Snowpack 2020 as of May 22

Early June Snowpack Approaching Georgia Pass along Colorado Trail Segment 6

Early June Snowpack Approaching Georgia Pass along Colorado Trail Segment 6. Photo, CTF Trekking Manager, Chris Szczech

HOW MUCH SNOW REMAINS? It is hard telling at this time of year how much snow is still on all the different portions of The Colorado Trail. The widely varying elevations, 5,522 to 13,271 feet above sea level, play a huge role as does the aspect of each hillside and tree shading. This 2020 winter and spring deposited near-average snowpack, a little deeper than average on roughly the north half of the CT and a little less than average along the southern half. But May temperatures have been relatively warm and the snow is melting faster than normal.

User reports are the best source of snowpack information, so if you go, please let us know. For example, tell us how many miles of snowpack you encountered, etc. We have not yet seen too many user reports. Here at The Colorado Trail Foundation, we are closely monitoring what trail travelers say so that we can report to you. This is imperfect but the best approach we know.

We use the term “PASSABLE” to mean whatever snowpack remains is NOT OVERLY ARDUOUS OR UNSAFE due to slipping, post-holing and navigation challenges, etc. In other words, snow-easy distance hiking. We have learned that trail travelers vary a lot as to their willingness. Some are okay with miles of snow and how much it slows them down and tires them out. Others don’t want any part of it and many of these folks have experienced the challenge of Colorado spring snowpack before. We use the term “IMPASSABLE” to mean, due to remaining snowpack, many CT distance travelers won’t want to go yet.

  • Segs 1-4 passable
  • Seg 5 passable (however, expect numerous fallen trees blocking the trail)
  • Segs 6-10 impassable (snowpack remains up high, on north faces, and in the trees)
  • Seg 11 impassable (but lower elevation portion is passable, Twin Lakes to Clear Creek)
  • Segs 12-13 impassable (snowpack remains up high, on north faces, and in the trees)
  • Seg 14 passable
  • Segs 15-17 impassable
  • Seg 18 passable
  • Seg 19 passable (ford at Cochetopa Creek might be kinda high)
  • Segs 20-28 impassable
  • Segs CW01-CW05 impassable

By JULY 1 in an average year, enough of the snowpack has typically melted that the majority of the CT, including the CT Collegiate East, will have become passable. This July 1 date is average; some years melt-off comes a bit earlier and sometimes a bit later. However, JULY 15 is the melt-off date for the Collegiate West. It is an exception and normally melts off last, on average, becoming passable around July 15th.

But, given the warm spring temperatures, we are guessing this 2020 summer trail season will start a bit earlier than the norms above. Dates maybe 10 days earlier than those listed above might prove easily workable.