The Colorado Trail, Denver to Durango

/ Routes / USA /
  • Distance

    539 Mi.

    (867 KM)
  • Days


  • % Unpaved


  • % Singletrack


  • Difficulty (1-10)


  • % Rideable (time)


  • Total Ascent


    (22,098 M)
  • High Point


    (4,045 M)
The Colorado Trail is one of the longest, more arduous, yet most rewarding bikepacking routes in the US. During a small window in the summer, the snow clears to unveil an epic high altitude through-ride on some of the best trails in the Rocky Mountains. In fact, at over 500 miles in length, the Colorado Trail packs more sublime singletrack than you're ever likely to have ridden in one sitting...
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The Colorado Trail is one of the premier, long distance bikepacking trails in the US. It travels through the incredible Colorado Rocky Mountains amongst peaks, glacial lakes, creeks, and a spectacular array of ecosystems. The trail dramatically rises and falls with an average elevation of 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) and tops out above 13,000 feet (3,962 meters), just below Coney Summit. It is a through route, or point-to-point, stretching almost 500 miles from the dusty southern Colorado town of Durango, to Denver (Littleton to be exact). It is commonly ridden in the opposite direction, however the 2015 Colorado Trail Race used the south to north course.

The Colorado Trail flows through eight mountain ranges, six wilderness areas, five major river systems, and six National Forests. Bicycles are prohibited in each of the six Wilderness Areas; it is against federal regulations. Thru-cyclists are required to detour around each of the Wilderness areas.


We’ve awarded this route a 9 as it’s undoubtedly one of the harder long distance bikepacking routes on the site. Trail conditions are often technical, with steep, rocky, rooty climbs and numerous thrilling, babyhead strewn or staircase-like descents. Elsewhere, the going is easier; much of the route is characterised by flowy singletrack and gravel roads. Although resupply points are well endowed, the journey between them is often extremely remote. There’s altitude to contend with and storms in the summer monsoon season; the latter requires strategic planning and an understanding of the terrain ahead. Depending on the time of year, water is relatively easily sourced, which takes one logistical piece out of the puzzle.

Allow between 8-18 days for the trip, depending on your pace and skill level. Given that the most popular time to ride the Colorado Trail is during the summer – home to the monsoon season – pace will often be dictated by afternoon storms, so factor this into your timing and make sure you’re below treeline when one hits. This is particularly the case in the second half of the ride – from Spring Creek to Durango,where the weather tends to be most variable and there are long sections of above treeline exposure. Allocating two weeks to complete the ride provides a buffer for inclement weather, the opportunity to sample the products of the many breweries along the way, take some half days off, enjoy a good campspot, swim in rivers, and maybe even pause to fish along the way. More rest makes for fresher legs… which results in the trail being more rideable and enjoyable than it might otherwise be! At the other end of the spectrum, there are those who ride the CT straight through, with barely a break… the current record for the Colorado Trail Race is held by Jesse Jakomait, with a blistering time of 3 days, 20 hours and 47 minutes.


Hike-a-bikes are part and parcel of the Colorado Trail experience. As a rough approximation, we consider the trail to be over 90 per cent rideable – note that this is in time, rather than mileage. But appreciate that this will vary greatly between riders, depending on their skillset, how much gear they are carrying, the freshness of their legs, the weather, and how well acclimatised they are (see comments below). Although numerous, for the most part hike-a-bikes on the CT are relatively short, though there are a number of longer stretches to contend with too – be comfortable pushing or carrying your bike. Heading in a westerly direction, the second half of the ride, from Buena Vista to Durango, broadly speaking features more challenging terrain, with riding that becomes increasingly rocky and more technical. But it’s easy to let the mind dwell on what’s not rideable… just remember that for the vast majority of the time, the Colorado Trail’s singletrack is incredibly flowy, fast, rambunctious, and fun!

See Trail Notes for an overview of each section between resupply points. Note that the Ride With GPS map below includes main resupply points and some key water sources along the way. However, The Colorado Trail Databook is well worth carrying, as it breaks the ride down in manageable segments, listing resupply points, water access, campsites, and passes.

Post updated by Cass Gilbert in July 2017.

