The Colorado Trail is in continual transition and has been since its completion in 1987. In its earliest incarnations, the Trail was a combination of existing backcountry trails, Forest Service roads, mining roads and trails, abandoned railroad right of way, and miles of new trail hacked out by volunteers stitching it all together.
Over the years, much of that original tread has been modified, added to and moved from steep, unsustainable sections. Gradually, new single-track has replaced roadway. Still, some 100 miles remain open to some motorized use and it is the goal of The Colorado Trail Foundation to eventually move as many of those miles as possible to non-motorized track. As a result, CT users should expect to encounter reroutes as they traverse the length of the Trail.
Reroutes Happen Every Season
Short reroutes are built nearly every season and lengthier modifications every few years. All are aimed at improving the Trail experience for all types of users.
A consequence is that older guidebooks no longer describe the current CT route. That’s why we recommend buying or borrowing the latest edition of the official Guidebook, Databook or Map Book, especially before taking an extended trip on the Trail. That said, even the most recent editions of those guides can be slightly inaccurate due to subsequent route changes. That should be no cause for alarm, however. Most changes are minor and easy to follow.
In addition, planned and unplanned events can necessitate routing changes. For example, work on the Strontia Springs Dam in 2011 shut down the first few miles of Segment 1 for several months. Alternative starting points to reach the Trail were offered. Wildfires also have temporarily closed sections of the Trail for days, and even weeks, requiring users to find alternate routes.
Collegiate West Reroute
Starting with the 2013 trail season, we added 80 miles of trail to the CT known as the Collegiate West. It is co-located with the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail and is ‘must see’ spectacular. Read more about the Collegiate West.
In 2014, major reroutes opened on the Collegiate West, including the most prominent, a 23-mile single-track upgrade that eliminates similar mileage on roads and motorcycle trail. The part from Cottonwood Pass to Tincup Pass Road closely tracks the Divide and includes trail construction that causes nearly every hiker to marvel.
In coming years, the CTF, USFS and others will be constructing trail on additional stretches of the Collegiate West to reroute sections that still follow roads and motorcycle trail.