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Posted June 23, 2020 –

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 and June temperatures have been warm, so 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 and how arduous it was, etc. Reports like that are really helpful as we try to inform everyone. 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, remaining snowpack has diminished to enable fairly easy distance hiking. We have learned that trail travelers vary a lot in their willingness to hassle with snowpack. Some are okay with miles of snow struggle and the fact that it slows them down and tires them out. Others don’t want any part of it including many who 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.

  • (Summary: Entire CT following the Collegiate East is ‘Snowpack Passable’)
  • Segs 1-4 Passable
  • Seg 5 Passable (expect numerous blow-down trees blocking the trail, Seg 5, mi 3-6)
  • Seg 6 Passable
  • Segs 7-9 Passable (NEW this report)
  • Seg 10 Passable
  • Segs 11-14 Passable
  • Segs 15-16 Passable (NEW this report)
  • Segs 17-19 Passable
  • Seg 20 Passable (expect numerous blow-downs high in the Cochetopa Creek valley)
  • Segs 21-22 Passable
  • Seg 23 Passable (NEW this report)
  • Seg 24 Passable (NEW this report; expect that Avalanche Debris requires cautious hiking)
  • Segs 25-27 Passable (NEW this report)
  • Seg 28 Passable
  • Segs CW01 Passable
  • CW02-CW05 impassable (we think it may all be passable by July 1, 2020)

Travelers starting after JULY 1 in an average year usually find enough of the snowpack has melted that the majority of the CT, including the CT Collegiate East, will have become passable by the time they reach the higher elevation areas that tend to retain snow. This July 1 date is average; some years melt-off comes a bit earlier and sometimes a bit later.

However, JULY 15 is the average 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 workable.