Forum Index » General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion » colorado trail july vs september


Display Avatars Sort By:
ross erickson
(themaestro) - F

Locale: colorado
colorado trail july vs september on 04/02/2010 16:13:01 MDT Print View

I will be moving to Colorado from Illinois soon and I'm going to thru hike the Colorado Trail. I'm debating on when i should do it. i hiked a bit of the trail this last July and thought the weather was great, but id like to spend that time this year adjusting and hiking colorado wonders with my fiance. my first thought was august right after lollapalooza, but hear its pretty rainy that month. I'm now thinking september but have never been to colorado that time of year and don't know what to expect. i need some advice!!!
peace
.maestro.

Edited by themaestro on 04/02/2010 16:14:27 MDT.

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: colorado trail july vs september on 04/02/2010 17:34:28 MDT Print View

How long do you plan on hiking? I'd recommend July for sure. You'll possibly hit some snow patches that haven't melted depending on when you start in July and how fast you are hiking. August would be fine too, earlier the better.

By mid to late August you will likely get snowed on by new snow and September could get a big storm though you never quite know.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
colorado trail july vs september on 04/02/2010 18:10:22 MDT Print View

More mosquitoes in July.

No bugs and less people in September, but far more likelihood of significant snow.

At least in northern Colorado, less chance of rain in early August, and less bugs than in July. More people, though!

Edited by hikinggranny on 04/02/2010 18:11:54 MDT.

ross erickson
(themaestro) - F

Locale: colorado
august maybe on 04/02/2010 20:25:23 MDT Print View

thanks for the input guys. the trail should take me 3 weeks max. im aiming for 2 and a half though. july had a lot of mosquitoes but most of the time manageable. august is sounding promising, but i need to know what the storms are like cause i dont wanna be hunkered down below treeline for long periods of time.

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: august maybe on 04/03/2010 08:30:24 MDT Print View

Storms are usually fast and scary. The can come any time in the summer. Last summer they pounded me all through June/early July. Two years ago they danced around me and hardly touched me in August.

I wouldn't purposefully go above treeline when an impending storm is coming but usually they blow through fast and you can continue afterwords.

If we're in a monsoonal cycles, you'll know it. Every afternoon it will storm and then move on.

James Naphas
(naphas13) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
Storms on 04/03/2010 13:40:43 MDT Print View

Colorado summer storms tend to be incredibly heavy, but over quickly. Ditto the comment on getting down below tree level, because the lightning can be awe-inspiring. You can feel and even smell them coming, however, so it's a not real surprise when the heavens cut loose.

ross erickson
(themaestro) - F

Locale: colorado
august! on 04/03/2010 16:26:31 MDT Print View

so it sounds like i never should have second guessed august! if anyone has any more info about the colorado trail in august that would be great.

peace
.maestro.

Derek Schutt
(derek_fc) - F

Locale: Northern Colorado Front Range
best part of CO trail on 04/05/2010 12:43:08 MDT Print View

Howdy All, I'm a new guy here...

I'm curious if anyone has a favorite part of the CO trail. I was thinking about a 5-6 day trip.

Or would it be so busy that you'd recommend somewhere else if you were going to backpack in CO.

Thanks.

Aaron Armstrong
(traderaaron) - F

Locale: Colorado
re: ideas for best section on 04/05/2010 15:23:11 MDT Print View

I am looking to do the section through the La Garita Mountains. Lots of high alpine meadows and open terrain, Elk, Moose, Bighorn Sheep, interesting volcanic geology, relatively unvisited high 13ers and 14er San Luis Peak, fishing in beaver ponds. Overall it's far from civilization and offers relative solitude. I think this section would be best early in the year when the Elk have their new calves up in the very high meadows to feed on the young alpine grasses or in September when the Aspens are starting to turn and the Elk are starting to rut.

You can do routes from 27 miles (Eddiesville TH to Spring Hill Pass) all the way to connecting to Molas Pass in the San Juans 80 miles away to see the best of the La Garita's and the heart of the San Juans.

Edited by traderaaron on 04/05/2010 15:24:15 MDT.

Derek Schutt
(derek_fc) - F

Locale: Northern Colorado Front Range
La Garita Mountains on 04/05/2010 17:16:22 MDT Print View

Thanks. Sounds intriguing, and is from a part of CO I haven't seen yet (rather new to here).

Incidentally, the La Garita caldera is the remnant of the largest eruption measured--bigger even than Yellowstone's big ones...

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: best part of CO trail on 04/05/2010 18:59:40 MDT Print View

I have a lot of favorite parts, but the San Juans sections are the prettiest continuous section IMO.

