There is something majestic about the rugged hiking trails of Colorado. With 23 drop-off spots, each offering amazing views and challenges, hiking those trails truly makes a life-changing experience. There is so much to explore and more to discover. With only a few days up your sleeve, finding the best 3 days Colorado trail suggestion and planning can come handy.
Suggested 3-Day Colorado Trail Hikes
It is important to gauge your skills, level of fitness and hiking preferenes when planning a Colorado Trail quick adventure. With just 3 days on your calendar, it is simply impossible to cover a lot of mileage without any rest. You need to be ready for the long haul ahead and in doing so, you will also need to come prepared as things can suddenly go awry while on the trail.
When thinking of doing a 3-day adventure of a lifetime, you can choose various circuits to tickle your adrenaline-filled fancy. There’s the Continental Divide Loop right off the Rocky Mountain National Park. This trail does not see many hikers and is about 28.8 miles located near Grand Lake. It offers several activity options. Best time for hiking this trail is July to September. You can start off the Tonahutu-North Inlet Trailhead then, go East on the North Inlet Trail and then, the Flattop Mountain. Continue to the Continental Divide Scenic Trail unto the Tonahutu Creek Trail and vice versa. This trail is ok for beginners but if one is not absolutely fit , this one should be avoided becaus climbing the incline with weight on back is no joke, but a fit young group can manage it even if they are inexperienced hikers. The views are absolutely stunning in this trail with a great mix of wildlife, meadows, forest, waterfalls, and incredible views of the range at the top. Dont forget to bring bug spray as the bugs are quite heavy near the water.
Then, there’s the 40-mile Capitol Creek Circuit.
This is another less trafficed trail in Colorado as you will not find many hikers en route. Do not forget to bring gps and a physical map. Do your research before you start and be observant so that you are sure you are on the right course.
Very Important: If you are planning for this trail, DO NOT follow the All Trails map going south after Capitol Pass. Use the OCM map instead which is much more accurate. After you descend from Capitol Pass to the Avalanche Lake area, follow the obvious trail that crosses the creek(Avalanche/Silver Creek Trail on the OCM map.) If you follow the ALL Trails gps route it will take you off trail and up the steep hills. . After you descend from Snowmass Lake, cross the knee high creek onto private property to follow West Snowmass trail. The gps shows that the creek crossing is further ahead… that is incorrect. Also after you ascend Haystack mountain on the east side, follow the obvious trail to descend the west side.
Eaglesmere-Surprise Lake Loop is a great loop through the Eagle’s Nest Wilderness using the Eaglesmere Trail, Gore Range Trail, and Surprise Lake Trail.
This trail starts from an area that has legitimate parking for about 8-9 cars. It begins with several short, steep sections in the first mile. So using trekking poles is a good idea. Once you reach the first fork, take the right which goes uphill. You will find several trees blown down along the way, and the trail becomes narrow in places where it follows the contour of a slope. There’s no water on this part of the trail so be careful about the water you are carrying. You will get great views of Cataract Lake down in the bottom of the valley from time to time. Keep a watch for a sign for the Gore Range Trail, which mentions Eaglesmere Lake. Go right to the lake, where there’s a well-established camp spot near the shore. This is an ideal spot to spend the night.
Weminuche Pass-Granite Lakes – You can start this hike from the Thirtymile campground and head on to the east end of the Rio Grand Reservoir which is at the west side of the town of Creede. Camping beside the beautiful Granite Lake in the heart of the wilderness is one of the best experience is this trail. Once you leave the Granite Lake head west towards the Continental Divide before returning via another trail.
You can also begin this hike with a gradual climb on the Weminuche Trail to a height of 10,650 ft. Weminuche Pass is situated in a wide open valley surrounded by forested peaks. You can camp on the south side of the pass and then continue south on the Pine Rim Trail. Then head towards the Divide Lakes Trail briefly before taking a detour onto the Granite Lakes trail.
Granite Lake which is surrounded by hilly forest on three sides provides a great view and great spot to spend the night. Next day you can continue your hike by returning back toward Weminuche Pass through a different route. Follow the southern shoreline of Granite Lake moving first towards south and then east. Continue further in southeast direction leaving the lake behind and moving off trail into a meadow before looping back north and uphill to connect to the Weminuche Trail.
So whether you meant to just see the melting snow caps on the high peaks or simply breathe in the piney mountain air or sit back and relax listening to gurgling rivers and brooks as you traverse those trails right beneath star-studded skies, these tips below can come handy.
1. It’s all about the planning. Hiking the Rockies is no easy feat. While you may have limited your hiking plans to a mere 3 days, it is essential to plan ahead. You need to be abreast with the trail’s inclement weather, its challenging terrain, safe water sources, food sources, high altitude, hiking gear and equipment, defense in the wild, and so on. Map out your trip according to your fitness level and skills. With various apps and online sources to map out your Colorado hike grid, enjoying a memorable trip may be at hand.
