Rest and resupply towns along The Colorado Trail are generally small but most offer some services (such as a post office or cafe), a place to resupply (though options may be limited), and, possibly, accommodations. Their distance from the Trail ranges from within sight of the Trail (Copper Mountain and Princeton Hot Springs, for instance) to around 40 miles (Gunnison).The Official Guidebook to the Colorado Trail and The Colorado Trail Databook, Guthook Guides The Colorado Trail Hiker smartphone app, and websites such as Paul Magnanti’s end-to-end guide to the CT.
Following is a list of the towns along the Trail traveling southbound from Denver, their distance from Denver on the CT and from the Trail itself, and a brief description of services available:
This mountain town, not far outside Denver, offers a host of services straddling U.S. Highway 285. It is a long hitch, however, from the trail on a lightly used county road.
Distance from Denver: Approx. 17 miles
Distance from the CT: Approx. 15 miles northwest on County Road 97; turnoff is at the junction of Segments 1 and 2
Once a whistle stop on the Denver, South Park & Pacific Railroad, the town survives with a few cabins, post office, small general store, pay phone, and Forest Service work center.
Distance from Denver: Approx. 27 miles
Distance from the CT: 3.2 miles northwest along County Road 126; turnoff is at about mile 10 of Segment 2
Bailey, up the road from Conifer on U.S. Highway 285, has a small business center supported by dispersed mountain residences.
Distance from Denver: Approx. 40 miles
Distance from the CT: Approx. 8 miles northwest from the junction of Segments 3 and 4; turnoff is on Wellington Lake Road (Forest Service Road 560), which becomes County Road 68
Once a train stop, the town has a population of less than a couple dozen, with a tiny market, a post office and cafe.
Distance from Denver: Approx. 72 miles
Distance from the CT: 4.5 miles southwest of Kenosha Pass, at the junction of Segments 5 and 6, on U.S. Highway 285
Another 15 miles farther southwest of Jefferson on U.S. Highway 285 is the much larger Fairplay (population: 700-plus), with grocery and convenience stores, restaurants, post office, hotels and motels.
Distance from Denver: Approx. 72 miles
Distance from the CT: Approx. 20 miles southwest of Kenosha Pass at the junction of Segments 5 and 6
Breckenridge is approximately 4 miles south of the Gold Hill Trailhead on Colorado Highway 9 at the junction of Segments 6 and 7. Frisco is approximately 5 miles northwest of the trailhead. Both towns are restored mining/railroad towns serving the popular year-round resorts of Summit County. The Summit Stage provides free bus service between the towns and beyond, including to Copper Mountain Resort. There is a bus stop on Highway 9 about 0.2 miles south of the trailhead. Pick up northbound buses on the east side of the highway and southbound buses on the west side.
Distance from Denver: Approx. 105 miles
Distance from the CT: 4 miles to Breckenridge; 5 miles to Frisco
Copper Mountain Resort
While not technically a town, Copper Mountain Resort offers a range of services, including accommodations, shops and restaurants. There is a convenience store/gas station near Wheeler Flats Trailhead.
Distance from Denver: Approx. 119 miles
Distance from the CT: less than a mile to services
This a historic mining and railroad town, and highest U.S. city at 10,200 feet, offers a full range of services, including accommodations, several restaurants, grocery stores and camping equipment shops. It can be accessed from two points on the Trail.
Distance from Denver: approx. 143 miles to Tennessee Pass; 156 miles to the Timberline Lake Trailhead
Distance from the CT: Approx. 8 miles from either turnoff. From Tennessee Pass, at the junction of Segments 8 and 9, take U.S. Highway 24 south; from the Timberline Lake Trailhead, near the junction of Segments 10 and 11, take Turquoise Lake Road (Forest Road 105).
Twin Lakes Village
This old mining town, perhaps Colorado’s oldest resort town, features the Twin Lakes Store, a delightful old general store that provides a surprisingly helpful supply of items for CT travelers, and accommodations too.
Note: About 7.5 trail miles south from Twin Lakes Village the CT splits into the Collegiate East and Collegiate West routes. There are limited resupply options on the West route until travelers reach U.S. Highway 50 near Monarch Pass.
Distance from Denver: Approx. 177 miles
Distance from the CT: Approx. 1 mile west of where the Trail crosses Colorado Highway 82 at mile 7.2 Segment 11. There is also a small side trail that leads to the west side of the village beginning at mile 5.9 of Segment 11.
