FROM THE AIRPORT TO THE ALPINE: THE COLORADO TRAIL (SEGMENTS 12 – 15)

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 the first few installments, we will focus on the infamous, 500 mile, Denver to Durango, Colorado Trail. This post will focus on segments 12 through 15. Always check with these services before heading out, schedules and prices can fluctuate and services may not always be available.

Take note, at Twin Lakes in Seg 11, one must decide to go either Collegiate East or Collegiate West. Though it is also possible to use the East and West segments to take on the 160 mile Collegiate Loop, using any TH to begin and end. In this installment of From the Airport to the Alpine, we will focus on the traditional East route. Stay tuned for future posts, after the Colorado Trail we will begin covering other great trails, trailheads, towns and amazing alpine experiences. Don’t forget to view the previous posts for the Colorado Trail, Segments 1 – 5 and Segments 6 – 11.

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.

Segment 12: Traveling to/from DIA and the Clear Creek Rd TH

After your arrival at Denver International Airport find your way to the Main Terminal and Baggage Claim. To get to Segment 12 of the CT, head to the train platform outside of the south end of the main terminal, look for the large hanging American flag above the doors. Once outside, go down the escalators and the train platform will be right in front of you.

Take the Regional Transportation District (public transportation) A-Line Train to downtown Denver at Union Station ($10.50). Once at Union Station head downstairs to the Bustang bus, use the Outrider Crested Butte Bus to Buena Vista ($24.00). From here you will need a ride to the trailhead (19 miles). A hitch is doable, Uber less likely while the CT Shuttler is probably your best bet. It would be a good idea to call a CT Shuttler beforehand and secure a ride to decide which stop would work best. The RTD and Bustang services accept bikes and gear, but no pets.

Segment 13: Traveling to/from DIA and the Silver Creek TH

Take the Regional Transportation District (public transportation) A-Line Train to downtown Denver at Union Station ($10.50). Once at Union Station head downstairs to the Bustang bus, use the Outrider Crested Butte Bus to Buena Vista ($24.00). From here you will need a ride to the trailhead (7 miles). A hitch is doable, Uber less likely while the CT Shuttler is probably your best bet. It would be a good idea to call a CT Shuttler beforehand and secure a ride to decide which stop would work best. The RTD and Bustang services accept bikes and gear, but no pets.

Segment 14: Traveling to/from DIA and the Chalk Creek TH

The Chalk Creek TH has a few options, one of which we highly recomend if you want to treat yourself before heading off on Segment 14.

Option 1: Take the Regional Transportation District (public transportation) A-Line Train to downtown Denver at Union Station ($10.50). Once at Union Station head downstairs to the Bustang bus, use the Outrider Crested Butte Bus to Buena Vista ($24.00). From here you will need a ride to the trailhead (15 miles). A hitch is doable, Uber less likely while the CT Shuttler is probably your best bet. It would be a good idea to call a CT Shuttler beforehand and secure a ride to decide which stop would work best. The RTD and Bustang services accept bikes and gear, but no pets.

Option 2: Take the Regional Transportation District (public transportation) A-Line Train to downtown Denver at Union Station ($10.50). Once at Union Station head downstairs to the Bustang bus, use the Outrider Crested Butte Bus to Salida ($29.00). From here you will need a ride to the trailhead (24 miles). A hitch is doable, Uber less likely while the CT Shuttler is probably your best bet. It would be a good idea to call a CT Shuttler beforehand and secure a ride to decide which stop would work best. The RTD and Bustang services accept bikes and gear, but no pets.

Option 3: Treat yourself to some great food, hot springs and a very relaxing stay at the Mt Princeton Hot Springs Resort. We stayed here on our thru hike of the CT and thoroughly enjoyed it. While a little pricey compared to your typical stay in town along the CT, it was worth the extra money to really let our hair down and relax. The staff is super friendly and they welcome hikers. Dogs are welcome, in select rooms an the resort can frequently have no vacancy in the summer months. It is best to call in advance to secure a room, especially if you want to use the Free Shuttle service from Buena Vista.

To get to the Mt Princeton Hot Springs Resort take the Regional Transportation District (public transportation) A-Line Train to downtown Denver at Union Station ($10.50). Once at Union Station head downstairs to the Bustang bus, use the Outrider Crested Butte Bus to Buena Vista ($24.00). Once in Buena Vista reach out to Colorado Adventure Tours, they provide FREE SHUTTLE service for Mt Princeton Hot Springs guests. To continue on to the Chalk Creek TH you can walk the last 2.5 miles of Seg 13 from the resort or you can try to secure a ride. A hitch is doable, Uber less likely while the CT Shuttler is probably your best bet. The RTD and Bustang services accept bikes and gear, but no pets.

Segment 15: Traveling to/from DIA and the HWY 50 TH

Salida is one of our favorite Colorado Trail towns to stay, relax, get cleaned up and resupply in. It is a full service town with history and plenty of places to take care of all your needs. While there, we highly recommend the Moonlight Pizza and Brewpub, a dog and hiker friendly restaurant and brewery to refuel at and enjoy some excellent town food. Tip, the in house Root Beer is amazing!

Take the Regional Transportation District (public transportation) A-Line Train to downtown Denver at Union Station ($10.50). Once at Union Station head downstairs to the Bustang bus, use the Outrider Crested Butte Bus to Salida ($29.00). From here you will need a ride to the trailhead (13 miles). A hitch is doable, Uber less likely while the CT Shuttler is probably your best bet. It would be a good idea to call a CT Shuttler beforehand and secure a ride to decide which stop would work best. The RTD and Bustang services accept bikes and gear, but no pets.

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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