  • Highlights


  • Must Know


  • Camping


  • Food/H2O


  • Trail Notes


  • Resources


  • Unmatched, pristine, high-altitude singletrack. And miles and miles of it!
  • Dazzling displays of wildflowers in the spring and early summer. Insane fall colors in late Sept.
  • Traversing a rich diversity of alpine scenery, high desert, grasslands, and interesting mountain towns.
  • Fun, quirky, and history-rich resupply points, like Leadville and Silverton.
  • Beautiful campspots and rivers to cool off in.
  • Visiting breweries along the way – the CT isn’t just about riding!
  • Snow is the biggest factor on deciding when to attempt the CT. Most years the snow has melted by early July making it possible to pass in its entirety from July-September. However, it is not uncommon to experience a stray snow early or late in the season. Expect lingering snow fields if riding at the beginning of the season.
  • Weather is another major consideration. During the prime riding season, it is also monsoon season and it’s fairly common to experience rain, hail, and severe lightening. Prepare accordingly. Plan to be off high passes and below treeline by mid afternoon.
  • Temperatures can take a dramatic swing at higher elevations. Prepare for chilly temps at night, especially in late September. A 24 degree (-5c) bag is not a bad idea. The less your body works to stay warm at night the better rest you will get.
  • Bear in mind that as the days go on, fatigue is likely to set in – so plan for your food and distances accordingly.
  • The Colorado Trail has an average elevation of over 10,000 feet (3,048 meters), which shouldn’t be taken lightly. Plan ahead and if you are traveling from a location at a lower altitude – if headed east, take a few day rides from Durango to help acclimatise.
  • There is a high amount of daily elevation gain, coupled with hike-a-bikes (generally short but sometimes extended), so running a light rig will really help
  • The Colorado Trail is well signposted. However, it’s extremely important to carry a GPS/paper maps of some kind, to help navigate the Wilderness Detours, and to offer bail-out options in the event of accidents or emergencies.
  • Mosquitos can be an issue in some areas. If using a meshless tarp, bring some mosquito spray.
  • The Colorado Trail Databook is highly recommended, both to support work on the Colorado Trail and to provide in depth information relating to passes, water points, and camping spot.
  • Recommended bike: The train can be extremely rocky and demanding in places. Given its length, a front suspension is highly recommended, along with the widest tires you can fit. Both full suspension and a Plus-sized hardtail makes ideal options for riding Colorado Trail bike; the latter is especially appealing as it offers framebag space, comfort, and is extremely capable over challenging terrain – all requirements in a bike for enjoying the CT.
  • Given the steep climbs and number of hike-a-bikes, running a light rig is key, as is appropriate gearing to help with the high altitude riding. It’s probably best not to carry a water bottle under the downtube, to make portaging easier.
  • Wondering what to take? See this post for a suggested packlist.
  • Although resupply points are relatively frequent, there are several remote and challenging sections, including the moto trail through Sargeant’s Mesa and the alpine trails to Silverton. Make sure you carry enough food.
  • Consider hopping onto the paved climb to Monarch Pass if you want to ride the entire Monarch Crest Trail (amazing singletrack). The other bonus is that you will miss the hike-a-bike along Fooses Creek Trail and have the opportunity to eat at the cafe at the top of Monarch Pass.
  • It’s a good idea to wear bright colors if traveling later in the year, as hunting season begins.
  • There is both a multitude of wild camping options and designated campsites available throughout the route. The Colorado Trail Databook has each campground noted, and most are maintained by the Colorado Trail Foundation.
  • There is also lodging available in most of the towns passed along the way, from hostels to motels – in Silverton Blair Street Hostel comes recommended as does the Hinsdale Yurt ($20 in the summer) en route to Silverton.
  • The main resupply points on route are Breckenridge/Frisco, Leadville, Buena Vista, and Silverton. Brekenridge is slightly closer to the trail but Frisco offers a wider selection of options, including Natural Grocers and Wholefoods. For riders aiming to complete the route in around two weeks, there will be maximum of 3-4 days between resupplies, the longest being between Waterford TH and Brek/Frisco, and Buena Vista and Silverton.
  • The Stagestop Saloon – serving burgers and beer (there’s a small convenience store attached) makes a welcome bonus resupply point on the long stint between Denver and Breckenridge/Frisco.
  • If you’re dodging a storm, Copper Mountain’s resort has a decent grocery store, plus coffee/donuts.
  • If you’re headed from Durango to Denver, note that Princeton Hot Springs has a very well stocked market, which will be the first chance to resupply since Silverton.
  • Additional, smaller resupply towns are Teryall, Copper, and Princeton Hot Springs. Do proper research as to what is available and when.
  • The hardest stretch without resupply is between Buena Vista and Silverton. It includes both the challenging Sargeants Mesa segment and extended high alpine terrain leading to the highest point of the ride. Pack smart!
  • Water is readily available for most of the route, but there are some legs and times of the year where this may be more challenging, such as the Lost Creek detour, which is relatively hot and dry. As a general rule of thumb, study the data book or your topo map, keep a sharp eye out for creeks and springs, and bring a filtration system. For the most part, 2-3 bottles will be sufficient on a day to day basis – in the wetter, San Juans, less – with the capacity (eg a spare bladder) to carry more when required.
  • Possible water strategy: Carry a Steripen as a means of quickly purifying your primary and secondary water bottle as necessary. Drink a bottle at each creek that you’re thirsty at, and refill immediately. Fill your third bottle for when distances are longer between creeks. This will save considerable weight and ensure you stay hydrated. 

