Hiking the Colorado Trail | Segments 13-15

Sunrise in Colorado

The Colorado Trail is unlike anything we have ever done before. The trail is nearly 500 miles long and goes from the outskirts of Denver to Durango. We’ve spent a lot of time in Colorado, but spending 40 days out in the backcountry and hitchhiking into the small Colorado mountain towns along the way is, in our opinion, the best way to experience the state.

We started the Colorado Trail on June 26th, 2022 going south and finished on August 4th. It was an experience we will never forget and one we want to share with you.

The trail is split into 28 segments, each of which are completely different. These were our experiences from segments eleven through thirteen of the Colorado Trail.

If you missed segments 1-13 of the Colorado Trail make sure to checkout our blogs below before continuing on!

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Road Beers & Hotsprings: Segment 13

We woke up to the sound of the river and began to pack up our things. Several other hikers had camped in the area so we made sure to do our best not to wake them. There was a steep climb coming and we did our best to get our bodies warmed up and our minds right. From the segment thirteen trailhead (mile 210) to the top of the climb (mile 213.4) we had almost 3,000 feet in elevation gain.

After getting a nice little sweat and leg burn up the mountain we made it to the top. We all caught our breath for a few minutes and then decided to make our way down the mountain another three miles and try to get a ride into Buena Vista. We had heard rumor of a pizza place that was pretty good and our stomachs were growling!

At the bottom of the climb there was a parking lot but it wasn’t very busy. We walked a little more down to the main road and started to put up our thumbs once again. Two more hikers were standing near us who were also trying to get a ride, but after they realized our chances of getting a ride were slim with all of us in a group, they decided to try hitchhiking a couple hundred feet down the road.

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It didn’t take long before our Buena Vista trail angel, Rob, stopped by to lend a hand! Rob had a cabin in the area that he spends time at, when he’s not in his home state of Oklahoma, and offered us a few road beers for our nine mile ride into town.

Buena Vista Colorado
Selfie with Rob

Rob dropped us off at the pizza place and said if we ended up needing a ride back out to the trailhead just to give him a call. We said our goodbyes and sat down for a good grub session. I’m not sure what people think is good pizza, but that place definitely wasn’t it.

We finished the last sips of our soda and headed to the grocery store for one last opportunity at some goodies before getting back on to the trail. The afternoon clouds came in once again and we waited for the rain to stop while we waited underneath the grocery store roofing.

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The grocery store was pretty close to the main road that would take us back out to the trail so we started walking until we made it about half a mile out of the center of town. “Thumbs up!”

  • Hitchhiking the Colorado Trail

Again only a few moments went by before yet another trail angel, Caroline, came to save the day! She was also about to embark on a Colorado Trail adventure with her bike and she thought she might get a little extra good karma for helping us out. We hope you got a little extra good karma Caroline!

Trail Angels
Selfie with Caroline

It was getting into the late afternoon and in a couple of miles we were going to have another good climb. We walked a bit more down the trail and found a good spot for the night that was right at the base of the mountain. The mosquitos were pretty terrible so we all hopped in our tents and called it an early night.

The next morning we woke up and proceeded to clean up camp as usual. Something didn’t seem right.

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Fecteau was on the ground and Hugs said that Fecteau was acting funny. Hugs tried to get him to go to the bathroom during the night but Fecteau just kept making whining noises. Now he laid there on the ground and he didn’t want to get up.

We knew that Fecteau’s body was hurting, but him not moving at all kind of came out of nowhere. Hugs said he needed to get Fecteau to a vet and we immediately offered to help him get back to the main road for a hitchhike back into Buena Vista. Hugs leaned down to pick up Fecteau and the yelp that came after made us all hurt. You could tell that Hugs was very upset and to be honest with you it was hard to hold back the tears for all of us.

Eventually we got Fecteau to get up by himself and we started walking towards the road. You could tell he was hurting but we just didn’t know why. We got them to the road and we knew our time together was over.

Colorado Trail
Fecteau & Hugs

It was hard saying goodbye. We felt bad for Fecteau because we knew how badly he wanted to keep going; we felt bad for Hugs because we had formed such a friendship with him; and we felt bad for Nemo because she had just lost her best friend.

Thankfully Fecteau made a full recovery! The vet said that he had a bruised spine and after a few days of rest he was feeling as good as new! It was a bummer the team couldn’t keep hiking together but we are thankful for the time we did have together and that Fecteau didn’t have any serious issues!

Our goodbyes were said and the show had to continue. I remember the sunrise being extra beautiful that morning and it reminded me to be thankful for every moment we got out on the trail.

Sunrise in Colorado

Grace and I had shipped our next resupply box to Mount Princeton Hot Springs and with it only being eleven miles away we knew we could atleast make it there before deciding our next move. The hiking was different without Hugs and Fecteau. Not better or worse, just different.

Mount Princeton Hotsprings
Paved road coming into Mount Princeton

As you make your way down the hill you hit a dirt road for a bit and it eventually turns into pavement (pictured above). We found it a bit odd that no one with property along the road wants to help out by adding to the trail! The road isn’t that busy though so as long as you’re paying attention, you should be good getting down to Mount Princeton.

