Colorado Trail Blog Series – Seg. 1

This the first blog in the series will be dedicated to record our travels on the Colorado Trail. I wanted to thru-hike this trail in September but time constraint and current travels, I will focus on section hiking with Bryan and local backpackers.

Day 1 & 2
Miles this weekend: 16.8 miles.
Miles so far: 16.8miles
Campsite: Bear Creek

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We hiked with a group of 14, the combination of 2 Meetup groups. Each group began hiking at opposite site of the segment and met at Bear Creek campsite in the middle. Our group hiked Northbound towards Waterton Canyon trailhead from South Platte River Trailhead.

The first segment of the trail is very close to Denver (Hence why it’s hiking from Denver to Durango) and we were fortunate enough to be living only 12 miles away from the trailhead. We shuttled cars and got started around 930am at the South Platte River Trailhead. The beginning of the hike was mostly switchbacks which we gained 1599ft and descended 1511ft over the first 8 miles. The hike was pleasant and in a wooded area which provided great shade. There was a few of areas where we could of filtered some water. The highest point of segment 1 was reached on our first day and we actually missed it. We found an area which provided a great view of the mountains but when we looked at our maps, we realized we were not at the highest point yet. We decided to continue on but we actually missed the high point of this segment as we thought it would be more open with a view. Oh well! Still got great views!

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A few miles later, Bryan and I encountered a ptarmigan. It came down the side hill on a switchback and ran in front of me. I thought the little guy was friendly and I tried taking photos of it. As we continued hiking, the ptarmigan kept running in front of me and making this weird noise. He suddenly jumped at my leg and tried biting me. It was hilarious as he body slammed onto my leg, it felt like a pillow bouncing on my leg. ha! We quickly decided to move ahead faster but the bird kept running after us. It was obviously protecting their nest or something. We had to hike backwards as Bryan tried putting distance between the bird and ourselves but the ptarmigan just kept coming. We ran away and finally was out of his defending zone. whew!

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The rest of the day was uneventful. We arrived at camp at Bear creek and set up our tents. This segment is a popular backpacking trip for locals. Most suitable campsites were taken early. We managed to find a good spot for all of our tents and met our campsite neighbor. She is planning on thru-hiking the Colorado Trail in July and I hope I’ll be able to provide some trail magic when she does!

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Second day of the hike was much easier as we had to climb down into the canyon and was 80% road which reminded me a lot like the road walks I’ve encountered on the Florida Trail. We gained 468ft and descended 1198ft over 8.7 miles. The road was not really in the shade and it got hot quickly. One thing to remember is at elevation, you get dehydrated much faster… at least for me. The canyon road was pretty and was very busy with cyclists, runners and backpackers. Our hiked ended at the Waterton Canyon trailhead.

Overall, it was a great intro to the Colorado Trail and it made me excited to backpack more of it in the upcoming months we’ll be here. See you out there! Happy hiking

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