Trail Notes for riding from Denver to Durango, unless otherwise notes.

Waterton TH to Breck/Frisco

  • Georgia Pass has excellent views. Great riding in both directions. Avoid highway 285 (via Bailey) if traveling east to west as there’s heavy vehicular traffic and no shoulder. The recommended Lost Creek Wilderness Detour involves a lengthy pavement stretch, but it’s quiet and scenic. This detour and be hot and dry. Although Breck is a popular resupply point, Frisco offers a wider variety of food, including healthy options like Natural Grocers and Whole Foods. From there, the trail can be rejoined via the steep and rocky Miners Creek Road. Note that you can also begin in Denver and ride a bike path all the way to the TH at Waterton TH. There are no major hike-a-bikes in this section, just occasional pushes.

Breck/Frisco to Leadville

  • The main hike-a-bike in this section is up to the scenic Gold Hill, which features steep sections and is likely tro trap late snow, and the ensuing 10 Mile Range. There are further smaller hike a bikes en route to Searle and Kokomo passes.

Leadville to Buena Vista

  • Easy, mostly dirt roads with a section of pavement. Singletrack sections around Twin Lakes are a blast! Both these towns offer good breweries, a mountain vibe, and plenty of food. No major hike-a-bikes.

BV to Silverton

  • Hardest section by far, so plan your food wisely. There is a tough hike-a-bike to Foose Creek (possible detour up to Monarch Pass, see Need to Know) and Sargeants Mesa, after Marshal Pass can be hot and slow going, following a rough moto trail. Later, the La Garita Wilderness detour can be relatively dry. The high alpine traverse to Silverton is beautiful but challenging, and involves numerous hike-a-bikes of different lengths -the most hike-a-bikes of the entire CT is in this segment. For rideability purposes, an easier alternative involves dropping down to Pole Creek and then climbing up Stony Pass – the old CT route. Although this misses out some fantastic views, it avoids many of the hike-a-bikes, with a similar amount of overall climbing.

Silverton to Durango

  • Arguably the best views of the route. Amazing descent into Durango – Indian Ridge is the highlight of the segment. A few short, chunky hike-a-bikes to contend with but largely rideable.


  • For the most part, the Colorado Trail is very well marked. However, The Trailside Databook is a must-have for a breakdown of each segment with mileages, elevations, water spots and camp spots. Note – data book gives directions for Denver to Durango, requiring extra brain power going opposite direction. And it doesn’t cover the Wilderness detours, so you’ll need a map/navigation app or GPS for this.

Terms of Use: As with each bikepacking route guide published on, should you choose to cycle this route, do so at your own risk. Prior to setting out check current local weather, conditions, and land/road closures. While riding, obey all public and private land use restrictions and rules, carry proper safety and navigational equipment, and of course, follow the #leavenotrace guidelines. The information found herein is simply a planning resource to be used as a point of inspiration in conjunction with your own due-diligence. In spite of the fact that this route, associated GPS track (GPX and maps), and all route guidelines were prepared under diligent research by the specified contributor and/or contributors, the accuracy of such and judgement of the author is not guaranteed. LLC, its partners, associates, and contributors are in no way liable for personal injury, damage to personal property, or any other such situation that might happen to individual riders cycling or following this route.

