Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
2,627.00 ft (800.71 m)
Trail type
13.60 mi (21.89 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 9.

Segment 9 begins from Tennessee Pass, where the town of Leadville is accessible to the south via Highway 24. The segment begins with nice, easy hiking through the forest. You’ll come to a swinging bench right alongside the trail. It is a wonderful place for a sit. You’ll also notice some large cabins in the distance, unfortunately these are rental cabins and not for hikers.

Continuing on you’ll cross over Wurts Ditch (a stream), and then begin to have some great views of Mt. Massive and Mt. Elbert in the distance. The trail will then cross over West Tennessee Creek, a good water source with some camping nearby.

You’ll then soon enter the Holy Cross Wilderness. The scenery here is nice, but there are a few steep climbs. Thankfully these climbs are relatively short. The mosquitoes are also notoriously bad through this stretch if hiking during the summer months.

After descending form a high point you’ll come to a junction where you can turn off to popular Bear Lake. Continue straight on the Colorado Trail. The trail then passes by a couple of small but scenic lakes.

You’ll have one more climb, then a steep and steady descent down to the Timberline Lake Trailhead. This marks the end of Segment 9.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Some nice views in the Holy Cross Wilderness.


A few steep climbs. Mosquitoes can be bad during the summer.

Trailhead Elevation

10,444.00 ft (3,183.33 m)

Highest point

11,713.00 ft (3,570.12 m)


Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required




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