Outdoors: Colorado Trail 2.0

March 13 2013, 3:30 PM

Good news, hikers and bikers: The Colorado Trail is about to get even more epic. As is, the 486-mile recreational paradise stretches from Denver to Durango (at elevations up to 13,271 feet) through the peaks, valleys, and stunning mountain passes of six wilderness areas and eight mountain ranges. It shares 234 miles with the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail that winds border-to-border from Canada to Mexico.

Thanks to the efforts of the Colorado Trail Foundation (CTF), the trail is getting an 80-mile add-on called Collegiate West that snakes through the majestic fourteeners of the Collegiate Peaks. The 80 miles are part of the Continental Divide Trail, but CTF has agreed to provide volunteer stewardship of this particular segment, which will become an alternative to (and form a 160-mile loop with) the Colorado Trail’s already-existing Collegiate East section. Much of Collegiate West, which starts at Twin Lakes outside Leadville and continues south of Monarch Pass to reconnect with the main trail southwest of Salida, currently follows old logging and mining roads, but the trail is undergoing rehabilitation and rerouting in a multi-year effort by the CTF, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, Southwest Conservation Corps, and the Buena Vista Correctional Facility. Hikers this spring and summer will find signs already in place, and officials expect the Collegiate East-West Loop, with its multiple easy access points, to become one of the more popular day-use areas on the Colorado Trail.

For more information, trail highlights, and a map, visit coloradotrail.org.

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