Fall Colors · River/Creek · Spring · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
You're a trail runner, so this is probably preaching to the choir, but BE PREPARED. There aren't a lot of easy bail out points along the trail. You'll cross a couple roads and some private driveways and go by a couple trailheads, but bring enough food and water, tell someone where you're going and when you plan to be back, and keep your wits about you for critters and weather. From this trail it is hard to see the weather rolling in over the Collegiate Peaks, and weather in the mountains can always quickly change. The trail is almost exclusively tree-covered and you are below treeline the entire way, so lightning/thunderstorm danger is not as high as some trails, but don't discount it. But otherwise, be safe and have fun!
Segment 14 of the Colorado Trail starts at the Chalk Creek Trailhead. From Highway 285, go west on 162 (Chalk Creek Drive). There is a Mount Princeton Hot Springs sign at the turn. Follow 162 past Mount Princeton Hot Springs to the trailhead. There is parking on both the left and right side of the street.
The trail starts on the left (south) side of the street. Turning left (east), onto Bunny Lane will take you onto Segment 13. Crossing the bridge and heading west will take you onto Segment 14. The trail starts out relatively easy, then quickly turns to a short, but steep, climb. You top out on this first climb around mile 1.5 and are rewarded with awesome views of the Chalk Cliffs. Catch your breath and enjoy the view! From there, you'll traverse the ridge a bit before starting a steady, rolling climb.
There are a couple trail intersections between mile 6 and 7 where you want to stay awake. The trail is pretty well marked with the Colorado Trail markers, but you have to slow down and look around to make sure you are on the right route. Especially in the fall or winter where the trail can be harder to see through leaves and snow, make sure to find the markers to confirm the correct path.
You'll travel through many ups and downs that are challenging, but manageable until you reach the high point (10,500 feet) around mile 11. Enjoy the descent, but fear not! There is more climbing ahead. The best part of the run (in my opinion) is the descent on the ridge from about mile 13 to 15. The views are stunning, and it's pure joy to bomb down the trail!
At the bottom of the trail, you'll pass through Angel of Shavano Trailhead before starting your final climb. Again, the trail is marked with the CT markers to guide your way across the road. The final climb is a touch over a mile and a quarter, and then there is a rolling downhill to the finish. The descent down to Highway 50 is relatively steep, but not technical. Once you reach the highway, you have completed Segment 14.
Overall, this section will reward you with great views, relative solitude, non-technical singletrack, challenging climbs, breathtaking descents, magical trips through the aspens, many bridge crossings and a healthy taste of why we all love Colorado so much.
Shared By: Amy Hillers