How Long Does it Take to Hike the Colorado Trail?

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The Colorado Trail provides outdoor lovers with the perfect opportunity to escape the busy city. The trail runs for 485 miles from Denver to San Juans and covers diverse terrains. 

The Colorado trail’s highest point is 13240 feet above sea level, while the lowest point is 5520 feet above sea level. Hikers love the Colorado trail because it provides a challenge for both beginner and experienced hikers. 


Average time for hiking the Colorado Trail

The average hiker takes about 5 weeks to hike the Colorado Trail on foot. This time can be shorter or longer by a few weeks, depending on the level of experience of the hiker and how much gear they have carried with them. Moreover, some hikers take longer breaks than others do, which can cause their hike to take more time. The trail is also divided into different segments that have different access routes. 

This allows hikers who cannot make the entire journey in one trip to take small hikes on different segments that present varied challenges. The time taken is also dependent on whether you take the hike alone, with a few friends, or with a large group. 

Groups take a little longer because they have to take longer breaks and coordinate movements throughout the hike.


How much does it cost to hike the Colorado Trail?

The journey through the Colorado Trail is a long one. If you plan on hiking the trail from start to end, you need to have enough supplies to last you the entire day. You can choose to bring your own supplies with you or choose to shop in the shops situated along the trail. 

Each hiker has different needs, and that can affect the amount they spend during the hike. For the average hiker, $1000 is enough for the entire journey without including shipping and transportation cost for their gear. 

Note, however, that stopping frequently will raise your spending. It is also better to sleep at camp instead of overnight stays at hotels, which do not come cheap. Unnecessary expenditure can also raise the amount you spend. 

Leisure activities like indulging in alcohol, for instance, will result in you spending a lot more.


How do I prepare for the Colorado Trail?

For you to have a successful hike on the Colorado Trail, you need to plan everything. That begins by choosing the hiking path that you will follow. Planning also guides your choice of gear and what equipment is necessary. 

For instance, there is no need for you to carry a sleeping bag along when you plan to hike only a small section of the trail that you can complete in a day. You can get maps and references about the trail on the Colorado foundation website. These will come in handy when planning details of the hike.

Choose whether hiking solo, with a friend, or with a group is good for you. Taking on the trail by yourself allows you to set your own pace. You also have more freedom regarding when to take a break, which locations you should capture in photos, and set which milestones you should reach each day. 

Photo by S&B Vonlanthen on Unsplash

However, you might be in trouble if you get an injury or run out of essential supplies when hiking solo. Taking a friend with you on the hike also makes the hike more enjoyable and fun. You can also help each other out in case one of you gets hurt. 

However, when you go hiking with a friend, you can only set the pace according to the weaker person’s ability. In this regard, pick a friend who matches your body fitness ability so that you can travel at the same pace. Hiking with a group is also fun. 

It helps to bring the cost down by sharing some of the expenses. The only downside of hiking in a group is that you will take more time to cover the trail. This is because each member has different abilities.

Each section of the trail presents a challenge. You, therefore, must be fit and in good shape. Frequent hikers should not have a problem since their bodies are used to being pushed to the limits. 

However, if exploring the Colorado Trail will be your first hike, you need to do some exercise beforehand to ensure that your body can withstand the hike’s ferocity. 

Running activities will help you to control breathing when you are worn out. Being in good body shape allows you to keep up with the other hikers when you are hiking as a team. Nothing is worse than the feeling of letting your team down when they have to slow down for you because you can’t keep up.

Photo by Georgia Wheatley on Unsplash

The whole Colorado trail is also a relatively high altitude area. People who reside in lower altitude regions might find it difficult to hike on the trail due to the sudden shift of environment. 

To mitigate this, hikers who come from low altitude regions are advised to travel to the section they plan on hiking a few days prior to the hike. This helps their bodies get acclimated to the high altitude. 

As a result, they experience an easier time during the hike. Traveling earlier also enables you to allow your body to rest before the start of the hike. It would help if you shed all the fatigue that comes with traveling to the trail by having enough sleep. Begin hiking on a fresh body to ensure you cover more ground in a short time.

Select the right gear and plan to replenish any items that may run out during the hike. You should pack light because you have to haul the hiking gear with you throughout the trail. 

Ensure that you have comfortable shoes and that you bring along waterproof clothes in case it rains. Because hiking the entire trail takes a long time, you cannot pack and carry everything you need at the start. 

Planning a replenishing schedule, therefore, is crucial. Knowing where shops are located along the route, you intend to follow ensures you have just enough items in your bag to see you through to the next point where you can refill your supplies. An excellent tip for optimizing your hike schedule is to plan breaks when you reach the replenishing point.

Check weather forecasts beforehand and plan accordingly. Always note, however, that weather patterns can change suddenly and ruin your plans. As such, be prepared for any eventualities by carrying the correct gear.

Moreover, inform friends and family about your plans to hike the Colorado Trail in advance and always keep constant communication with them. Phone network coverage along the trail is relatively good, which allows hikers to keep in touch throughout the course of the hike. 

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Additionally, remember to pack portable power supply accessories to juice up your phone when it runs out of charge. With your phone sufficiently charged, you will be at liberty to take more photos and videos to document your journey.


When to start the Colorado Trail?

According to the Colorado Foundation, the best time to plan a hike on the Colorado Trail is in July. During that time, the snow on the high points along the trail is melted, thus making hiking possible. 

Planning the hike for earlier times of the year can force you to postpone the hike due to unmanageable snow levels. When planning a hike on the Colorado Trail, you have a short window within which you should have completed hiking. 

Photo by Francesco Perego on Unsplash

You should schedule the hike to be complete before October because that is when snowstorms resume on the trail’s hilly parts. This means that you have to organize the hike in July, August, and September if you plan on covering the entire trail.

If you would be hiking on the shorter segments of the trail, however, you will have more months to work with. This is because the low altitude sections between Denver and Bailey are free of snowfall throughout the year. As a result, hikers can use these regions as practice points in October before hiking the Colorado Trail’s full length.