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blue CT - Segment 1

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16.3 mile 26.2 kilometer point to point


Ascent: 2,512' 766 m
Descent: -1,902' -580 m
High: 7,506' 2,288 m
Low: 5,506' 1,678 m


Avg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 35% (19°)


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Trail shared by David B with improvements by K Keiter

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

David B

Features Birding · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Section Of


For the first 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 way up to a small man-made 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'll also see signs posted for bears and mountain lions although you hopefully won't encounter them on your outing.

Mixed pine and aspen forest, along with scrub brush and wild clover are dotted along this trail.


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May 3, 2019
Colin McKinley
Beautiful! Hiked out and back from Waterton canyon, spent the night near S. Platte trailhead. Clear conditions, no ice, snow or mud on the trail. 34.6mi — 30h 00m
Oct 6, 2018
Karin Wuhrmann
Via alt start from Indian Creek trailhead 12.8mi
Aug 11, 2018
Vanessa Bayer
Biked the first, easy half
Aug 10, 2018
Geoffrey Cullins
Hot & dry. 18.3mi
Aug 1, 2018
Mtn Dew
Jul 1, 2018
K Keiter
Campsite at Bear Creek. Please use LNT. "Aggressive Bear" note left for hikers. Only water at Bear Creek - Need Scoop!
Jun 19, 2018
Rebecca B
Trail was dry and clear. Only a few downed trees in the western section. 16mi
Mar 25, 2018
Alex Ross

Trail Ratings

  4.2 from 11 votes


  4.2 from 11 votes
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in Colorado


215 Views Last Month
2,530 Since Nov 6, 2015
Intermediate Intermediate



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