  • Super gorgeous! We’ve been hoping to incorporate this route into our fall travels, so this is well timed! And damn, Devon, those are some inspiring photos.

  • How and when is decided what direction the race will take?

  • Heading out to Denver on 24 August to ride this with a friend, so this is timely, indeed. Those photos are beautiful.

  • Gunther, I am not sure how, but as you can see on this page, they change the course slightly most years:

  • Nice! I thought I saw you mention that somewhere…

  • I alternate between being excited and scared…! We are a little late in the season I think, but hopefully won’t suffer too much with weather. I expect that we’ll be on the slower end of the timescales, and we actually have three weeks before our flight out. What I don’t feel I have a grasp of yet is how easy food resupplies will be. We’re not planning on bringing much with us from the UK, so will need to stock up for the first few days when we arrive. Thats ok, but I think I need to study the trail guide some more to understand how many miles we’re going to need to cover before we can restock… Any more advice on ease of resupply would be great!

  • Both legitimate feelings! I’ve only rode a small chunk of it near Durango; it was amazing. There are a few resupply points noted in both the map and text above. There is a gap though; Devon may provide a few more markers, but if not the Trail Databook should have some additional insight. Shoot me some resupply waypoints when you get back! I think the more I could add to that GPX, the better.

  • I just re-looked at the resupply section and that is all good info. I do have the Databook and main Trail guide. We will hopefully take some time to visit Salida as well. Now just need to pare down my stuff to the bare minimum…!

  • dave

    Did the eastern half last year, and thought the food resupply logistics were generally OK. I would advise getting a second to-go meal at every restaurant you eat at–simple way to get huge calories. I remember being incredibly happy after eating a couple burgers + fries + etc. at Kay’s Burgers and packing two or three more burgers to go. They didn’t last four hours. My experience on the Tarryall detour was that food and water was tough to come by, so take advantage of every chance you get. The places in the guidebook for that part were mostly closed, and we ended up begging some water and food from people car-camping. If I were a racer and moved faster, probably would’ve been a non-issue.

  • dave

    They’ve started swapping the direction back and forth every year.

  • Mike

    Beautiful looking route and fantastic photos. However, I don’t even want to know what that guy is mixing that goo packet with in his jetboil.

  • What happens on the CT, stays on the CT. ;)

  • Thats good to hear Dave. How many miles were you covering in a day?

  • (Will try to record some details of resupply points for you!)

  • Skyler, most of the western part of the route stands a risk of snow by mid-September, I think. I’ve been in Salida on the day of the first snowfall around Sept 15. We’d ridden the Monarch Crest the day before, and after a flurry of overnight cloudcover, awoke to a shimmering blanket of snow on the mountains.

  • Christophe Noel

    If I can chime in, after having ridden it a couple times now and having spoken with dozens of others to have ridden the whole thing, daily mileage varies wildly. If you’re really fit and motivated, 75 miles per day is doable, but requires not only tremendous fitness, but the learned skill to travel this type of terrain, which is quite challenging. You have to have a decent amount of high mountain savvy to make good use of supplies, daylight, and knowing how to judge when to push on, and when to stop. For those going at a more reasonable speed, I think 45-55 miles per day makes for a nice tempo with a day or two at that 75 number. Some sections are simply really hard and that makes it tough to have an average daily goal. The think that gets many people are the unexpected challenges that come with such extreme terrain. The endless hike-a-bike has clobbered some rider’s feet, ankles, and knees. The altitude zaps people’s ability to sleep and a host of other unusual variables come into play. It is…hard. No two ways about it.

  • Thanks Chris – thats useful insight. I know it will be tough. If we manage any days at 75 miles, I’ll be very happy!

  • Christophe Noel

    There are some sections that bypass the wilderness areas that use roads and even sections of highway. Those are good opportunities to add in an extra 20 miles here and there. They offset the places where the hike-a-bike gets severe.

  • Steve

    Even years -> east to west; odd years -> west to east. Usually planned around a full moon, too.

  • Steve

    What kind of bikes are these dudes riding? Looks like Moonmen bars, but not sure on the frames… anybody?

