Now that spring is in full effect many are preparing for longer hikes in Colorado this year. Although the snow pack is still good, it is the time to begin planning those multi-day treks through the mountains as you will want to be properly prepared when your boots meet the trailhead. Before the runoff begins, you’ll want to start linking together multiple trails, applying for permits, checking that all you gear is good, re-weather proofing outerwear, and finally replacing that tent pole that you’ve had duct taped together for two seasons. For those ambitious backpackers, here are some of top thru and scenic loop trails we can recommend for enthusiasts alike.
To kick things off, we have to start with one of the sought-after hikes in Colorado, the Chicago Basin. The Chicago Basin hike (14 Miles) requires a train ride to the meet the trailhead (they offer a backpacker discount) and once there you are met with three truly majestic 14ers in the San Juan Mountain Range. This hike could technically be done in one day if you are only looking to do the 14ers opposed to the full basin, but if you don’t make the 8 A.M. train or don’t feel like trying to be ironman, it is best done in two or three days with a 14er per day or two on the first and one on the last with reasonably timed train ride back to your car. SJMA has put together an awesome Chicago Basin Trip Planning Guide, so refer to that when you’re setting up this adventure.
Continental Divide Trail
For those hikers who don’t mind high altitude and can escape their 9-5 for a week, the Continental Divide Trail near Grand Lake, CO has you covered with 27 miles of trekking. This four to six day hike is a great late summer hike due to the above tree line altitude and length as well as boasting beautiful waterfalls and high alpine lakes throughout. This hike is known to have some of the best vista for all of Colorado and is consistent on almost all local backpackers must-do list. This challenging hike with leave you both rewarded and exhausted regardless of how you decide to break up your days.
Gore Range Trail
Our local favorite is the Gore Range Trail which begins at beautiful Copper Mountain Ski Resort and then chews you up and spits you out in the Eagle Nest Wilderness in Heeney, CO. This rugged 54-mile trail will test your mettle with countless saddle crossings, disorienting woodlands and beautiful ice cold high alpine lake to rest your sore feet. It is recommend to bring a fly rod with a few scud and caddis patterns on this trail as there are a few high alpine lakes know to hold up to 20″ cutthroat trout that rarely see an artificial fly. This trail can be done in five to seveen days and can also be shortened into a 13-mile day hike that begins at Copper Mountain Ski Resort and ends in Frisco, Colorado.
There are plenty of overnight and thru hikes in Colorado to get you into the backcountry for a good amount of time over the summer season. If you’re wanting another means of travel and you prefer not to have the brunt of your ventures be on foot, check out raft rentals with Colorado River Rentals! The river will take you further and though it’s still a taxing feat, it’s more family friendly.
*Featured image courtesy of Next Adventure Company.