From the Airport to the Alpine: The Colorado Trail (Segments 1 – 5)

The title says it all, from “The Airport to the Alpine”, this series is all about getting to and from Colorado trailheads and towns via Denver International Airport without the need of renting a vehicle by using public transportation and other creative methods. With gas prices going up and trailheads overcrowded, these transportation choices look to ease your wallet and lesson your frustration of traveling to new areas. In this installment, we will focus on the infamous, 500 mile, Denver to Durango, Colorado Trail. This post will focus on segments 1 through 5. Always check with these services before heading out, schedules and prices can fluctuate and services may not always be available.

Segment 1: Traveling to/from DIA and Waterton Canyon

After your arrival at Denver International Airport find your way to the Main Terminal and Baggage Claim. To get to Segment 1 of the CT, your options are quite simple, get a ride from a CT Shuttler, Uber or Regional Transportation District (public transportation). The options below are for the traditional start of the Colorado Trail at Waterton Canyon. If you need to start at one of the alternates, Indian Creek or Roxborough State Park, these options still work, though being further away, finding a ride can be more difficult. Also noteworthy are the apps used by the transportation companies listed below, they can be very useful in planning, finding the times for the next ride and any updates about routes. We highly recommend downloading the apps before heading out on the trail and becoming familiar with them.

CT Shuttler: The list can be obtained by emailing the Colorado Trail Foundation. These are volunteers who give of their time freely to help out hikers and can be very helpful throughout the entire Colorado trail, Denver to Durango. Please give them plenty of notice if possible as they have busy lives, are hikers or are shuttling several people at any given time.

Price: Volunteer, donation recommended; Bikes & Pet: Check with CT Shuttler

Uber: The second option involves seeking out a private car for hire, i.e. Uber, a taxi or Lyft, this option can be costly, though if arranged ahead of time, can be quicker than public transportation.

Price: Check with service; Bikes & Pets: Check with service

Public Transportation: If you plan your time wisely, this option can be cost effective and simple. The Regional Transportation District “RTD” in Denver has several options to/from DIA, the most popular is to take the A-Line train to downtown Denver, transfer to the lightrail route D-Line to the Littleton/Mineral Station. From there you will need to find a CT Shuttler or Uber as there is no public transportation directly to the trailhead. The other RTD option is to take the SkyRide bus, route AT, to the Arapaho Village Center Station and get a CT Shuttler or Uber from there to the trailhead. Both of the RTD options above have a nearby REI store for any last minute backpacking needs and are within walking distance.

Price: $10.50; Bikes: Yes; Pets: No

Segment 2: Traveling to/from DIA and S. Platte River TH

At the end of Seg 1 and the beginning of Seg 2, the trailhead is quite active with day hikers and people fishing in the Platte River. The nearest towns to access the area are Conifer and Aspen Park along HWY 285. A hitch, Uber or CT Shuttler to/from the trailhead is the only option, a CT Shuttler being the best choice. To get to/from Conifer and Aspen Park use RTD route CV to/from Denver Civic Center, Free Mall Ride to/from Union Station and RTD A-Line train to/from DIA.

RTD Price: $10.50; Bikes: Yes; Pets: No

Uber: Price, Bikes & Pets Check with service

CT Shuttler: Price: Volunteer, donation recommended / Bikes & Pets: Check with CT Shuttler

Segment 3: Traveling to/from DIA and Little Scraggy TH

At he end of Seg 2 and the beginning of Seg 3, the trailhead is quite active with day hikers and mountain bikers. The nearest towns to access the area are Conifer and Pine Junction along HWY 285. A hitch, Uber or CT Shuttler to/from the trailhead is the only option, a CT Shuttler being the best choice. To get to/from Conifer use RTD route CV to/from Denver Civic Center, Free Mall Ride to/from Union Station and RTD A-Line train to/from DIA. For Pine Junction use the Bustang Outrider Crested Butte Bus Service to/from Denver Union Station and the A-Line train to/from DIA.

RTD Price: $10.50; Bikes: Yes; Pets: No

Bustang Price: $6.00; Bikes: Yes; Pets: No

Uber: Price, Bikes & Pets Check with service

CT Shuttler: Price: Volunteer, donation recommended Bikes & Pets: Check with CT Shuttler

Segment 4: Traveling to/from DIA and Rolling Creek TH

At the end of Seg 3 and the beginning of Seg 4, the trailhead is frequented by day hikers and mountain bikers. This trailhead is located just outside of Bailey on a dirt road. The nearest town to access the area is Pine Junction along HWY 285. A hitch, Uber or CT Shuttler to/from the trailhead is the only option, a CT Shuttler being the best choice. For Pine Junction use the Bustang Outrider Crested Butte Bus Service to/from Denver Union Station and the A-Line trail to/from DIA.

Bustang Price: $6.00; Bikes: Yes; Pets: No

RTD Price: $10.50; Bikes: Yes; Pets: No

Uber: Price, Bikes & Pets Check with service

CT Shuttler: Price: Volunteer, donation recommended Bikes & Pets: Check with CT Shuttler

Segment 5: Traveling to/from DIA and Long Gulch TH

At the end of Seg 4 and the beginning of Seg 5 you will find you are somewhat removed from the beaten path. Access here is via rough dirt roads and the nearest town to access the area is Fairplay at the major intersection of HWY 285 and HWY 9. A hitch, Uber or CT Shuttler to/from the trailhead is the only option, a CT Shuttler being the best choice. To get to/from DIA and Fairplay there are several options. Bustang Outrider Crested Butte Bus Service to/from Denver Union Station ($14.00) and the A-Line train to/from DIA ($10.50). Fairplay to Breckenridge via Park County Commuter ($2.00), Breckenridge to Frisco Free Summit Stage Bus, Frisco to Denver Union Station via Bustang West Line ($12.00) or Pegasus Service ($13.00 “Limited Days”) and Denver Union Station to DIA via A-Line train to/from DIA ($10.50).

The above information on traveling to and from the Colorado Trail is not meant to be a comprehensive list, to date these are routes that we have found to be useful and inexpensive. We constantly are looking for other alternatives and will update this list as needed. Please feel free to reach out to us if you know of anything not on this list or to share your experiences with us traveling to and from the CT.

Peace,

MAD

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