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Posted July 29, 2019 –

In Segment 24 of The Colorado Trail, there are acres of unavoidable avalanche debris. It will be there all Trail season. Hikers should each choose whether or not to travel Seg 24 depending on their willingness to incur the extra risk involved in crossing the avalanche debris piles.

There are 4 very large debris piles of broken trees strewn like pick-up sticks. (Visitors describe the scale as unimaginable, a testament to the awesome power of Mother Nature.) Altogether, the crossing distance adds to about 0.3 mile. There are voids in these piles and some of the debris is unstable, meaning that some debris can move as you place a foot and your weight on it. Underneath the broken trees is loads of hard snow that continues to melt and as it melts it causes changes in the debris stability.

Crossing this debris safely requires super careful attention to your footing, making sure every single step is safe. Test each footstep; take it slowly. We think trekking poles are essential to improve balance, etc. CTF Volunteers were able to make each debris crossing a little friendlier in recent days but there are no additional work efforts scheduled.

Many hikers and volunteers have succeeded in crossing the avalanche debris piles by being ultra-focused on their footing.

Choose for yourself whether you want to proceed with Seg 24 or not. Think of it as all-or-nothing; you make the final decision at or before Seg 24 mi 0.0 near the top of Stony Pass. Do not plan to make a decision when you reach the first of the piles and see them, as you will be miles into the segment and have descended thousands of feet by then and be reluctant to turn back.

The recommended detour around CT Seg 24 is very straightforward and can be quite pleasant, beginning on sparsely traveled, scenic roads that lead into Silverton, and ending with an easy hitch or shuttle to near the top of Molas Pass along Highway 550. Follow the Bicycle Detour Weminuche Wilderness on pages 86 and 87 of the CT Databook and travel through Silverton for goodies, a nero or zero. This detour is also available in the Guthook CT app.

NOTE FOR HORSE AND LLAMA TRAVELERS: The avalanche debris is not passable by stock animals and you will need to plan taking the detour in the above paragraph or make other arrangements.