As soon as we made it down we got ourselves some cold beverages from the convinience store and went to the main building to pick up our resupply boxes. They had trouble finding them at first but thankfully they ended up figuring out where they were. We were a bit worried at first!

  • Mount Princeton Hotsprings

We ended up deciding to splurge on a room and enjoy ourselves at the hot springs for the day. We hadn’t had any time alone for a while and we wanted to treat ourselves while we had the opportunity.

The salads at their restaurant were a solid 10/10, the hot springs were very relaxing (free wristbands with a hotel room), and overall it was a very nice experience. Was it expensive? Yes. Would we do it again? Yes.

Checkpoint Salida: Segment 14

The next day we got everything reorganized and made our way to segment fourteen. The walk was only a couple of miles down a paved road to the Chalk Creek Trailhead.

Chalk Creek Trailhead

The weather was perfect for hiking and we started our ascent to the top of our first climb for the day. We saw several day hikers out on the trail because it was the weekend but it was far less busy compared to the trails over by Breckenridge during the weekend.

Segment 14 of the Colorado Trail

Our bodies felt refreshed from the hot springs and we made good time through the mountains. The climbing eased up a bit and it was pretty minimal up and down all day. We had made it about fourteen miles when we got hit with another lighting and hail storm and found some cover under a couple of trees.


Hiking with storms! So exhilarating! #coloradotrail @frogg_toggs

♬ original sound – Matt & Grace

When the storm passed we continued hiking. We didn’t know where we wanted to camp so we just kept on hiking looking for a flat piece of land where we could set up our tent.

We passed the trailhead that gets you up to Mt. Shavano and ran into a funny character who rambled on about there being margaritas up on the summit. He made little to no sense (one margarita too many) and we laughed with him. He was ECSTATIC about the group of hikers up on top who were handing out endless margaritas.

The Angel of Shavano Campground was just down the hill and we figured that if there wasn’t a campsite available there would surely be some spots to set up the tent nearby.

Altogether we hiked almost eighteen miles for the day and setup camp near the campground before making some dinner and laying down for the night. In six miles we would have another opportunity to hitchhike into Salida.

The next morning we ate some Bobs Red Mill oat bars for a quick breakfast and then got the legs toasty on a 600 foot incline over the next mile and a half. Nemo chased a few deer into the woods, as usual, and we made it down to the road by about midmorning for a hitchhike.

Colorado Mountain lake

Can you guess what happened next? Yup, another trail angel! This time Mike came to save the day!

He was a bit bummed because it was one of his few days off of river guiding and his bike had broke just before he was about to take it out on some trails. Apparently there are some of the best biking trails in the US outside of Salida.

We told him we were sorry that he wasn’t able to get out on the trails but that we were very appreciative he offered to take us into town. It wasn’t a super long hitch into town but it certainly wasn’t a close hitch either.

Hitchhiking into Salida
Selfie with Mike

Mike took us into downtown Salida where he was getting his bike fixed and told us about some of his favorite food spots in town before saying goodbye. There weren’t a ton of gluten free restaurants but if you don’t have any food restrictions there are quite a few options.

People had told us about a couple of different hostels in Salida so we looked into them to see if we could get a room for the night. Like usual, most of the lodging is not dog friendly and most of them required reservations as well. We ended up finding a hostel that was just a little bit out of town called Haydukes Hideout and with no other option we started heading that way.

Haydukes Hideout

Haydukes Hideout ended up being a super laid back hostel with all the basic necessities a hiker could need. They have laundry, showers, comfy seating, resupply extras, and you can send your resupply box there if you plan on stopping in Salida. The owners are thru hikers themselves and are super cool to talk with!

Grace ended up getting really sick and was throwing up all night so when the morning came we made the decision to get a hotel room for the night. We needed to have as much energy as possible moving forward and laying around in a hot garage at the hostel all day wasn’t going to do that for us.

Most hotels in the area wouldn’t allow dogs or were fully booked. Salida is a very popular destination for outdoor adventures, especially in the Summer. We found one hotel with a room available and bit the bullet on yet another hotel room.

We got a few things from Walmart, closed the blinds, turned on the television, and locked the door. I also ended up catching some sort of bug and now all we could do is drink water and hope we started to feel better. Grace threw up several more times that day and the next day we had to buckle up and get back on the road to catch a ride to the trailhead.

Colorado Trail Angels

We had seen this list of trail angels for the Salida area while at Haydukes Hideout and tried calling the few names that were available for the summer but none of them worked out. “Thumbs out!”

As we waited on the road outside of the Walmart a guy came walking toward us. His trail name was “one speed” and he was also looking for a ride out to the trailhead. “Thumbs out!”

We weren’t having any luck at first and then guess what… another trail angel! I’m a little upset I don’t remember her name but another big thank you goes to the lady in the picture below! Also a big thank you to Grace! If Grace wasn’t in the group we would have never gotten a ride! The trail angel made that abundantly clear she never picks up men.

Hitchhiking segment 15 of the colorado trail

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The pictures of the mountains in the upcoming segments are about to take your breath away!

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