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Hiking & Walking: Colorado > Pike and San Isabel National Forests > South Platte Ranger District

Quick Facts

Colorado Trail (Waterton Canyon to South Platte)

Beginning Elevation: 5,600 Feet (1745.6 Meters) Waterton Recreation Area
Difficulty: Difficult
Elevation Gain: 800 Feet (249.4 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 6,400 Feet (1995.0 Meters) South Platte townsite
Handicapped Accessible: No
Length, One-way: 10 Miles (16.67 Kilometers)
Other Maps: Trails Illustrated 135, Pike National Forest
Recommended Season: Summer to Fall
Trail Number: 1776
USGS Maps: Kassler, Platte Canyon

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

This segment of the Colorado Trail is the gateway to the state. It leads users 16 miles through Waterton Canyon to the South Platte townsite. From the Waterton Canyon Trailhead visitors will find a variety of recreation opportunities. Many mountain bikers use the first 6 miles of this section so backpackers beware. No dogs or camping for the first 6 miles due to Denver Water Board regulations.

From Waterton Canyon the trail climbs high above the South Platte River offering spectacular views of the surrounding terrain. A variety of ecosystems are encountered from thick oakbrush patches to stands of ponderosa pine, Douglas fir and spruce. Aspen adds color to the fall color scheme. The trail follows the South Platte River to the Strontia Springs Reservoir where it intersects with the Carpenter Peak Trail. The Colorado Trail continues south and begins to climb. The trail switchbacks then crosses Bear Creek. Shortly after crossing Bear Creek the trail becomes wider and forks. Stay to the right. For the next .5 miles the trail shares its path with motorcycle trail #692. This trail will intersect with smaller trail that climbs to the right. Stay to the right and follow the smaller trail. In another mile the motorcycle trail crosses the Colorado Trail for the final time. The trail climbs for the next 2 miles until it reaches its high point at 7,280'. From here the trail descends to South Platte.

Directions from Denver: Norther Access: Take Interstate 25 south to State Road 470; and then drive west 12.5 miles to State Road 126. Travel south on 126 4.5 miles to a side road with signs leading to Waterton Canyon Recreation Area.

Directions from Colorado Springs: Northern Access: Drive north on Interstate 25 to the Sedalia exit (Highway 85). Pass Sedalia and continue 6 miles to Titan Road. Turn west (left) and travel almost 6 miles to Waterton Road and signs for the recreation area.

Directions from Denver: Southern Access: Drive south on Highway 285 past Conifer turn left on Foxton Road (County Road 97). Approximately 1.5 miles past Reynolds Park turn left on County Road 97 toward Dome Rock and South Platte.

Directions from Colorado Springs: Southern Access: Drive west on Highway 24 to Woodland Park. Turn right on Highway 67 toward Deckers. Continue driving north on Highway 67 past deckers until the road makes a sharp right at Oxyoke. At this point drive straight following Highwat 97 to the town site of South Platte.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Open: January through December (NOTE: The first section of the trail is open for all seasons.) .

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

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Filed By: no_tracks (Morrison, CO)
Time of Day: 11 a.m.
Difficulty: Moderate
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: I rode this trail from highway 97 towards Waterton Canyon. From the trailhead it goes straight up until it reaches the ridge at 7300 f. (from the top of the ridge you can see all the way to Pikes Peak and Mt. Evans), then it levels for a little bit and goes up again. I turned back when the trail started going down towards Waterton Canyon. The downhill was a BLAST!!! There are many switchbacks, so ride carefully!!! Next time I'll ride all the way to Waterton Canyon and back. This will give me much more vertical.
Conditions: The trail was in a very good shape. rocks here and there and occasional sand. There is nothing really technical on this ride. The beginning of the trail is exposed to sun but after about mile and a half, two miles it enters the forest.
Water Availability: I rode the trail on a cold late october day, and i drank about a littre of water. During the summer definitelly take more.
Recommended Clothing: Dress acoordingly to the weather.

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Backpacking Colorado Trail
ICON Hiking & Walking Colorado Trail (Waterton Canyon to South Platte)
ICON Horseback Riding Colorado Trail
ICON Animal Identification Colorado Trail
ICON Bird Identification Colorado Trail
ICON Mushroom Identification Colorado Trail
ICON Wildflower Identification Colorado Trail
ICON Mountain Biking Colorado Trail - non-wilderness areas only
ICON Viewing Scenery Colorado Trail

Related Activities
Colorado Trail (South Platte to Buffalo Creek) - The second section of the Colorado Trail leads 9.5 miles west from the old South Platte town site to the Buffalo Creek Mountain Bike area.

More Information

Visitor Information:

South Platte Ranger District, U.S. Forest Service, 19316 Goddard Ranch Ct. , Morrison, CO, 80465, Phone: 303-275-5610


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