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 twenty-one through twenty-four of the Colorado Trail.
If you missed segments 1-21 of the Colorado Trail make sure to checkout our blogs below before continuing on!
By clicking on the links in this blog you’ll be one step closer to some sweet outdoor gear and we’ll get a small kickback to help feed our dogs.
Rollercoaster Ride: Segment 21
When we made it into Creede we first needed food, and then we needed to find a place to stay. Creede is an interesting town because we noticed all the tourists there were from Texas. There were a lot of food options, but most of them consisted of hot dogs, burgers, and bbq. Due to all of Grace’s food allergies there were hardly any food choices, unless we wanted to get some garden salads, which honestly still probably would’ve been cross contaminated. We went to the grocery store, but again there were very little food options. We settled on frosted flakes and oat milk.
After crushing the frosted flakes we called around to see if we could get a hotel room for the night. There were a few options but they were either all booked or not dog friendly.
We heard about a hostel in the area from one of our TikTok followers. It was her brother’s place and she said he had just recently started up the hostel. There wasn’t a lot of information available about the hostel, but thankfully we ran into another hiker who said it was just down the road.
The hostel’s name is John’s Hostel (which isn’t tagged on the FarOut App) and it was just what we were looking for. The hostel is a separate house across from his place and for a donation you can stay the night, take a hot shower, do laundry, cook a nice meal in the kitchen area, and even watch some TV! We met a ton of awesome hikers here and there’s a variety of sleeping options. There are three bedrooms with beds and plenty of space on the ground to put your sleeping bag. First come first serve and please leave a donation so John can keep helping out other hikers!
The following day some of the hikers from our hostel arranged a ride back to the trail with a fellow named Ben Jammin. There used to be a list of people who would help take hikers back to the trailhead but now Ben Jammin is the only guy who will help you out. He does have a bit of drinking a problem but other than that he’s a great guy with a huge personality who likes helping out hikers.
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When he arrived to the hostel we were all a bit skeptical and intrigued at the fact he said he could fit us all into one load. He also had just told us that not even an hour prior his car had overheated getting up the mountain. No worries though, he made sure to get some engine coolant before picking us up!
We strapped our bags to the top of his car with his only available strap and he told us if we made it up the mountain it would be an all-time record for the number of hikers in one trip. Eight people and one dog, here we go!
It was quite the ride up to say the least! But you know what? Ben Jammin got the job done! We all piled out of the rig and made our way the couple of miles back to the trailhead. Grace and I said our farewells and then began segment twenty-one, also known as the roller coaster.
My energy was still low, but after having basically an entire day of rest and eating as much as I could I felt a bit better. The first climb up really got the sweat rolling down the knees and we could tell that the views were about to get a hell of a lot better. We were now nearing our way into the San Juan Mountains.
After making it down the first roller coaster I was already exhausted and we looked at our map to see how far it was until our next climb. We hiked a few miles until we got about half a mile from the next ascent and called it quits for the day. We set up the tent and I did my best to muster in half a dehydrated meal. I was feeling pretty worn out but if we could just make it to the next segment we would be able to get a ride into Lake City and maybe there I could make another effort at regaining some energy.
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The following morning we got up and at em bright and early. Checkpoint Lake City here we come! The next roller coaster got us nice and toasty as we looped through the beautiful back country of Colorado. We ran into some familiar faces and took a break once we reached the top of the climb.
We knew there was going to be another storm coming in that afternoon so we grabbed a quick bite to eat and then started making our way down. The rest of the segment was flat as we walked through the mountain flatland before making our decent down the to the road.
When we made it down to the road there were two other hikers also waiting for a ride. After half an hour there was another hiker. Five hikers and a dog is not exactly the ideal way of getting a hitch into town.
The storm started to come in and we sought cover under a pavilion area at the trailhead across the road. We waited another fifteen minutes or so before Grace finally decided to take one for the team and go back out in the rain to the road to put her thumb up. Thanks Grace!
