With its snowcapped peaks, enormous vistas, and abundance of high altitude trails Colorado has one of the world’s most exceptionally breathtaking landscapes. The hiking here in Colorado is some of the best on the planet, and few trails in the entire state are better than the Colorado Trail. In reality, this 486-mile trail is comprised of numerous trails—all of which link together to form the epically scenic thru-hike. Beginning outside Denver in Waterton Canyon at 5,500 feet, the Colorado Trail climbs to over 13,271 feet on the highest point on the trail. Most of the trail averages over 10,000 feet, and aside from creating some strong legs and lungs, offers views of eight different mountain ranges and numerous national forests.
For visitors to Denver with only a single day to go hiking, the first section of the Colorado Trail is a popular choice for a day trip. The trail is open for hiking, biking, fishing, and horseback riding—although no dogs are allowed on the trail since it’s common to find Big Horn Sheep. While you can hike for as long or as little as you please, the full day hike to Strontia Springs Dam is 12.4 miles, measured roundtrip, and is considered one of the best day hikes in Denver. Or, for what’s sure to be the adventure of the lifetime, arrange a car to drop you at Waterton with a pack, a tent, and some food—and then set off on foot for Durango, Colorado nearly 500 miles away.
The trail’s starting point in Waterton Canyon is approximately one hour southwest of Denver. The best season for hiking is from June-September, although severe weather and even snow are possible at any time of year. Nearly all through-hikers begin on the eastern end of the trail, and take an average of 40 days to complete the entire trip.