The Colorado Trail: A multi-day experience for dirt bikers

Dirt bike rider on mountain trail
Dirt bike rider on mountain trail
Author Jason Lam
Associate Director of Data Analytics – Dairyland
June 21, 2024

The Colorado Trail is a 567-mile recreational trail that spans from Denver to Durango, passing through some of the most remarkable scenery in the Colorado Rockies. Most of the trail is designed for hiking and horseback riding, and closed to motorized vehicles, but there are about 100 total miles where e-bikes and dirt bikes can operate.

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This unique route is perfect for riders who are also interested in hiking or backpacking. There are dozens of access points where you can park your dirt bike and hike to see lookout points on the non-motorized sections. You can find directions in the official guidebook, which is a valuable resource if you plan to ride this trail and explore all it offers.

Here's what to consider before you plan your road trip.

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Colorado Trail motorized route map

With so many access points, it’s wise to create a solid plan. Choose which areas outside of the motorized sections you want to hike and know the boundaries of the motorized sections of the trail. Refer to our interactive map to plan your trip.

Weather along the Colorado Trail

This trail isn't accessible year-round, so visitors only have a small window to enjoy it. The Colorado Trail Foundation suggests visitors come between July 1 and September 30 to limit the risk of encountering snow.

The following data is based on average monthly temperatures in Monarch, CO.

Weather information for Monarch, CO

Off-road dirt bike safety tips

Be prepared for the mountainous terrain by wearing all your gear, all the time:

  • DOT-approved helmet that fits snugly

  • Goggles and a visor

  • Body armor, including back and chest plates and elbow and knee pads

  • Long pants and jackets

  • Gloves

  • Riding boots with ankle support

Sections of the Colorado Trail that allow motorized vehicles can be congested with visitors, especially on summer weekends. Speed is often the main safety concern.

Practicing trail courtesy is imperative for everyone’s safety, as there will be hikers, cyclists, and people on horseback. Follow these guidelines to properly share the trail with others on the Colorado Trail:

  • Speak to hikers and equestrians on the trail as you approach to avoid startling them or spooking horses.

  • Yield to all non-motorized vehicles and allow faster vehicles to pass.

  • Move off the trail to let others pass, especially people on horseback. Step off the trail on the downhill side unless it’s unsafe to do so.

  • Slow down and give a verbal warning if you’re going to pass someone on the trail.

The Colorado Trail is an alpine route, and you can spend time above the timberline, so you need to be aware of sudden storms and lightning. Keep an eye on the weather. If a thunderstorm comes, try to seek the safety of a valley.

Other safety concerns include mental fatigue and dehydration. Take breaks when needed, and make sure you pack and carry enough food and water for your trip. The Colorado Trail offers abundant water sources along the way, but don’t rely on them as your only option for hydration. The best practice is to top off your water whenever you have the chance.

Although sightings are rare, bears and mountain lions call this region home. Watch for animals crossing the road. And, if you have food with you, make sure to store it securely so animals aren’t tempted to sniff it out.

Stops to make along the Colorado Trail

While not all of the Colorado Trail is accessible via off-road vehicles, you can still ride to various access points to enjoy the scenery from Denver to Durango. There’s plenty to do in the surrounding areas once you trailer your dirt bikes. Here are some of our favorites.


The Mile High City is a beloved place among adventurers because it's a gateway to the region's thrilling mountain roads. This city is the perfect starting (or ending) point, depending on which direction you ride. Stop at one of the many access points to hike in, or if you want to access the motorized portion of the trail, head to segment 15 near Salida.

Before you head out, enjoy a meal at one of Denver's essential restaurants, fill your gas tank, and grab any last-minute supplies (especially if you're planning on hiking or camping). FERAL has the largest selection of used and new outdoor gear and clothing.

Salida (segments 14 and 15, mile 253)

Salida is a great base camp for riding the motorized segments of the Colorado Trail. You’ll find lodging, fuel, and places to purchase equipment and supplies. Take a dip in the Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center, taste some local brews at Soulcraft Brewing or Wood’s High Mountain Distillery, or enjoy one of the many outdoor hiking trails and parks.

Pike’s Peak

Known as America’s Mountain, Pike’s Peak is one of the largest and most accessible summits in the nation, making it a great place for groups and families. Pike’s Peak and the surrounding areas have miles of additional dirt bike- and ATV-accessible trails. It’s the perfect place to experience Colorado’s incredible terrain and extend your trip.

Royal Gorge Bridge & Park

About 50 miles east of Salida on Highway 50, you’ll find the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park, America’s highest suspension bridge. From the bridge, you can get an amazing look at the Arkansas River and the prehistoric features of the gorge. But the bridge is just the beginning!

Guests can ride a sky coaster, zipline, or take an aerial gondola across the gorge, and do some guided rock climbing. Throughout the year, you can also find special events, live music, and daily wildlife shows.

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*Data accuracy is subject to this article's publication date.