The Colorado Trail is a long-distance trail running for 486 miles from the mouth of Waterton Canyon southwest of Denver to Durango in Colorado, United States. Its highest point is 13,271 feet above sea level, and most of the trail is above 10,000 feet. Despite its high elevation, the trail often dips below the alpine timberline to provide refuge from the exposed, storm-prone regions above.
The Colorado Trail was built and is currently maintained by the non-profit Colorado Trail Foundation and the United States Forest Service, and was connected in 1987.
The Colorado Trail is an established, marked, and mostly non-motorized trail open to hikers, horse riders, and bicyclists. From the eastern terminus at Waterton Canyon, southwest of Denver, the trail winds its way for 486 miles through the state's most mountainous regions, ending about 3.5 miles north of Durango. Along the way, it passes through eight mountain ranges, six National Forests, and six wilderness areas.
Trail elevations range from a low of about 5,500 feet at the Denver end of the trail to a high of 13,271 feet on the slopes of Coney in the San Juan Mountains. The trail rises and falls dramatically. A hiker traversing the entire length of the trail will gain (and lose) about 89,000 vertical feet. The trail passes through what is considered to be some of the state's most beautiful country. Wildlife abounds and wildflowers, in season, are abundant. While much of the trail passes through forests, a good portion of it reaches above the timberline, where trees are unable to grow and views are breathtaking.
The trail passes through historic mining towns, along ancient Native American trails, and through a modern, world-class ski resort. Other sections appear much as they would have 500 years ago. The western half of The Colorado Trail, between Monarch Pass and Durango, has less human influence, greater vistas, and a display of spectacular wildflowers.
For 235 miles, The Colorado Trail runs concurrently with the Continental Divide Trail along the Collegiate East route. The Colorado Trail follows the Continental Divide Trail for 80 miles more on the Collegiate West route.