The Colorado Trail just got a little more spectacular with the addition of an 80-mile segment through the Collegiate Peaks.
The addition creates a 160-mile loop that The Colorado Trail Foundation expects to become a popular multi-day hike or ride among a dozen of the state’s 14,000-foot mountains.
The new segment does not add length to the current 486-mile Colorado Trail between Denver and Durango but gives hikers an alternative western route along the Collegiate Peaks. The trail winds near Twin Lakes southwest of Leadville, south of Monarch Pass and continues southwest of Salida.
“The 80 mile addition is an existing trail that was part of the Continental Divide Trail,” said Bill Manning, the Executive Director of The Colorado Trail Foundation. “The two trails share other milage. Our organization and volunteers are going to begin maintaining that additional 80 miles.”
The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail System runs 3,000 miles from Mexico to Canada. Much of the 80-mile segment being adopted by the Colorado Trail now follows old logging and mining roads and will be rerouted and rehabilitated as part of a multi-year project by volunteer crews from The Colorado trail Foundation, U.S. Forest Service, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, Southwest Conservation Corps and inmates from the Buena Vista Correctional Facility.
The trail will be open to hikers, bikers and horse riders and provides ample access to new countryside to day hikers.
Manning said adding the 80 miles of trail will enable his Foundation to improve educational materials about the trail system.
“We will, as able, publish new addition books that highlight both routes and the options hikers will have,” Manning said.
The trail will cross some iconic country, taking hikers over the infamous Hope Pass that has challenged thousands of runners in the Leadville 100 Trail Race.
Loop hikers will have ample access points along the east or west trail as well as resupply points at Twin Lakes, Mount Princeton Hot Springs, Monarch Pass, Salida and Buena Vista.
The new segment will not increase the distance for through hikers. Manning added that people who hike the 486 miles between Denver to Durango will be eligible for “completers” certificates regardless of which Collegiate route they take.