Saturday, June 15, 2013

Colorado Trail: Guidebooks, Maps, and Planning

Anyone planning a Colorado Trail thru-hike should start with Paul Mags The Colorado Trail End-to-End Guide, a free online resource.  This online guide is an incredibly helpful resource.  The guide answers the most commonly asked questions, identifies all of the available maps, guidebooks, and other resources you might want to take with you, and provides information about the towns closest to the trail for resupply. The Colorado Trail Foundation's website also contains useful information.  Current trail conditions may be found on the Colorado Trail Foundation's Facebook page. 

Other books and resources that might be helpful in planning are: (1) The Colorado Trail Guidebook; (2) The Colorado Trail Data Book; and (3) The Colorado Trail Map Book.  Some hikers may choose to hike with just the Data Book and/or maps from the Map Book.  I'm choosing to bring all three because I like the additional detail and enjoy reading about natural history along the trail.  As I did with our PCT guidebooks, I have carefully divided the Colorado Trail Guidebook and Map Book into sections and added the appropriate sections to each of my resupplies so that I will only carry what I need for the upcoming segment(s) of the trail. 

Free GPS waypoints are available from Bear Creek Survey, makers of the Colorado Trail Map Book.  Bear Creek has also makes maps and provides free GPS waypoints for the Continental Divide Trail!  Although we are not planning on using GPS frequently, I have downloaded all of the waypoints and associated maps onto my iPhone, just in case.

The Colorado Trail Map Book we chose is very detailed and convenient, but may not meet the needs of all hikers because it only shows a narrow corridor around the trail.  We are planning on staying fairly close to the trail, venturing off only occasionally to climb a few of Colorado's 14ers.  Anyone considering significant alternate routes (other than the newly added "Collegiate West Loop" which is now included in the map book), should probably choose a different map option.

After reviewing the potential resupply locations listed in the End-to-End Guide, we've decided to resupply at the following locations: (1) Breckenridge; (2) Leadville; (3) Princeton Hot Springs; (4) Salida; (5) Creede; and (6) Silverton.  We tried to choose locations that are reasonably close to the trail and convenient to access.  Our resupply boxes are already packed and ready to go, although we plan to buy some fresh food locally to supplement our resupplies.

Colorado, here we come!

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