nice meeting spot if you have friends who want to visit you on the trail.

Dan
Jun 17, 2010

Thanks for this article. I've been section hiking with my kids the last couple of years (gotta love living in Colorado!) Had a great snowy lightning storm in Lost Creek area this week.

debbie
Jun 17, 2010

You da man Wild Bill Clower! Thanks for your generosity. Hope to meet up with you on the trail.

Bill Manning
Jun 09, 2010

This is a great article, Backpacker Mag, thanks for compiling and publishing it. Plenty of useful tips for enjoying The Colorado Trail.

Bill Manning, Mg Dir
The Colorado Trail Foundation
www.ColoradoTrail.org

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