Featured HIKING TRAILS
East of Durango, a nice section of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail follows the San Juans from Wolf Creek Pass to Spring Creek Pass (120 miles). A perfect time of year to try this hiking route is in August when it should be snow free and there should still be some wildflowers.
Longs Peak is a classic Colorado 14er hike with 4,800 feet of climbing over 16 miles. As usual, the afternoon storms are reliable and fierce, so start early (3:00 am). The first couple miles wind through dryland pine forest along Alpine Brook before ascending above the treeline into alpine. Make sure you're at the Keyhole by around 7 am. If there's not an ice free route past here, don't bother to continue going up.
Southwest of Aspen, the 29 mile Maroon Bells Loop is a challenging hiking trek mainly above 11,000 feet crossing four alpine passes above 12,000. This 4-5 day route is best traversed clockwise and starts from Maroon Lake. These Elk Mountains have seen a resurgence of the protected Lynx.
Northwest of Buena Vista, the 168,000 acre Collegiate Peak Wilderness has a diverse 22 mile loop which combines Pine Creek Trail, Frenchman Creek Trail and a stretch of the Colorado Trail. The circuit passes through secluded forest and alpine tundra in the shadow of several 14ers and ranges from 8,400 feet to 13,000 feet.
Northwest of Fort Collins in the Poudre Canyon area, the Flowers Trail is a 15 mile one-way route climbing from 8,880 feet to 11,320 feet. This former wagon route enters the Comanche Peak Wilderness after the first couple miles and intersects several other trails.
East of Durango and northeast of Pagosa Springs in the Weminuche Wilderness Area, the Rainbow Trail leads to scenic hot springs pool. There are two man-made, sandy-bottom pools in the rock beside the river perfect for soaking in. While this strenuous 4 mile trek in through scenic wilderness, it is very popular and can be quite crowded on the weekends. Matter of fact, expect plenty of campers near the springs.
East of Durango and north of Bayfield, the Pine River Trail is a very scenic hike into the Weiuminichi Wilderness along the Los Pinos River (aka Pine River). The trail has many side trails for a varied experience. The trailhead is located north of Bayfield and northeast of Vallecito Reservoir.
Northwest of Denver and southwest of Estes Park, the Glacier Creek Trail is a breath-taking 10 mile round trip hike up Glacier Gorge to Black Lake. The narrow Glacier Gorge is known for peaks rising 3,000-4,000 feet above. Black Lake is an alpine tarn situated in a glacial cirque at the base of McHenrys Peak.
North of Crested Butte, the Yule Trail is an 11 mile route across rugged high alpine ridges over Yule Pass and down to the Marble townsite. The loose scree trail starts from Paradise Divide at 11,200 feet on the shoulder of Cinnamon Mountain and winds up to Yule Pass (11,800) on a very narrow rocky trail with steep dropoffs. The vista to the south is amazing of Purple Mountain, Augusta Mountain and Mineral Point.
West of Fort Collins and east of Walden, the 71,000 acre Colorado State Forest State Park has 70 miles of non-motorized trails through unaltered forest, jagged peaks and alpine lakes. There are a variety of hiking trails that lead to Ruby Jewel Lake, Kelly Lake, Clear Lake, Agnes Lake and American Lakes. The American Lakes Trail is a 5 mile one-way route leading from forest to meadow to alpine tundra with spectacular views of spire peaks and on into the Rocky Mountain National Park.
North of Crested Butte and Gothic, the Copper Lake Trail is a breathtaking trail along Copper Creek in the Maroon Bells Wilderness boundary. The trail ends at the scenic Copper Lake under the shadow of Whiterock Mountain to the south. The lake has 8 designated campsites, first-come, first-serve (no campfires permitted).
Northwest of Fort Collins in the Poudre Canyon area, the Killpecker Trail is a 4.2 mile one-way route climbing from 9,180 feet to 10,920 feet. The trail ascends from Deadman Road to the Bald Mountain Jeep Trail at Middle Bald Mountain. It is easy to lose the trail in the logged-over area, so follow the Forest Service markers.
Northwest of Fort Collins in the Poudre Canyon area, the Mount Margaret Trail (#167) is a 4 mile one-way route at 8,000 feet. This trail can also be accessed from the Dowdy Lake Campground. It is popular with hikers but shared with mountain bikers. The elevation of Mt. Margaret is 7,957 feet. The last part of the trail is marked with cairns.
Southwest of Aspen, the East Maroon Creek Trail is a 9 mile route to East Maroon Pass within the Maroon Bells Wilderness. The trail climbs from 8,750 feet at the trailhead to 11,800 feet at the pass. While the trail ends at the pass, the Copper Creek Trail continues down the west side past the scenic Copper Lakes and leads to Judd Falls near the Gothic townsite.
Southwest of Aspen, the Conundrum Creek Trail is a 10 mile route leading past the popular Conundrum Hot Springs on the way up to Triangle Pass. The trail starts at 8,770 feet at the trailhead and climbs, slowly at first, to 12,990 feet at the pass. Beyond the pass, a difficult to follow trail continues down the other side through a loose, rocky scree field dropping 1,500 feet over 2 miles to Copper Lakes.
Near Silverthorne in the Dillon Ranger District, the Gore Range Trail runs the north-south length of the Dillon Ranger District portion of the Eagles Nest Wilderness (please respect all regulations within the wilderness). The trail is 44.97 miles in length and has various access points. The highest point on the trail is 11,732 feet. Difficulty of this trail ranges from easy to more difficult depending on the section hiked.