Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
3,750.00 ft (1,143.00 m)
Trail type
15.70 mi (25.27 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Completed in 1987, the Colorado Trail stretches 485 magnificent miles from Denver to Durango. Along the way it meanders through high alpine mountains and valleys, offering a glimpse at some of the finest terrain Colorado has to offer. It traverses eight mountain ranges, six wilderness areas and stays above 10,000’ for the majority of the trail. Highlights include the Collegiate Range, where multiple 14ers are just off trail and can easily be climbed, and the San Juans, where the trail remains above tree line for days at a time and climbs to elevations of over 13,000’. There is also abundant wildlife along the Colorado Trail, ranging in size from small pika and marmot, to bear and moose.

The trail is divided into 28 different segments, each beginning at a trailhead accessible by vehicle. This accessibility is what makes the Colorado Trail special. Day hikers and section hikers can easily find their way to new segments of trail, while thru hikers can still enjoy a wild and rugged four to six week journey. Below is a description for Colorado Trail Collegiate West Segment 5.

This Segment begins at Boss Lake Trailhead. You’ll cross over the Middle Fork of the South Arkansas River via footbridge, then begin the first of several steep ascents. The trail mellows out for a minute when you get to Boss Lake Reservoir. You’ll carry onward and then have another ascent.

Next the trail passes by beautiful Hunt Lake. Take some time to enjoy this lake before making another ascent up to another small pond. The scenery around here turns stunning as you have views up toward rugged Bald Mountain.

You’ll then have one final steep and sustained ascent to the ridge above. The views from here looking back down to the small lake backdropped against rugged Bald Mountain are incredible. Continue as the trail leads gradually downhill away from the big mountains.

After the descent you’ll begin to enter Monarch Mountain Ski Area. There are a few small ups and downs as you follow dirt roads through the resort. After leaving the ski area the trail continues to follow dirt roads for a short distance before veering off onto single track trail.

This single track will descend and take you down to Monarch Pass and Highway 50. There is a small store here with gifts and some food. The town of Salida can also be accessed from here. You’ll then follow a dirt/gravel road as it ascends from the pass.

The trail will turn back to single track as you get out of the forest and up to the Monarch Crest. This stretch of hiking is really enjoyable as the trail sticks to the ridge and offers fantastic views. Continue along the ridge until you come to a sign marking the Collegiate West and Collegiate East junction. You are now officially back on the Colorado Trail. Continue straight. This marks the end of the Collegiate West Route.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Stunning mountain views. Nice Lakes.

Trailhead Elevation

10,518.00 ft (3,205.89 m)

Highest point

12,543.00 ft (3,823.11 m)


Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required



Nearby Lodging + Camping

Sawatch Range + Elk Mountains, Colorado
Sawatch Range + Elk Mountains, Colorado
Grand Mesa Uncompahgre + Gunnison National Forests


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