Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
2,900.00 ft (883.92 m)
Trail type
Shuttle
Distance
14.80 mi (23.82 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 Segment 21.

 

Colorado Trail Segment 21

San Luis Pass to Spring Creek Pass Trailhead

 

Segment 21 begins at San Luis Pass. Please note that this is not a trailhead you can drive to. The nearest trailhead is West Willow Creek - just over a mile to the south (via trail) off Forest Road 503. To access this trailhead you’ll need a 4WD vehicle. Once you’ve finally found your way to the Colorado Trail, a steep climb up to a high point awaits. The views from here are simply stunning and remain that way as you continue onward. A few more steep climbs and descents wait until the trail finally flattens out and remains above tree line as it nears Snow Mesa.

This next section of trail marks a vast change in terrain from the previous stretch. Snow Mesa is a huge open expanse of tundra with views stretching for miles and miles. This is not the place to find yourself exposed in a storm - weather can move in quickly and there is nowhere to hide at 12,000 feet up on the mesa. As the trail works its way across the undulating terrain you’ll eventually come to the edge of the mesa.

After the descent from Snow Mesa, the Colorado Trail continues downhill all the way to Spring Creek Pass. Thru-hikers often hitch from here into the small town of Lake City for resupply and rest (about 17 miles to the north via Highway 149). The Spring Creek Pass Trailhead also has picnic tables and a vault toilet.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Amazing views. Snow Mesa.

Cons

Hard to access trailhead. Exposed terrain.

Trailhead Elevation

11,935.00 ft (3,637.79 m)

Highest point

12,872.00 ft (3,923.39 m)

Features

Backcountry camping
Wildlife
Big vistas
Big Game Watching
Wildflowers
Bird watching

Typically multi-day

Yes

Suitable for

Horseback

Permit required

No

Location

Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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