The Barr Trail's 13-mile one-way climb to Pikes Peak is a gorgeous path that is one of the easiest 14,000-foot hikes in Colorado, but it is still exposed to potentially severe weather and has a significant amount of length and elevation gain. The trail starts near the summit of Mount Princeton and passes through subalpine forest, open rock fields, and pastures before reaching its destination on South Park Avenue about three miles from the peak.
Because of its proximity to Pikes Peak, the Barr Trail sees more use than most other trails in the area. This can lead to crowds on some days, especially during summer months. If you're looking for a less trafficked experience, try another hike up Pikes Peak or take a tour with a company like Eco Tours. There are also several shorter trails that start near the base of the mountain that are great for exploring in the off-season or when there aren't too many people around.
Safety is an important factor when hiking any trail, but particularly in areas where there is little or no access due to heavy snowfall or high winds. Make sure to check with local officials before heading out onto any trail because rules may change during harsh conditions.
Also be aware that some parts of the Barr Trail are known drug trafficking routes, so keep an eye out for anything suspicious.
Whitney should approach the trip with caution and cautious planning. The combination of high height, unpredictable weather, and untrained climbers drawn to the peak's accessibility makes climbing Mt. Whitney far more risky than the usual trip. Get information on safe practices for climbing in our guide.
In addition to general safety tips for hiking listed below, there are specific concerns for climbers who plan to summit Whitney. They include:
Heavy snowfall and ice conditions present unique risks not found on other hikes. Proper equipment is required to prevent injury from falling rocks and trees.
Weather can change rapidly at high altitudes. Unpredictable wind patterns and severe storms can cause delays or cancel trips before they start.
The mountain itself is dangerous due to its steepness and exposure. There are many loose rocks and slips that could cause serious injuries if you aren't careful where you step.
Finally, human behavior is one of the most dangerous factors on a mountain like Whitney. Some people choose to climb beyond their ability level which increases the risk of accidents such as falling down cliffs or being caught in high-level winds.
Despite these dangers, climbing Whitney is still very accessible and rewarding. If you're healthy and motivated, there's a good chance you'll have an amazing experience on the mountain.
The Colorado Trail in a Nutshell The trail's official length is 485 miles. Horses and mountain bikers (in non-wilderness regions) are permitted, as are walkers. The trails are well defined and simple to follow (by Western trail standards). There are campgrounds along the route.
The Colorado Trail goes through some of the most beautiful scenery in the United States. It passes through high plains that were once part of the Great Plains, and now support abundant wildlife including elk, deer, and birds. The trail also goes through dense forests full of large mature trees, wild turkeys, and many other species. Desert environments cover parts of the state as well. These areas were once part of the Great Basin, which extends from California to Washington when it was at its largest size.
Hiking the Colorado Trail is like traveling through time through America's heartland. You will experience cultures that have changed very little in hundreds of years - farmers living off the land, ranches where cows, horses, and sheep roam free, towns that date back to gold rush days with wooden buildings lining the streets. This is true wilderness travel at its best - experiencing small communities while staying in touch with your environment.
The Colorado Trail can be used by anyone looking for a unique experience.
Wolf Creek Pass is one of Colorado's most treacherous mountain routes. A switchback bend on the west side of Wolf Creek Pass, about 18 miles east of Pagosa Springs on US Highway 160, is one of the more perilous spots on the mountain pass, with a 200-foot dropoff on the opposite side. The road has been called the most dangerous road in Colorado.
The pass was named after William Wolf, who settled in the area in 1881. He built a toll bridge over the San Juan River that still stands today. In 1890, he formed the Wolf Creek Stage Line company with his two brothers to promote tourism in their area. The stage line ran between Pagosa Springs and Durango through the pass.
In 1963, four people were killed when the car they were in went off the road near the pass. In 1994, another person died when he was thrown from a horse that jumped out from under him while riding on Wolf Creek Pass Road.
Today, the town of Wolf Creek only has about 100 residents, but during its peak years in the 1880s, it had several hotels, restaurants, and shops. The population today is because so many people live in towns nearby. There are no gas stations at the pass itself, so drivers must either stop here or go all the way to Durango (about 150 miles away) before finding any fuel.
Beartooth Highway, which reaches a height of 10,947 feet, weaves and wends its way past twenty peaks that exceed 12,000 feet on hairpin turns marked by precipitous drop-offs and guardrails that provide the minimum appearance of protection. The road has claimed many lives over the years.
There are emergency shelters where people can go for safety during storms or other emergencies. The Beartooth Highway Emergency Shelter is located at 4300 Miles to Montana. It is operated by the Red Cross and offers food, water, first aid, and heat if needed. It's open year-round; days and hours vary depending on weather conditions and usage.
The Beartooth Highway is known for its dangerous conditions, but it is also known for its beauty. There are views of beauteous mountains, valleys, and lakes as you drive up into the high plains. If you're feeling adventurous, you can see how far you can drive before needing to stop for gas or food. However, keep in mind that there are no services until you reach Montana.
People travel from all over the world to see the Beartooth Mountains. They are most famous for their role in bringing about Ernest Hemingway's suicide, but there are other attractions along the way. For example, there is an old gold mining town called Marble found at the base of one of the mountain ranges.