As for busy, outside of the few popular and easily accessible trailheads (waterton, Kenosha, gold hill, elbert/massive, junction creek) I think you'll find the trail pretty deserted. At least I did.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: La Garita Mountains on 04/05/2010 19:07:35 MDT Print View

nm

Edited by greg23 on 04/05/2010 19:36:59 MDT.

Chris Gray
(ChrisFol) - F

Locale: Denver, Coloado
Re: best part of CO trail on 04/05/2010 19:58:49 MDT Print View

There is so much to love about the CT that it is hard to narrow it down just one part. Some of the most beautiful scenery IMO comes after San Luis Peak-- Spring Creek, Carson Saddle, Molas Pass etc and depending on the time of year you was thinking of for your trip, then this is where I would go.

If you are looking at earlier in the season, then the Collegiate Range could provide some interest in and around the Twin Lakes and then make your way towards US-50 or Marshall's Pass. Here you also have opportunities to climb a few 14ers (Mt. Elbert, Oxford, Yale, Harvard and Princeton) should you wish to side-track. Note, this area could see a little more traffic.

I also recommend the La Garita Wilderness area starting at Eddiesville TH. In fact my wife, father-in-law and myself come here at least once a year to hike and fly-fish; it is a beautiful part of the country.

Edited by ChrisFol on 04/06/2010 12:14:20 MDT.

Tim Heckel
(ThinAir) - M

Locale: 6237' - Manitou Springs
Crap shoot on 04/06/2010 13:28:06 MDT Print View

Back to the topic.
Ross, the truth is there are some general patterns but the weather here is highly variable. The variations are more extreme at higher altitudes. Winter comes early and leaves late above timberline, which is ~11000' or so in Colorado.
I would'nt hesitate to go anytime July-Sept.
But be aware you can get very cold temps, snow, rain, wind, etc at any time and you need to be prepared for it all.
A >typical< September is nice with warm days and cool-to-cold nights.
If you really want a specific recommendation I would advise last week or 2 of August into the first couple weeks of September.

ross erickson
(themaestro) - F

Locale: colorado
august on 04/06/2010 21:39:05 MDT Print View

thanks for bringing the topic back haha. august sounds like a great time for me. that will give me all of june and july to get use to the mountains and prepare. i am very excited to hike this trail. this will be my first thru hike and i need to take it very seriously. i will be hiking solo and there is no room for error. any advice about the trail and thru hiking the trail that would be awesome.
peace
.maestro.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: colorado trail july vs september on 04/06/2010 23:08:29 MDT Print View

An august hike brings a significantly increased danger of thunderstorms. Go ahead if you want to, but many CT thruhikers advice against it.

I hiked, and finished September 17th. We went slow (because my partner was slow). The lax schedule allowed us to sit in town for the few snow "storms" that we had. None dropped over a few inches. It was nice.

This year I plan on being southbound on the CDT throughout September. I'll be crossing my fingers that the snow holds out and that I'm sturdy enough to endure what happens. If I need to hike lower routes, I won't mind missing the southern san juans because I've already been on the CT.

A two part video of my Colorado Trail thruhike can be seen at: Outside365.com

ross erickson
(themaestro) - F

Locale: colorado
new plan on 04/07/2010 11:10:09 MDT Print View

hey jack! my fiance katelyn and i watched your great thru hike video last year in preparation for hiking part of the trail back in july. it looked like you and your partner had a great time on the trail, same for us. i wish katelyn would be joining me on this thru hike, but she will be starting her junior year at the university of colorado denver. whereas i am a songwriter and the time is available. i know she will miss me(especially if school will be stressful), therefore i will be hiking solo and fast. i was really liking early September after finding out that August is colorados "monsoon" season. what can i expect for the trail in the first half of September? i am also trying to decide if i wanna hike from durango to denver. i think i would hike a little differently if i have the mindset that im hiking towards my home where katelyn is waiting for me. or would i have a deeper impact by saving the san jauns for the end?

Edited by themaestro on 04/07/2010 11:13:54 MDT.

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
direction on 04/07/2010 11:24:42 MDT Print View

There is something special about going "home" but the Durango finish is much nicer IMO.

September could be beautiful or you could have quite a bit of rain and snow. Temperatures will be a little colder.

Chris Gray
(ChrisFol) - F

Locale: Denver, Coloado
RE: direction on 04/07/2010 14:34:12 MDT Print View

I agree with Chris, SOBO is a much nicer finish than the anti-climatic Waterton Canyon.

If you are considering hiking later in the season, then I would go north-bound-- this way you get over the west facing sides, the more difficult terrain and of course through the higher elevations almost immediately and will give you more of a cushion against those possible September storms.

ross erickson
(themaestro) - F

Locale: colorado
temperature wise on 04/07/2010 15:01:47 MDT Print View

how cold in early september. ill hike in late winter here in illinois in running shorts and be fine. i dont mind cold weather.