Bikepacking the Colorado Trail has become an exciting sport in the last few years. Bikepacking is all about combining the exciting sports of hiking and biking, so that you can have a multi-day adventure and explore a wider range of landscapes. If you are planning on tackling this endeavor, here are some tips for bikepacking the Colorado Trail.
1. Get Acclimated
The Colorado trail stretches from Durango to Denver, gaining 70,000 vertical feet and reaching up to 13,000 feet in elevation. Make sure that you give yourself a chance to get acclimated to the high altitude in the mountains of Colorado before you begin. If you aren’t used to it, the altitude can cause headaches, dizziness and altitude sickness. You’ll spend a lot of time on the trail along the timberline, which is around 12,000 feet in Colorado.
2. Pack Light
The Colorado Trail is a favorite among bikepackers, as it offers 485 miles of gorgeous scenery with plenty of exciting challenges along the way. The importance of packing light cannot be emphasized too much. You’ll feel every extra unnecessary pound when you have been on the trail for a while.
3. Stock Up On Food
There are no possibilities for food drops on the Colorado Trail, so you will need to stock up on food while you are at grocery stores at towns along the way. Utilize healthy food choices at organic stores like Nature's Oasis in Durango. Pack lots of portable, non-perishable food that is high in calories, protein and energy such as granola bars, peanuts, raisins and chocolate bars. Cheese is great because it’s small and calorically dense.
4. Go Hut-To-Hut
The San Juan Hut Systems are extremely useful for mountain bikers, hiers, and backcountry skiiers alike. Offering "hut-to-hut" tours for over 30 years, the huts' mission is to provide low impact, human powered, lightweight accomodations for independent adventurers at a reasonable price. This is a great resource for bikepackers, especially if this is your first big trip. Check out the Durango to Moab hut-to-hut expedition.
5. Gear Up
The recent innovations in lightweight bicycles and equipment have made this sport even more popular – it’s now easier than ever to carry your bike and everything you need on your journey. Take the opportunity to restock on gear when you travel through a town. Durango has several stores and bike shops with outdoor gear that will offer everything you need on your travels.
6. Keep In Touch
Social media can be a very valuable resource for the bikepacker. Find Facebook groups or online forums related to the activity where you can ask questions to others who have done it before. And be sure to share your journey with us at @durangocom. We'd love to join you on your trip.
7. Stay On Course
Bikepacking allows you to cover more ground than you could on a hike, so that you can see more of the beautiful countryside. Be aware that bikes are not allowed in the National Wilderness Areas of the Colorado Trail, so the biking route you will need to take will have five paved and dirt road detours and these will increase the total mileage to over 535 miles.
8. Account For Lost Time
When you are making your plans, always give yourself a couple of extra days of wiggle room. Things can go wrong and the trail can take longer than you think. Weather can also be a huge obstacle. Plus, you'll get the most out of your trip if you're not worrying about deadlines or scheduling conflicts. Block out a chunk of time for this incredible experience and enjoy yourself.
9. Navigate Smart
It's a good idea to carry a GPS with you at all times, as well as plenty of spare batteries, but you should also make sure you bring an actual physical map. It's never a good idea to rely on technology alone when you're out in the wilderness. With a map you can make sure that you are staying on track and avoid backtracking.
10. Bring A Backup
Always make sure that you have a backup lighter flint, so that if you lose your first one you will still be able to make a fire even when you are miles away from the nearest store. It's certainly not a bad idea to bring matches either! Getting a fire starter that you can rely on in wet and windy conditions at any altitude is the key to ensuring you have a successful trip.
These are just some survival tips to help you when you're bikepacking the Colorado Trail from Durango to Denver.