July 20, 2017
It is our 20th day on trail and we are looking at the final stretch of our ride – the last eight segments of the Colorado Trail. The last segments stay high in elevation as we make our way down trail in the San Juan Mountains. It is known to be colder, rugged and rough. There are a few times the trail crosses the Continental Divide Trail. Then eventually, we will part ways from the Continental Divide Trail as we make our way to Durango, Colorado. There was still a lot of trail ahead of us… about 155 miles to go.
Today, we planned to ride all of Segment 20 and then some of Segment 21. We didn’t start the day with a set place in mind to camp, but we knew that we needed to get back down to the treeline before searching for a campsite.
Colorado Trail: Segment 20
Segment 20 of the Colorado Trail takes you up to San Luis Pass. This segment is 12.7 miles long. A few miles into the segment, we saw a sign that warned that horse travel between Stewart Creek and Cochetopa Creek was not recommended. I had previously read about any warnings of taking horses on this section, so we rode on.
After riding that section, we were not really sure why that sign was there. The trail was not easy (most of the Colorado Trail isn’t). But one difference with this section between the two creeks was that it was very muddy, mucky, and rocky. It wasn’t the most pleasant ride in all the mud and rocks, but eventually the trail continues in meadows. Then it is just switchbacks up.
Once we made it to the high saddle, I couldn’t resist pulling out my camera for some pictures. We rested a bit at the top and enjoyed the view of San Luis Peak to the North of us.
There are two more saddles along the Continental Divide before reaching San Luis Pass at the end of the segment. All that is at the end of this segment is a sign. There is no trailhead.
Colorado Trail: Segment 21
Now, Segment 21 of the Colorado Trail is 14.8 miles. We only planned to ride a few miles in search of a campsite once we reached the treeline.
Segment 21 starts off with a steep climb up to a saddle just under 13,000 ft. The trail crosses the Continental Divide, and the views are breathtaking. The trail then descends to East Mineral Creek, where we found the perfect campsite just as we got back into the treeline.
Our total mileage for today was 15.1 miles. We set up camp and the horses had a huge meadow to graze it. It was absolutely beautiful.