In 2014 I decided to attempt a thru-hike of the Colorado Trail. At the time, I had no idea what I was getting myself in to. My backpacking trips up to that point had been relatively short, and the Colorado Trail was a big leap into the great unknown of long-distance hiking. As a Colorado native, I have strong feelings about Colorado, and was looking forward to the opportunity to experience the state in a way I hadn’t before.
Then, in 2020 the COVID pandemic and a very sick cat derailed my plans to hike the Arizona Trail. As our cat’s FIP treatment outcome ended up being successful in August of 2020, I decided it was time to try and get some hiking in before the pandemic got worse. I decided a thru-hike of the Colorado Trail was in order.
I decided to do some minor amounts of filming on my 2020 thru-hike. My abbreviated experience can be seen below.
Colorado Trail Thru-Hiking?
I would strongly encourage thru-hiking the Colorado Trail. It’s an absolutely beautiful trail. A thru-hike can be completed in around a month, and it does not require permits. In a non-pandemic year, there are plenty of resupply opportunities and great little trail towns to spend time in.
For more information on my colorado trail thru-hiking experiences, please see my hiking years below:
Is it challenging to plan?
If you’re new to thru-hiking, planning can be a daunting task. There are several things that have made thru-hiking easier and easier over time. This includes:
- New cellphone apps, such as GutHook Guides, that take the challenges out of way-finding and trail conditions.
- The Colorado Trail Databook is also a phenomenal resource for planning and getting a better sense of the trail with a physical guide.
My approach to planning is a multi-step process:
- Find a guide that details waypoints and resupplies (e.g. GutHook)
- Determine how many miles per day you physically will want to hike over time (this actual number is likely to change).
- Create an excel sheet that shows how many miles you’ll be hiking each day, and where you’re likely to resupply. Here’s an example of my 2020 Colorado Trail itinerary.
- Aim to resupply every 2.5 – 5 days (my 2020 resupply schedule was based around COVID)
- Determine which resupply points have stores or gas stations, and which resupplies you might need to mail to yourself. In general, you should try to avoid sending yourself things, and aim to resupply at locations near the trail (learned from personal experience).
Once you have your itinerary and plan, go ahead and go hiking! Having your travel itinerary drafted is one of the most important things that can be done from a safety standpoint, and is a great way to budget time and resources. It also allows you to learn about the trail before you’re out there! Your trail itinerary is a rough guide, and things on the trail will certainly end up causing changes.