A very well-maintained and surprisingly lonely section of the CDT that follows the ridgeline for several miles with views into numerous remote bowls. Besides the popular access at the Herman Gulch Trail #98
and near Berthoud Pass, there are few hikers on this section when considering the proximity to Denver. The Gore Range, Indian Peaks, and the Front Range 14ers all make a majestic backdrop for this route. A point to point hike requires a little bit of logistical work for two vehicles, but is well worth it.
From the trailhead at the start of the Herman Gulch Trail #98
, you climb for about 2.5 miles through pines and increasingly open alpine meadows. The short dogleg to Herman Lake adds less than a half mile to the route.
After this trail intersection, it is a short climb to the ridgeline. From here, you have several miles of well-maintained singletrack that mostly follows the ridge, occasionally hugging the side of some of the prominences. For 8 miles, you stay above 12,000 ft, and despite the remoteness, the trail has seen recent maintenance, which makes looking up at the views very tempting. The trail then passes Jones Pass, which gives an option to cut the route short, down the jeep road towards Berthoud Falls.
After the section on the ridgeline, the trail drops to the south of Vasquez Peak, losing elevation. There is another intersection, which gives access to parking at the Henderson Mine trailhead for Jones Pass. Stay high and you'll stay on the trail. At 16 miles, the trail starts climbing steeply up Stanley Mountain, and after gaining the ridge, there are a final 3 miles above 12,000 ft as you arrive at Berthoud Pass.