  • Hi Steve. Devon’s bike is a Moonmen: not sure about Deejay’s

  • Steve

    Rad. Those guys put out some quality work – and they’re super-cool, to boot. Actually, there’s a lot of quality work here in Fort Collins.

    Keep up the good work on the website – lookin’ good around here!

  • Thanks Steve!

  • Bill Wright

    Just finished riding the CT. I live in Denver. Let me know if I can help in any way. Christophe Noel’s comments are spot on.

  • Piet Sawvel

    Devon, good synopsis of a Colorado treasure. A friend and I savored riding the sections from Denver to BV; we aim to complete the push to Durango next summer.

    The CT bikepackers we’ve met have extended courtesy to other trail users, and respect for the environment. We understand it’s a public resource with a long history of cooperation and contributions from diverse user groups. As bikepacking gains in popularity, there’ll inevitably be some pushback from other trail users, e.g.: this recent opinion piece in High Country News

    Folks, please be mindful and yield to hikers and equestrians. Breaking cadence on a long climb adds to exertion but in the long run it’ll reap dividends.

  • DBalet

    Both of us are on Moonmen M04 and M05

  • DBalet

    Our resupply stops: Durango, Silverton, Buena Vista, Leadville, Breck. The distance from Silverton to Buena Vista is a big one. Pack extra Snickers bars and top off water anywhere you can. We ran out of water on one day during a big Wilderness detour.

  • DBalet

    Thank you! Timing can be hit or miss. We started Sept. 27th and ended up getting snow near the end.

  • DBalet

    Coffee and salted caramel Gu for the WIN!!!

  • Patrick Ramsey

    Started to plan my trip, its in early stages, but any thoughts or has anyone done it around mid / late June?

  • Late June should be good, depending on spring temps. I’d just check with local shops in Salida and Durango to find out how clear the higher elevation stuff is…

  • incompleteness

    Colorado had a pretty serious snow year this winter. I would doubt that snow will be clear from passes in mid to late June this year (Independence Pass still has several feet of snow). I would check the SNOTEL sites for the passes involved for real-time data, remembering that on north aspects the snow will persist longer, and on east aspects will generally be wind-loaded to a much greater depth.

  • Subhrojyoti

    I have a Trek 4500D (hardtail) fitted with Ortlieb Backroller Plus. I understand there are sections on this route with lot of bike pushing and singletracks. Would that necessitate a seatbag or I could get away with the panniers if I pack light?

  • Well, with the amount of steep terrain, I would personally prefer a more manageable seat pack. But, it’s certainly doable with panniers, depending on your own tolerance and potential.

  • nathan kennedy

    I noticed you guys are riding singlespeeds. What gearing are you guys using and what feedback can you provide for singlespeed bikebacking in Colorado? Great ride btw!

  • Dave

    Agreed. I’d add, however, that for flat landers coming to the CT for the first time, that daily mileage drops even further, to maybe more like 30 miles per day for a while. The altitude and the steep climbing zaps you for days, and we also repeatedly spent hours sitting around watching the huge storms on the passes, wondering when we could safely go up there–this hugely affected some of our days. Now I know I just need to get up earlier so as to get over the passes before the storms come. Will try to keep that in mind when I do the CT again in a week!

  • Harris

    Curious, having just finished thru-riding the trail from Denver-Durango, how you came up with the “95% ridable” figure?

  • Matt M.

    Just sayin’–La Garita Wilderness detour has plenty of water and is by far the most scenic of the detours. Maybe even a worthy ride on its own? Lost Creek detour is in fact the dry and hot stretch. (opposite is stated above)

    Returned yesterday from a successful 10 day ride down the CT. My ECR and I had a blast!

  • Ben Aylsworth

    Indeed. Also just finished riding Denver-Durango. 95% from a time perspective is way off. Waaaayyyy off.

  • johnnestleroutdoors

    Just recently finished bikepacking the Colorado Trail and have been collecting some data about trips (mainly trip length). This is really geared towards all thru-riders. I came up with a super-quick survey to get some answers, and would be stoked if any of you gave your input!

  • Andrew Wade

    Where can we view the results? I am planning this for next summer and the more resources I have the better. Thanks.

  • johnnestleroutdoors

    Hi Andrew, I’ll post the data & some summaries on my website ( in the next week. I’ll post a link to this comment when it’s all put together. Good luck starting the research!