Buena Vista, located in the Arkansas Valley between the Mosquito Range and towering Sawatch Range, certainly lives up to its Spanish name (translation: good view). The town, one of the larger along the Trail, is an ideal resupply point for long-distance trekkers.
Distance from Denver: Approx. 216 miles
Distance from the CT: Approx. 9.5 miles from the Avalanche Trailhead (mile 6.6 of Segment 13) east on Cottonwood Pass Road (County Road 306) to town. Another option is to exit the Trail at Clear Creek Canyon Road (County Road 390) at the end of Segment 11, travel east to U.S. Highway 24, and go south (total travel distance: 19 miles).
Mount Princeton Hot Springs
This resort area offers a welcome respite to CT travelers, with its hot springs pool, restaurant and overnight accommodations. There is also a small general store and maildrop.
Distance from Denver: Approx. 230 miles
Distance from the CT: The Trail runs through the property.
Salida, an old railroad town near the midpoint of The Colorado Trail, is now a commercial center for the Arkansas Valley and a popular spot for CT travelers who want to take a break from the Trail. Its vibrant downtown features shops and restaurants, and there is a variety of overnight accommodations both there and along the U.S. Highway 50 commercial strip. The smaller Poncha Springs, which borders the western outskirts of Salida, has a small restaurant and convenience store.
Note both of these: The Monarch Spur RV Park, about a mile east of where the Collegiate East crosses Highway 50 (and about 9 miles from the Collegiate West crossing), has camping and showers. The Monarch Crest Gift Shop, a short hike north from where the Collegiate West route crosses Highway 50, has some groceries and a restaurant.
Distance from Denver: Approx. 253 miles
Distance from the CT: Salida is approx. 15 miles east of where the Collegiate East route crosses U.S. Highway 50 and about 22 miles from where the Collegiate West routes crosses Highway 50
This small, but charming town of about 500 offers restaurants, a coffee shop, lodging, and post office, but it can be a long hitch from the Trail.
Distance from Denver: Approx. 302 miles
Distance from the CT: Approx. 31 miles southeast on Colorado Highway 114, which the Trail crosses near the junction of Segments 17 and 18
This town of about 6,000 is home to Western Colorado University and styles itself as “Base Camp of the Rockies” for its many outdoor recreational opportunities. As befits a town of its size, it boasts a full range of services and is a popular resupply point for CT travelers.
Distance from Denver: Approx. 302 miles
Distance from the CT: Approx. 39 miles (total) northwest on Colorado Highway 114, which the Trail crosses near the junction of Segments 17 and 18, then west from where 114 intersects with U.S. Highway 50.
This historic mining town of about 300 is the only incorporated town in sparsely populated Mineral County. Despite its size, Creede is a popular tourist destination and offers a full range of services.
Distance from Denver: Approx. 343 miles
Distance from the CT: Approx. 10 miles from San Luis Pass at the intersection of Segments 20 and 21. Descend on a side trail south along the headwaters of West Willow Creek until you meet up with Forest Service Road 503, which leads into town. About two miles down 503 is the Equity Mine. This area is used by people climbing nearby San Luis Peak, hunters during hunting season, and people on a self-guided mine tour. On a busy weekend, a backpacker may find an easy hitch from the mine into town. Creede can also be reached, if with difficulty due to the 33-mile distance and low traffic, from the Spring Creek Pass Trailhead.
Another former mining town, and only incorporated town in Hinsdale County, offers a full range of services, including restaurants, lodging, and grocery and convenience stores.
Distance from Denver: Approx. 357 miles
Distance from the CT: Approx. 17 miles northwest of Spring Creek Pass, at the intersection of Segments 21 and 22, on Colorado Highway 149
Not a town, but a campground, it offers showers, limited grocery items, and a mail drop.
Distance from Denver: Approx. 409 miles
Distance from the CT: Right off the Trail at mile 18.7 of Segment 24
Silverton is the last good resupply stop before arriving in Durango. As the terminus of the popular Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, Silverton is a popular with tourists and offers a full range of services.
Note: Molas Lake Campground is just 0.2 mile from the CT and southbound travelers can diverge at the sign as they approach Molas Pass. The tiny campground store has snacks. A shower is possible (bring your own towel) and the campground will accept and hold maildrop resupply packages shipped via UPS.
Distance from Denver: Approx. 411 miles
Distance from CT: Approx. 6 miles north of Molas Pass on U.S. Highway 550, which the CT crosses at the split between Segments 24 and 25.