Peak(s):  Colorado Trail Seg 1 - 3 - 8,279 feet
Date Posted:  05/14/2012
Modified:  07/06/2012
Date Climbed:   05/09/2012
Author:  dehrlich101
Additional Members:   jgallo11
 CT - Waterton Canyon to FS Rd 560 (Wellington Lake Rd)  

Colorado Trail - Waterton Canyon to FS 560 (Wellington Lake Rd)
Segments 1 - 3

Dates: May 9 - 11, 2012
Total elevation gain: 7,287
Total miles: 40.5
Company: Justin
Resources: CT Guidebook
Total miles on the CT: 135.9
Miles remaining: 349.9

Wednesday May 9, 2012
Start: 5:00 pm
End: 10:00 pm
Mileage: 11.0

We had hoped to climb Humboldt Peak on Friday, but with NOAA predicting snow/rain with some thunderstorms we decided to go with plan B of hiking segment 1 - 3 of the Colorado Trail. Segment 1 starts in Waterton Canyon right outside of Denver, it is a very popular place for running, biking, and hiking. After Justin got off work we drove separate vehicles to our final destination trailhead FS Rd 560 (Wellington Lake Rd) to drop off a vehicle for our return back to Denver. We drove back to Waterton Canyon and set off down the trail around 5:00 pm. If you haven't been in Waterton Canyon it is more of a dirt road then trail for the first 6.7 miles, and then turns into a single-track trail. We made good time down the canyon, and then started up the first steep incline to Lenny's Rest at mile 7.9.

We filtered some water for the night at Bear Creek at mile 8.7, which is the last water in this segment until the South Platte River. We kept on hiking into the night so we could get to the camping spots around mile 11, and arrived around 10pm. We ate some food and turned in for the night, wanting to get as much rest before our long day tomorrow.

Only 485.8 miles to go!

Waterton Canyon

Lenny's Rest

Thursday May 10, 2012
Start: 6:00 am
End: 5:00 pm

We woke up at 5:00 am, and broke down camp. We made really good time to the South Platte TH where the Gudy Gaskill bridge is located. Make sure that you filter water for segment 2 at the South Platte, because this is the last water that is available until mile 2.1 in segment 3. If you run out of water in segment 2, there is emergency water available at mile 10 at the fire station. This should only be used if you have no other choice. Segment 2 has almost no shade due to the Buffalo Creek fire that happened in 1996. The landscape is still pretty cool, but this segment should be done in the early morning to avoid the heat.

Gudy's Bridge


Buffalo Creek Fire


I was hiking down the trail when I noticed a huge rattlesnake on the side of the trail. It started coming towards me, and rattling its tail. I ran up the trail avoiding it, and it stayed curled up next to the trail. I sat there watching it until Justin caught up so that I could tell him to go around it. Living in the foothills I have seen a lot of rattlesnakes on Green Mountain and the surrounding areas but never this big. We didn't even think about having a snake bite kit with us, but it would be something worth bringing. There isn't any cell phone service, so help would take awhile to get to you in this segment.

Angry rattler on the side of the trail

Justin had three liters of water with him during this segment and was running out around mile 10. We decided not to stop at the fire station, and keep on going to where there was an intermittent stream at 1.3 miles into segment 3. The stream at mile 1.3 was not running, and the stream at mile 2.1 did not have much water running in it. At mile 2.8 into segment 3 we finally found a good stream with plenty of water. There is a good place to camp just up the old jeep road with an overhang cave. After filtering some water from the stream we kept on hiking three more miles to Tramway Creek were we set up camp for the night. We were beat after hiking 22.4 miles that day; the relentless heat in segment 2 really takes it out of you. We relaxed around camp, ate some dinner and turned in for the night.

These guys were everywhere


Red Dawn cave


If only the trees had eyes

Old box spring


Friday May 11, 2012
Start: 5:40 am
End: 8:40 am
Mileage: 7.1

The next morning we woke up at 5:00 am, and started on the last 7.1 miles of the trip. The trail is really nice in this segment compared to 2, there is plenty of water and trees to shade you the whole way. There are several other trails that intersect the CT during this section, but are all signed well so getting off route won't be a problem. The whole morning was gloomy with rain clouds, and it started to mist towards the end. I was glad to get back to the vehicle at the end. After running a marathon the Sunday before our trip my legs were toast. We drove back into Denver and stopped at Tommy's Subs for a much deserved sandwich.


A little motivation to hike faster

The end is in sight

Tommys Italian with extra peppers

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

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