  • We are planning to ride 5 – 7 days, the last week of June 2017. I’m thinking to start at Buena Vista and ride to Durango.

  • Chad Ament

    I ride long day trips on a Single Speed on the Colorado Trail with a 34×22 on a 29er, and it’s damn hard, and that is with zero gear on my bike.

  • Newbie Biker

    Mileage wise, did you hike-a-bike more than 27 miles? Also, hike-a-biking vertical elevation is harder and longer compared to the horizontal distance you are actually traveling.

  • Newbie Biker

    Mileage wise, did you hike-a-bike more than 27 miles? Also, hike-a-biking vertical elevation is harder and longer compared to the horizontal distance you are actually traveling. So that could be where they are getting the 95% rideable from. Though, having never been on any part of the CT before, I really have no idea. I am making plans to ride it Denver to Durango this summer (July maybe?), so I guess I will soon find out for myself.

  • Parker Curry

    Has this been done on a fat bike? Specifically I have a Specialized Fatboy. I also have a Specialized Enduro. Thoughts?

  • Ty Delobel

    Hi all, I’m starting my thru-ride on June 15 and am hoping to finish by July 1. If anyone is planning on taking off around the same time, I’d love a pace buddy or someone to make sure I’m alive throughout the trail. Thanks, Enjoy the ride!

  • Anne

    Sounds awesome. Could you give any estimates about the costs during the two ride? (low budget option is preferred ;) )

  • Anne

    *two week ride

  • Pow


    I have never ridden the trail, but I did through hike it in 2005, and believe it or not, I started on June 15th. I would say that with this year’s snowpack you could be in for an adventure. If it continues to be hot and dry, you could be ok, but the San Juans in particular have a very strong snowpack and you’ll certainly be on the early side.

    In 2005 we had very deep snow between Breck and Copper (circa June 20th) and still were crossing snowfields in the San Juans in mid-july.

  • Pow


    I am working on a Bike pack too. Having through hiked it in 2005 on a college kid budget, we did it very cheap by caching our food in bear bags hung in trees. We stashed in 5 locations (a boot sized ski locker at copper mountain, Somewhere near Yale Peak, US50, The pass above Lake city and Molas Pass) and since we camped every night, had friends arranged to pick us up, and already had most the gear we need, we did it dirt cheap. I would expect that a savvy and experienced bikepacker could do it a similar way. But if you don’t already have the bike gear, it’ll be a bit pricy to get your kit together. (I am not an experienced bike-packer so I am working on my kit now and seeing that one could spend a lot of money if they wanted to.)

  • Anne

    Thanks a lot! That is great to hear :) I have most of the gear – just wasn’t sure if there might be any additionaly costs coming up. Looking forward a lot!

  • John

    What would you put for the “95% ridable” figure instead?

  • Harris

    I’d say ~80%. On average I think we were out for 12 hours a day and probably hiked 3-5 hours of that. One day (12 mile range south bound) was like a 6-7 hour hike. There is A LOT of hike-a-bike, which is sweet but people should know…

  • John Williams

    Awesome! Thanks! And how many days did it take you to do the whole thing?

  • Harris

    We did it in 10 days, almost the the minute. That was with a mid afternoon start in Denver and almost a full day waiting out storms in silverton. Full write-up here:

  • Harris

    I cant say for sure. I bet the hiking just sticks with you longer and is easy to dwell on. This post is talking about % of time. Seeing both these dudes on SInglespeeds makes me super skeptical about their math.

  • Karim Bekka

    I’m sure it has been done with a fat bike before. I plan on using my Specialized Fatboy Trail when I do it at the end of this July. I think a fat bike would work just fine. Plus, as the saying goes: ride what you got.

  • John Williams

    Just read through the blog! What an awesome adventure and congrats on completing it! Would you or Babe Rainbow be willing to talk to me in more depth about your trip? My email is My girlfriend and I are going to start our thru-bike at the end of July 2017.

  • Jeff

    I see you both rode it on fully rigid bikes but the description suggests a hardtail or even full suspension. I’m going to be riding the CT as part of a much longer expedition: Great Divide from Banff and then switching to the CT, possibly the new Plateau Passage or Adventure Cycling routes to the Arizona Trail to Phoenix, then pavement to San Diego and then the Baja Divide! I have a 650b+ and am debating between a suspension or rigid fork. I love the plus wheels and rigid fork for the more fire road sections (and obviously pavement) but am debating taking the suspension fork instead because of the more single track sections. Thoughts?

