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Colorado Trail Sections 1-3
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Colorado Trail Sections 1-3

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Colorado Trail Sections 1-3

Page Type: Trail

Location: Colorado, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 39.48814°N / 105.10654°W

Trail Type: Cross Country

County: Jefferson

Technical Difficulty: Easy

Aerobic Difficulty: Easy

Layout: Point to Point

Elevation Gain: 3000 ft / 914 m

Length: 40.0 Mi / 64.4 Km

Route Quality: 
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Page By: jeremyhakes

Created/Edited: Apr 18, 2008 / Jun 23, 2009

Object ID: 266169

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Page Score: 74.01%  - 4 Votes 

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Overview

The entire Colorado Trail goes from Denver (Waterton Canyon) to Durango, taking up 476 miles. The biking CT is a little longer (500+ miles) since you can't ride bikes through wilderness areas, and a few times detours exist to take you on FS roads or other doubletrack. These 3 sections are the closest to the Front Range, and are the most accessible. The Buffalo Creek biking area is a Colorado IMBA Epic trail. Highly recommended.

These three sections can be done as out-and-backs, point-point with a shuttle, or any combination thereof with camping in the Pike National Forest.

Trail Description

Trail starts out as fire road, changes to double track, then almost exclusively singletrack. Usually decomposed Pikes Peak granite, sometimes a little sandy, a little clay. Usually very quick riding stuff.

Section 1 - 16.8 miles, 2160' gain
Section 2 - 11.5 miles, 2200' gain
Section 3 - 12.7 miles, 1520' gain

Section 1 may be the most boring for bikers, especially going from 1-2 (2-1 provides good downhill!) This starts in the remnant town of Kassler and follows the South Platte River through Waterton Canyon and part of Roxborough Park to the remnant town of South Platte, at County road 96.

Section 2 is good, clean, singletrack fun. It goes through the 1996 Buffalo Creek Fire and passes by the Top of the World Campground (closed, burned completely) and ends at the Long Scraggy TH (day use parking fee) at FS 550.

Section 3 is also great fun. The track changes a little to dirt here, with all of the branch trails coming off it that make up the Buffalo Creek IMBA Epic Ride. It goes from the Long Scraggy TH/FS 550 to Wellington Lake Road, FS 560. There are some very steep parts at the west end, providing big ups and downs for climbs/descents.

Getting There

Section 1 - Take C-470 to the Wadsworth Exit, head south, and take a left at South Platte River Road (popular day use area). Head west into the obvious canyon. Bathroom facilities exist here).

Section 2 - Take Hwy 285 west to Pine Junction, turn south, head down to Pine, drive through town, turn left at the junction with the north fork of the South Platte, head east to the remnant town of South Platte following County Road 96 to the TH (prominent bridge, bathroom facilities).

Section 3 - Follow the previous directions for Section 2, except instead of turning on C-96, keep heading south through the town of Buffalo Creek and head uphill until you see the Long Scraggy TH on your right. Bathroom facilities exist here, too. Day use fee applies).

You can also park off of CR68 (Wellington Lake Road) at the Rolling Creek/CT TH. You can ride west or south from here to the boundary of the wilderness area, or head east along the CT. Some sections are brutally steep near 550.

When to Bike

Spring, Summer, Fall. Mid-day temps can be exceedingly hot, and the trail is exposed with little shade in many places due to the canyons, burns, and open terrain. Water is available in the river, but it must be treated before drinking.

Links & Other info

Colorado Trail Foundation - Biking the Trail

Section info for 1-3 here.

Forest Service info

Personal Recommendation

We rode the CT from the LS TH ENE to the WC TH on the CT yesterday. Fantastic ride, but I HIGHLY recommend riding it west to east, as we did. Final stats (per GPS and also odometer) were: 28.3 miles (GPS) 29.1 miles (bike odometer), 2800' of gain, 5100' of descent. I have heard rumor of some folks riding it the other direction, but I have no idea why you'd want to do that. The hardest part is getting a shuttle set up so you don't have to go back and pick up a vehicle from the LSTH - about a 3 hour RT from WC.

The biggest climb riding from west to east comes in at mile 12.6, riding section 2 east. This is the majority of the 2000' of climbing, spread over 4 miles, with a great grade. Nicely built, not too techy. At mile 20 (w-e), there is the last of the climbs. After that, it is all down hill (with the ever present headwind at Waterton Canyon).

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