A sheriff drove by and pulled over to talk to Grace. He said he wouldn’t be able to offer us a ride but wished us luck and gave her a few dog treats for Nemo. He also gave Grace a glimpse of hope when he said there’s a good chance she would be able to get some french fries in town!
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Another fifteen minutes went by and a suburban signaled for Grace to come back over to the parking lot. The kind gentleman’s name was Henry and he was a part of the phenomenal Lake City road angel crew who comes out to the trailhead almost everyday at 12:30 to pick up hikers! He was the sweetest old guy and made us tear up a bit when he said that people like us were what gave him hope for this world. I wish I could remember exactly what he said, but nonetheless he was one of those people you meet that just fills your heart and makes you smile.
Henry dropped us off at the River Fork RV Park and Campground in town and we thanked him and his wife for all that they do. There is also a hostel in town, The Ravens Hostel, but they are a bit more expensive and not dog friendly.
The River Fork RV Park and Campground was a nice spot in the middle of town. At only $10 per person to set up our tent, plus hot showers and laundry if needed, we had nothing to complain about.
Lake City is another town FULL of Texans and we can see why Henry was telling us he was so upset with what the town has turned into. Nothing against Texans, but apparently a large group of them purchased homes in Lake City and over the years have passed legislation to allow UTV’s to roam freely in town limits. Let’s just say it can get a bit loud and obnoxious come midmorning and throughout the rest of the day.
The town has several places to eat but if you’re vegan or have food allergies don’t expect a whole lot of options. The sheriff was right though! We did find some french fries!
We made our way to the Post Office at the other end of town to get our second to last resupply box and then found a grocery store that had a variety of Backpacker’s Pantry dishes that Grace could eat. She said they’re hidden by the cash register so be sure to ask if you’re looking for them!
The Colorado Trail is an awesome trail for anyone looking to experience a thru-hike for the first time. Resupplying is a factor you will want to consider before beginning. Like other thru-hikes, you can choose to rely on towns you’ll pass along the trail; but,…
Several of our hiking friends we had met along the way (Banger, Sweet Potato and Traffic) were staying at the RV Park and it was really nice getting to know them and listening to their stories.
I still wasn’t feeling well and after talking with the other hikers they thought I might have gotten sick from water (based off my symptoms). There was a peace pipe being passed around however, and after a few tokes my appetite came back and I began to feel a bit better. I stuffed my face with as much food as I could manage and we got on in our tent for the night.
The next morning we got packed up and then made our way to the bagel shop, Beggin For Bagels, in town. This is a definite must stop shop if you’re in town! They’ve got all kinds of bagels, including gluten free, and they have all sorts of spreads and toppings to build out your ideal bagel sandwich!
After crushing a couple of bagel sandwiches we went to the downtown area to wait by the library for ride out of town. Like we said earlier, the trail community in Lake City is awesome and they offer rides back to the trailhead every morning!
Banger, who ended up being one of our favorite hiking friends we made, offered to get us some coffee and one more round of sorbet before going back to the trail. That’s an offer we could not refuse!
The shuttle came at noon to pick us up, this time it was the owner of Raven’s hostel, Lucky. Two other hikers hopped in with us and we made our way back to segment 22! We got a little car sick on those winding roads which made the fresh air that much more refreshing.
One last huge shoutout to Lake City and all of the volunteers who take hikers to and from the trailhead. Remember that noon is the pickup time from town and 12:30 is the pickup time from the mountain!
High Point: Segment 22
I was feeling much better after our stop in Lake City and we felt great heading into our last eight days of the trail. As we made it back to the trailhead the rain began coming down once again. It’s as if we couldn’t escape it. We planned on making it about eight miles up the way to a supposed yurt where we could get out of the rain.
The hiking was fairly easy and we could hear sheep nestled out in the bushes as we hiked by. The clouds mixed with the rain made for somewhat of a mystical feel to the mountain. Thankfully the rain wasn’t coming down too bad on us.
Once we got to the base of the yurt we scanned the area and also saw tents spread throughout the woods on the opposite side of the field. We figured the yurt was full and given the yurt was a bit of a climb to get up anyway we saved our legs and joined the other hikers and set up our tent. We got there just in the knick of time as the rain began to pick up.