  • Cass Gilbert

    I just updated this post – see note at the bottom of the main copy. I’d definitely advise front suspension for the Colorado Trail if you have access to a suspension fork. I rode a B+ Niner SIR and it was perfect; the others were on a Karate Monkey, a Krampus, and a Stache, all this front suspension. Everyone was really happy with their setups.

  • Cass Gilbert

    Hi Harris, we enjoyed following your notes while riding the CT recently! Sounds like you guys were put through the wringer weather-wise!

    Having read your thoughts, I was very conscious of the amount of hike-a-biking over the trip. After completing the ride in 13 days (inc breaks), our group feeling was that it was closer to 90 per cent rather than 80 per cent rideable – I’ve made an adjustment to the percentage on the site from its original 95 per cent.

    I wonder if it felt like more because hike-a-bikes leave a stronger impression, so feel like they take longer?! Also, you guys completed the ride considerably faster pace than we did. I also wonder if fresher legs makes for more rideable terrain?
    I certainly noticed that once I got tired, was easier just to hop off the bike and push.

    In any case, we certainly felt the CT has a good deal deal of hiking to its name. But cumulatively, most of these sections seemed to go by pretty quickly, bar a few longer stints.

  • Harris

    Hey Cass, thanks much for your thoughts! So stoked you got out there. I enjoyed your photos very much. I think you are right that the hiking sticks out in your mind a lot. Also, i think we did hike a bit more because of our pace. We tried to keep moving and i think one way to deal with that is to take breaks from pedaling and so we did end up walking when we *probably* could have pedaled. The path of least resistance if you will. Cheers!

  • Cass Gilbert

    We enjoyed reading your accounts around the evening fire, to find out what was in store for the next day! I remember seeing a great picture of you looking so utterly, blissfully happy to be eating pizza (-;

  • Matt Plumb

    Surprising how hard it is to find someone a) crazy enough to do this ride and b) who can get the time off. I have no such problems.

    Starting ride late this month. Live in Durango, starting in Denver. Thinking 9-12 days, but I’m flexible. If any one wants a riding/co-psycho bike guy let me know.

  • Yep, my son and I finished in late July this year, and I can say that 95% is way off as well. More like 66% if you are in great shape, and 50% if you take your time and enjoy the ride. Plus, the mountain towns need $, so take a few days and see them along the way.

  • Marilie Croteau

    Hi Cass, pretty sure we saw the 3 of you on the trail, around Windy peak and Sergeant Mesa at the end of July. We were travelling south from Frisco to Durango with full suspension bikes and DIY luggage holder. What a trail! I pushed my bike for quite a long time there. I was curious to ask you how you would compare this trail with the trans ecuador (both versions) and the ruta de las tres cordilleras because we discussing about going there. That time, we would probably ride a rigid (like ECR, troll or ogre) with bigger tires (2,5 or 3, we had 2,2 for the CT). thanks!

  • Karim Bekka

    I too just did the trail at the end of July 2017. I hope your travels went well. I began in Denver and ended up having to bail in Silverton (SO CLOSE TO THE END!!) because of a hip injury I sustained in a wreck somewhere in segment 17. You should let us know how your trip went. We’d enjoy hearing about it. I took some videos of my trip and will eventually up them up on YouTube. I felt like there were too few resources for the trail for bikers on YouTube when doing research for my trip, so I want to contribute what I can.

  • envia3000

    Nice Trip Devon, I’m planning to do CT next summer 2018. Is necessary to used a tent? Mosquitoes is problem in this trail? Use a Bivy a option? What kind of camping do you recomend?

  • Keith Mort

    Hi, I am new to this site. I just got back from riding the hole Enchilada, and slick rock, and other trails in Moab Utah, I am very interested in doing the CT next year 2018, and was wondering where I might find someone to ride with.

