The mission of The Colorado Trail Foundation is to provide and to maintain, through voluntary and public involvement, and in cooperation with the USDA Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, a linear, non-motorized, sustainable, recreation trail between Denver and Durango, Colorado. This trail will provide multi-day, inspirational, and educational values keyed to the diverse, high mountain, natural environment.
The Colorado Trail (CT) was conceived in the 1960's and '70's by Colorado outdoorsmen including the Roundup Riders of the Rockies, a group of horse riders with a lengthy history in our state. The concept began to take shape in 1973 as a "Rocky Mountain Trail" between Denver and Durango when USFS Regional Forester, Bill Lucas and Colorado Magazine's, Merrill Hastings began organizing and communicating. Soon after, the CT's leading lady, Gudy Gaskill, joined in. She began organizing volunteer trail building efforts. Others assisted and they succeeded with many tasks including trail signing and mapping. A cooperative agreement was signed between the U.S. Forest Service and the Colorado Mountain Trails Foundation.
In 1986 The Colorado Trail was connected end to end and in 1987 The Colorado Trail Foundation (CTF) was formally established as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to manage and organize trail maintenance efforts. Later that year, "Golden Spike" ceremonies were held to celebrate both events. Volunteers had succeeded in establishing the nearly 567-mile Colorado Trail from Denver to Durango. This hike, bike and horse trail would quickly become one of Colorado's greatest assets.
Through the years, the CTF established volunteer programs including Trail Crews and Adopt-A-Trail for the continued maintenance of the CT. CTF Trail Crews are weekend to week-long summer trail work efforts with teams of around twenty volunteers accomplishing trail improvements. Adopt-A-Trail is the program of volunteer Adopters and Helpers that do annual maintenance on a designated segment for which they're responsible. A trekking program was also added to share the trail with others. Supported Treks give participants the opportunity to experience the trail with guides and their services.
In its very beginnings, the CTF was an all-volunteer effort and a tremendous success story of Rocky Mountain 'true grit.' As the effort and organization matured, the CTF needed additional continuity of paid staff. Trekking staff was secured and two paid office positions were established by 2000 to provide organizational continuity and sustainability. The office staff of two remains highly supported by the 600 volunteers who assist annually with trail maintenance, operations, financial planning, marketing, outreach, mailings, database management, events and so on.
Funding for these and other CTF efforts comes almost entirely from private contributions. Become a Friend of the CTF and donate now. Your contribution will help fund this successful volunteer effort and one of Colorado's greatest gems… The Colorado Trail.
"I wanted to write to let you know you guys are great! I did the CT in two trips, finishing this year. I had learned of the big Section 12 blowdowns just before I left, and was not looking forward to the road walk. But by the time I got there, the trail had already been cleared enough to get through. I was amazed at the amount of work your group must do to maintain these trails.
"I'm sending you (The CTF) a check today. I spent last weekend mountain biking with my husband and our 2 sons and their partners (1 wife, 1 fiance) on the CT at Buffalo Creek. I hadn't been there since my son and I backpacked half the trail a few years ago. I LOVE the CT. We had a wonderful time, the trail is just as I remembered (awesome), and I can't tell you how much I appreciate what you all do for Colorado. My kids are 4th generation Coloradans and we are so blessed to be here. Thank you, thank you, thank you!" ~Melissa McLean Jory
"I just read your newsletter and was very pleased to read you will work with others to try to maintain the CDT. I finished the CT a few years ago and have been on the Colorado CDT since. The CDT makes one appreciate how well run the CT has been, how well maintained the CT is. I just contributed $100.00 to the CT and will reconnect with the CT. Thanks for all that you do. " ~Barbara Walker (and Phil Feigin)
"I recently hiked the CT Segment 3 with ten members of my family and I wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed our hike and the trail. My brother, sister, niece and 7 of their grandchildren, ranging in age from 7 yrs. to 16 yrs., spent 2 nights on the trail. Four of us are experienced hikers, but the rest were new to backpacking. The hope is that they enjoyed the experience enough to want to continue to backpack and learn about their natural world.
"Segment 3 is a great section for beginners and was very well marked and maintained. Thank you to all the volunteers and staff who helped make our hike an experience none of us will forget." ~Pat Marquis
"Just wanted to pass along all the great energy from the trail crew at Winfield this past week - WOW - what a terrific crew leader we had. From fabulous meal menus to great leadership in new trail building; amazing. The CTF is so fortunate to have great volunteer crew leaders on board. My summer is complete now that I have some new CT friends and great memories to add to my CTF collection! Thanks for all you do "in the office" to make it all happen." ~Suzanne Reed
"Incredible experience both physically and spiritually. Saw God's amazing creation close up, incredible mountain scenery, and lots of animals (moose, bear, elk, deer, big horns, wild turkeys...). Met great people and made new friends on the trail. Truly an experience that I will never forget. Thanks to all the volunteers who keep the trail in great shape!" ~Kris Dawley
"Every point on the CT is a unique experience! Highlights for me were the people and animals we met on the trail, the grandeur of God's creation, and the affirmation that "I could do it." In addition to having completed the CT, we look forward to continuing our support of The Colorado Trail Foundation through volunteering and outreach. With grateful appreciation to the founders/creators and maintainers of this amazing trail." ~Sandi Westgard
"The CT was my first long distance thru-hike. I traveled solo, but met several friendly thru-hikers as well as day hikers/bikers/riders along the way. The Trail was amazing through and through. I feel as calm, happy and healthy as I have in years. The Trail stays with you. Thanks so much for making this experience possible!" ~Brad Magnarella
"I am born, raised, and educated in Colorado. Completing the CT somehow feels like the full development of me being a Colorado citizen--I got to connect for long periods of time with the amazing and world-class natural beauty of the place where I'm from and that's very special to me." ~Scott Merlin
"Thank you for working on this wonderful trail. We especially loved the craftsmanship of the new bridges built by Fooses Creek. We'll make a pilgrimage to Golden soon to thank your foundation in person. It was a great summer." ~Laurie Thomas