Best time to visit Colorado

Hiking the Colorado Trail

The longest and challenging Colorado hiking adventure

Best time: early July–mid-September

Hiking the Colorado Trail
Hiking the Colorado Trail
Hiking the Colorado Trail
Hiking the Colorado Trail
Hiking the Colorado Trail
Hiking the Colorado Trail

Colorado is a hiker's paradise, and the Colorado Trail will let you enjoy all its beauty to the fullest. It is a long-distance trail stretching for 782 km (486 miles) from Waterton Canyon southwest of Denver to Durango. Most of the trail lies above 3,000 m or 10,000 feet. Hence the season for the Colorado Trail starts only in July (some parts of it are covered with snow till late June) and runs through September. Late September is likely to bring snowstorms. So the very best time to hike Colorado Trail is early July to mid-September.

The Colorado Trail goes through eight mountain ranges, six forests, and six wilderness areas. Its highest point is 4,045 m (13,271 ft) at Coney, San Juan Mountains. While on the trail you'll see plenty of wildlife and wildflowers, and of course the views are breathtaking. The western half of The Colorado Trail, between Monarch Pass and Durango, has probably the greatest vistas and wildflowers.

Most thru-hikers start the trail in July and complete it in 4-6 weeks moving from east to west since the eastern part warms up earlier. Mountain biking is permitted along most of the trail, except for six wilderness areas where it is banned.

Practical info

What is the best time to hike the Colorado Trail?

Hiking season for the Colorado Trail stretches from early July to mid-September, which is the best time to set out on the adventure of the trail. The hike is ideal for people who like to go trekking and offers stunning scenery along the way. Snow can cover some parts of the trail until the end of June. Snowstorms can occur in late September, so it is best to avoid hiking during those times to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. Show more

How long is the Colorado Trail, and where does it start and end?

The Colorado Trail is 782km long, stretching from Waterton Canyon southwest of Denver and ending at Durango. The trail takes hikers through six forests, six wilderness areas, and eight mountain ranges, and its highest elevation point is 4,045 m (13,271 ft). Additionally, the trail is situated in some of the most picturesque locations in Colorado, giving hikers the chance to explore the state's beauty. Show more

What kind of wildlife can hikers expect to see on the trail?

The Colorado Trail provides ample opportunities to see various kinds of wildlife while hiking. These include elks, moose, mountain goats, coyotes, black bears, and bighorn sheep. Hikers can spot different birds such as hawks, eagles, and owls along the way, and there are different types of fish in the water bodies, including trout and bass, among others. Hikers must not get too close to the animals and follow safety guidelines. Show more

Is mountain biking allowed on the Colorado Trail?

Mountain biking enthusiasts can use most of the Colorado Trail for their adventures; however, the ban on cycling extends to all six wilderness areas. Cyclists need to follow the trail rules and share the path with other hikers and horseback riders. The trail’s terrain is rugged, providing mountain bikers with a challenging adventure filled with excitement. Bikers must be physically fit and mentally prepared to handle the rough terrain as they move on the trail. Show more

How long does it take to complete the Colorado Trail and what is the recommended direction for thru-hikers?

Hiking enthusiasts usually set aside 4-6 weeks to complete the Colorado Trail, although some take up to 10 weeks to savor the experience. Experienced hikers should start from the east, while inexperienced hikers should start at the west end. Hikers have to take care of their mental and physical well-being during the entire trip, and travelers on the western half of the trail get to enjoy outstanding views of wildflowers and spectacular vistas. Show more

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Authors: Olha Savych