  • Math Teacher

    I saw several thru-hikers using tarps. I don’t recall anyone using a bivy. It’ll mostly be a personal choice. For me, a tent is the only option I’ll go with, especially with the amount of rain I encountered during my trip (July/August 2017). I know a lot of the racers will do it in a bivy. I didn’t experience too many mosquitoes, but I think the large amounts of rain kept them at bay. Personally, I wouldn’t go without a tent, but I don’t do a lot of backpacking, bikepacking, camping, etc. It is a nice comfort after a long, emotionally draining day.

  • Math Teacher

    When are you thinking about going?

  • Keith Mort

    I was thinking sometime next year for sure.
    If you are also thinking of doing the CT
    please stay in touch. This is my email

  • Fritz

    PSA: if you’re treating water with tabs or drops, check the expiration dates before you leave! I mistakenly grabbed an old bottle of betadine and ended up losing thirteen pounds on the Giardia Diet.

    I rode 460 miles northbound over the first week of September and had the best weather imaginable. Only one thunderstorm and one rain shower. In addition, the aspens were at peak gold around Leadville. Way preferable compared to my thru-hike six years ago over the month of June, or the CTR crew getting hammered with storms in July. Water was adequate — I only carried 750ml at a time.

    I rode a heavy bike (Karate Monkey) with a light kit (no seat bag, only two pounds at most in the backpack), and 1×11 with 30:42 as my granny was perfect. Anything lower and I either wouldn’t have traction or pushing would be faster and less aerobic. Long days + low RPM’s was my strategy, and it worked pretty well. I had to cut the trip short by seventy miles in order to make it back to work on time; otherwise, I was feeling great.

    The most useful part of my kit: a Cleaveland Mountaineering “Daddy’s Little Helper” hikeabike strap.

    Can’t wait to do it again! Platform pedals and trail runners next time, though. That was a lot of clipping and unclipping.

    Full trip report:
    Kit list and analysis:

  • Alfonso Amezcua

    hi! I’m thinking on riding the CT as well, but it will be better to do it with more ppl instead the doing it by my self, so let me know when you planning on doing it

  • Claude Frey

    for their great information and trail described we have the following questions.
    we come from Switzerland and know alpine bike difficulty levels according to
    how do you appreciate the difficulty of the colorado trail
    There are sections that are more difficult than S2 level?
    if so, can you please tell us in which trail sections, between Denver and Durango?
    There are also more difficult trail sections than S4 level?
    if so, can you please tell us in which trail sections, between Denver and Durango?
    Does the downloadable gps track already includes the nationalpark bypasses?
    I do not know the monsoon time. It is possible to drive the trail between mid august and end of september?
    here in switzerland we normally use alpine passes with max. 3000 meters above sea level.
    what about wild camping, outside of wild reserves?
    We do not know any bears and wild cats in Switzerland.
    Contacts with wildlife are more likely or unlikely, especially when camping?
    where are there meaningful and realistic behavioral suggestions for wild animal contact?

    many thanks in advance for answers, and best regards
    Claude from Switzerland

  • Bo Torrey

    Just a heads up the link to Hinsdale Yurt is broken. Here is the updated link for anyone interested

  • Jon Dicus

    Planning to ride trail from Salida to Durango in July. However, I am having trouble finding a way back to Salida after the ride. There are no shuttles and no rental cars options with drop off in Salida. Anyone have suggestions? Thanks.

  • John Schilling

    The time is growing near for this year’s CTR. Hopefully it’ll be a tad less stormy than last year, although the southwest is in dire need of rain at the moment. Interesting to hear the views re: HAB on the CT. I managed to finish the CTR last year in a blistering 12+ days and promptly sent my track in for analysis at the world renowned hike-a-bike headquarters over at Topofusion. The data was processed, numbers crunched and I wasn’t the least bit surprised to find out I pushed my bike for ~75 of the 551 miles. I know I walked way more miles than the average CTR rider, the elevation kicked my arse coming from Phoenix. Oh well, I got it done. I did take a boatload of pics since I was often stopped catching my breath, so there’s that. Here’s the full recap, it’s long….

  • Greg Johnson

    On the question of rideability, I just did segments 15, 14, and 13 and feel the rideability is around 50%, if that. Very technical with many unrideable uphill sections and gnarly, technical downhills that didn’t make up for your payment to the gravity gods.

  • I’m considering a ride September 1-14. Anyone else looking at these dates or interested?

  • Caleb Young

    I’ll riding the trail during that time.