The Colorado Trail, or the simply, the CT. Stringing from Waterton Canyon south of Denver, all the way to Junction Creek Trailhead just outside of Durango. The CT is a masterpiece that offers up so much potential adventure for hikers, bikers, and equestrians. The Colorado Trail is a beast, averaging 10,300′ above sea level and topping out at 13,271′, there isn’t much oxygen and the climbs are seemingly endless. No matter how one takes on the CT, there isn’t much about it that’s easy.
The CT passes thru 6 Wilderness Areas, this is where the Colorado Trail Race and the Colorado Trail differ. Mountain Bikes are not allowed within the Wilderness and therefor the CTR detours from the CT proper. Thus the Race ends up being a bit longer, but also a touch less elevation gain and loss. CTR riders will be looking at about 525 miles and over 70,000′ of climbing and descending. While there are plenty of wonderful sections of flowing, ridable trail on the CTR, there’s also miles upon miles of scraggy, rocky, rough, washed out trail that will force most if not all to hike-a-bike. The trail is often gorgeous and just as often, it is hideous and gnarly.
As anyone who has hiked or ridden the CT would report, it is not for the faint of heart. The CT will inspire you, but not until it beats you down. It is gorgeous beyond words, there are spots along the CT that are among the most beautiful in the world. The riding will make you hoot and holler, and seconds later curse the sky. Much like life, it is wonderful, and so damn hard.
Don’t be scared away by the difficulty of the trail, instead be inspired to do your research. There are countless stories, blog posts, time splits, finishing times, etc, with which to educate yourself and be prepared!