Adopt This Trail

This trail is completely mapped but isn’t quite finished. Help out by adopting it and providing what's missing.

Summary Description

CT - Segment 1

 2 votes

16.3 Miles 26.2 Kilometers


2,512' 766 m


-1,902' -580 m


7,506' 2,288 m


5,506' 1,678 m



Avg Grade (3°)


Max Grade (19°)

Minor Issues

38 days agoUpdate
This Trail content is still in development or in editorial review.

A great trail beginning with South Platte views, and finishing in a more alpine region.

Adopt These Trails!


Need to Know

The lower portion of the canyon offers a great respite in the winter as Denver Water always plows this road up to the signs for the Colorado Trail. The road can get hot and dusty in the summer as it is very exposed at midday, but the second portion of trail makes its way through more heavily forested terrain. Either way, you'll be heading into remote territory, so prepare accordingly.

There is a bathroom at the parking lot at the trailhead, and one at the top of the trail near the dam. There is also a bathroom at a picnic area along the river.

Section Of


For the firs portion of this section of the Colorado trail, you'll follow Waterton Canyon, which is the gateway to the CT. While other portions of the trail end up being remote, this section offers easy access and beautiful views of the South Platte. The route starts at the parking lot off of Waterton Road where you'll find plenty of parking even on a busy weekend and restrooms. Cross Waterton Road at the pedestrian crossing to access Waterton Canyon.

The first mile of the road is through open space with grasslands and cottonwoods along the Platte River. After this, you'll enter the canyon where the road winds alongside the river. Wildlife abounds here and you may see elk, big horn sheep, or other critters scattered through the mountains. You'll have great views of the Platte River as the road meanders along its banks for about six miles.

Around the three mile mark, there is a small pull-out with restrooms and a picnic spot. You'll see numerous mountain bikers along the way, and you may encounter a few Denver Water vehicles, but this is rare as the road is closed to motor vehicles.

Around 4.5 miles, the slope gets a bit steeper as you make your up to a small manmade dam and reservoir. The road narrows here and the rock outcroppings are a bit more pronounced than along the earlier miles of the road. Past this point, the road gets a little bit steeper (compared to the barely noticeable incline you were on previously) as you wind your way up past the Strontia Springs Dam.

You'll continue on past a sign marking the continuation of the Colorado Trail. Take in the scenery as you continue on the more narrow trail. Soon, you'll be climbing through singletrack trails, and will make use of various switchbacks. Be prepared for changing weather conditions, as you'll end your journey nearly 2,000 ft. higher than the starting point. The temperatures might drop quickly, and weather changes quickly.

Flora & Fauna

Deer, elk, big horned sheep, rabbits, coyotes, foxes, and a variety of birds and snakes (including rattlesnakes) all make this area home. You will also see signs posted for bears and mountain lions although you hopefully won't encounter them on your outing.

Rate Trail


4.5 from 2 votes

Get On-Trail Navigation

Send to Phone
Your Check-Ins


Apr 14, 2017
Ashley Cruz

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 2 votes


  4.5 from 2 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star


in Colorado


59 Views Last Month
322 Since Nov 6, 2015
Intermediate Intermediate



Minor Issues 38 days ago
Trail dry. Bear Creek has insufficient logs or rocks for crossing; may get your feet wet.
Update ConditionsHistory

Getting forecast...


Hiking Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Hiking