2. Brush up on your geography. The Colorado Hiking Trail is not all mountains and snow peaks. There are flat, rolling plains as there are sharp rocky and snowy peaks. Then, there’s an arid scenery of buttes, mesas and canyons. Keep in mind that the Rockies is the very epitome of how magical nature is. Dividing the Pacific and Atlantic watersheds, these awe-inspiring areas make the popular Continental Divide. Learning about where you go and what to expect ultimately leans on knowing about the area you have chosen for the hike.
3. Be wary of altitude sickness. The fun and excitement always happen on top of the Colorado Trail. Known for its high altitude, hiking for days on the Rockies will expose you not only to severe weather conditions, dehydration, and waterborne parasites but most often to altitude sickness. From shortness of breath, nausea and headache, it can go worst with a nosebleed or disorientation leading to accidents. If this is your first time to hike there, it is wise to give your body needed time to adjust. As much as possible, climb high and sleep low. Feel free to scale the mountains during daytime but make sure to camp at a lower altitude during rest time.
Of lightnings and thunderstorms. The Rockies are also notorious for thunderstorms and jaw-dropping lightning which is a major issue during the summer especially. Thunderstorms typically form around early noon time as the airflow across the North American region get infused with strong day heat can. It is best to start early in the day.
The problem, however, is not just about accompanying lightning or the thunderstorm per se. At times, such phenomenon can bring in strong winds, torrential downpour, hail or even a tornado. Prevent becoming one of the statistics by carefully choosing your hike time and location. Seek shelter but avoid isolated trees, cave entrance, open pits, and rock outcrops. Spread out if you’re hiking with other people, too. When the inevitable happens, simply crouch down and make yourself less targeted as possible.
4. Ditch the cold. Hypothermia kills. While a 3-day Colorado Trail hike may seem like a short course, getting yourself frosty out there can only take a few minutes. One of the common causes of hypothermia is inadequate clothing as well as ineffective waterproofing. Take note on the list of clothing acceptable when traversing those trails. Be prepared, too, as what may start as a sunny escapade can easily turn into a Winter Wonderland in just a matter of seconds.
6. Treat your water right. Even when on a 3-day hike only, it is pretty impractical to have gallons of water with you. Make good use of streams, rivers, or perhaps, alpine lakes. These are excellent sources of drinking water allowing you to hydrate successfully. Simply bring along a Lifestraw to know the difference– and pack less than intended.
Note: Some lakes and streams in the CT can be infested with miniscule waterborne parasites called Giardia. Take time to boil or purify your water to help prepare for the long haul ahead.
7. Come prepared or don’t go at all. Always have adequate gear when deciding to do any of the hiking trails mentioned above. Most important aspects are– sleeping accommodations, shelter, food, and so on. Sleeping bag must be waterproof and insulated from the cold. A good tent that’s easy to set-up will most definitely fit the bill. Other needs include: a good backpack, sleeping bag/pad, camp stove or gas fire-making materials, shoe wear, and so on. A good topographic map on your destination of choice will ultimately make the hiking activity more fun and entertaining.
If you are planning hiking in Rocky Mountain National parks there are certain precautions to take which is discussed below:
Rocky Mountain National Parks can really get hot during the summer months. Be careful and watch out for signs of heat exhaustion. If you have planned to trail this part of the country, first aid training is a must as you would know the signs of heat exhaustion and what you should do if you or someone in your hiking group has any of these signs.
To help avoid this situation it is mandatory to stay well hydrated. Always carry enough sunscreen and wear head protection like that of a baseball cap or a wide-brimmed hat.
Another thing to watch out for is ticks. They are most active during spring and early summer. Several diseases, like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, can be transmitted by ticks. If bitten, completely remove attached ticks and disinfect the site. If you find rashes or lesions forming around the bite, consult a physician.
You should also be careful about bears as between 20 and 35 black bears live in Rocky Mountain National Park. While being able to see a bear is often the most exciting experience, proper visitor behavior in bear country is necessary. Understand some basic behavior of bears and more importantly, learn how to avoid them and what to do if you see one
Rocky Mountain National Park is also home to cougars. Although the chance of seeing one is fairly rare, still hikers should take precautions from an accidental encounter. It’s best not to hike alone, keep making noise to avoid surprising a cougar which can lead to an attack. In the rare chance if you do encounter a mountain lion(cougar), don’t run. Talk calmly, avert your gaze, stand tall, and back away. Unlike the bears, if an attack seems imminent, act aggressively. Never crouch and do not turn your back to it. In general, they may be scared away by being struck with rocks or sticks. These animals are primarily nocturnal, but there have been a few cases where they have attacked in broad daylight.
Joy and bliss overload will be felt by many who enjoy the 3 days Colorado Trail suggestion and planning. It’s a dream come true to most anyone that have gone through those various trails mentioned getting nothing in return. With the right planning and implementation of the proposed scheme, you can finally rest easy knowing that you got yourself appropriate protection needed. Cheers!