We made one of our favorite dehydrated meals, Backpackers Pantry Phad Thai, and layed there waiting for the sun to go down. We talked with another hiker near us, heading North, who said he lived pretty much strictly on dried mangoes.
The following morning we got up, shook off all the rain residue from our tent, and began to make our climb. The day had finally come to get above 13,000 feet and reach the highest point on the Colorado Trail!
It was wet and misty the whole morning but we were fortunate enough to catch some of the amazing views from up on the ridge. A lot of other hikers we talked to were not as fortunate and instead got pouring down rain and lighting up on top as their experience.
We made it to the highpoint mid morning and after taking a few pictures began to make our way to the next segment. We stopped at an abandoned mining building to dry out our tent gear a bit and then made it into yet another segment.
Narnia: Segment 23
We stopped a few miles after Carson Saddle (segment 23, mile 375.1) to eat some lunch and take a few minutes to rest. The clouds were beginning to get more gloomy and we knew we would be in another storm shortly.
The area we were at was pretty exposed but there also wasn’t a ton of tree cover in general coming up for the next while. For the most ideal spot we wanted to get to a couple of nearby lakes which were below the tallest point of the ridge. We just had another five miles to go.
After quickly finishing our lunch we were back on the trail and booking it as quick as we could to hopefully get our tent set up before the rain. The mountain flowers on this section were extra beautiful.
The rain had just started to sprinkle as we came down the hill to the lakes. There were already several other hikers in the area so we chose as flat of a spot as we could, topped off our Katadyn with water, and then hung out in the tent. The rain really started to come down and we were very thankful to have made it to our spot in time.
A few hours later our friend Sweet Potato was finishing up her day of hiking and setup right next to us! We were surprised to see her since she had taken a zero day in Lake City two days prior but she’s a pretty quick hiker and caught up to us! She was soaked from walking in the rain all day and after setting up her tent we all said goodnight.
In the morning we awoke to the noise of what sounded like an animal eating. We were hoping it wasn’t a marmot eating through our gear! I got out of the tent and what a surprise it was! Not only was it one of the most beautiful sunrises of the entire hike, there in the bushes below us were two huge moose!
We made sure Nemo was tied up to our gear so she wouldn’t chase after them and we got our bags packed and ready for the day. As we started hiking we saw another three baby moose in the bushes below and we smiled as we soaked in that beautiful sunrise!
Now earlier we said that segment twenty-one was the roller coaster phase. We aren’t sure if we made that up or if we were misinformed, but forget segment twenty-one. Segment twenty-three is the REAL roller coaster.
The climbing was tough, but not as tough as we were preparing ourselves for. Honestly, with our now high energy levels, no rain, and the mind boggling views, segment twenty-three was up there for being one of our favorite segments of the trail. We labeled this section of the trail Narnia because it felt like we were in another world.
As we climbed up and down the Colorado mountains we couldn’t believe we were almost done with the trail. We had just gotten into the best of the best of the trail but it also felt like it was going to be over before we knew it.
Nemo ended up throwing a couple of Pikas in the air and was truly living her best life up there. I was pretty upset with her, given she continued not to listen, and we decided to get us all some food before anyone got hangry. Sometimes Nemo just needs a little food and a rest to clear her head.
We found the perfect spot for lunch at the head of the Rio Grande. It’s crazy that the Rio Grande River starts up in the mountains of Colorado, so cool! You bet your bottom dollar that we got ourselves some of that fresh Rio Grande river water!
I’m glad we stopped to get Nemo realigned because just a mile away were the most marmots we had ever seen. It was right around noon and the marmots were warming their fur up to the heat of the sun. Thank goodness Nemo didn’t try any funny business. She was pretty good about leaving mountain critters alone after this day.
A couple of miles later we were starting segment twenty-four. In the next blog we will cover the next few segments and our hitchhike into the famous Silverton, Colorado. The views will just keep getting better!
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