Route: Colorado Trail (CO)

Colorado, US
500 mi
Vertical Gain
90,000 ft
The Colorado Trail (CT) runs 500 miles from Denver to Durango. It travels through some of the most spectacular country in Colorado, through 6 wilderness areas and eight mountain ranges. The CT was first conceived in 1974, but was not completed until the late 1980's.

Summary of supported FKT progression for the full Colorado Trail:
1988 Dale Garland, Dave LaFranboise, John McAward, John Wolgamott about 17d (W-E, Collegiate East)
1999 Buzz Burrell 11d16h13m (E-W, Collegiate East)
2003 Betsy Kalmeyer 9d10h52m (E-W, Collegiate East)
2003 Hal Koerner 9d10h19m (E-W, Collegiate East)
2006 Jonathan Basham 8d13h28m (E-W, Collegiate East)
2008 Paul Pomeroy 8d12h14m5s (W-E, Collegiate East)   
2013 Scott Jamie 8d7h40m (W-E, Collegiate East)
2017 Bryan Williams 8d0h30m (W-E, Collegiate West)


Summary of unsupported FKT progression for the full Colorado Trail:

2004 Demetri "Coup" Coupounas about 20d
2006 Paul Pomeroy 14d9h30m 
2012 Shawn Forry 10d19h5m (E-W)
2016 John Zahorian 9d12h32m (E-W)


The first speed record on the Colorado Trail happened in 1988, almost immediately after the trail was completed -- so soon that the route was hard to follow in many spots. Dale Garland, Dave LaFranboise, John McAward and John Wolgamott ran from Durango to Denver in about 17 days.

Buzz Burrell & Peter Bakwin hit the CT back in 1999. They started the eastern end (Waterton Canyon) because it meant they could sleep at home in Boulder the night before the start, and because most backpackers go east to west. Bakwin got injured after 7 days and had to stop. Burrell went on to lower the record to 11d16h13m.

In 2003, Betsy Kalmeyer smashed Burrell's record, running 9d10h52m. Betsy's time was beaten just 3 days later and by only a few minutes by Hal Koerner, 9d10h19m (shows the advantage of knowing the existing record!) Both Kalmeyer and Koerner ran east to west.

Jonathan Basham ran 8d13h28m (east to west) in July 14-22, 2006, supported by AT-record-holder Andrew Thompson. Basham's daily splits are here.

The La Sportiva Adventure Running blog has some great information about Paul Pomeroy's CT record, which I'll quote extensively here:

"Paul Pomeroy of Lyons, Colorado just broke Jonathan Basham’s Colorado Trail Record. Paul went 'under the radar' by choice; almost no one knew he was even on the Trail. 'I did it entirely for personal reasons', he notes. 'I didn’t want to talk it up. I wanted to do it'. Paul is well-known in local running circles as an outstanding athlete, with a great wit and sense of honor. Fortunately he is also gracious and articulate, and generously shared a few words with me about his recent trip:

It was definitely arduous. That’s an understatement. It just about finished me off. Let me just say I’m not looking to repeat this anytime soon. Getting toward Denver the heat became a problem. My feet were swollen and my shin hurt, but decided to go for broke and pay the price after. I taped it up, took some Advil, and did 74 miles the last day. I left at 1 AM and reached Waterton (the northern terminous) at 12:15 AM the next night. That was on about 1 hour of sleep to begin with. I basically made a last desperate burst to Waterton, looking at my watch the whole way.

Paul clocked 8 days, 12 hrs, 14 mins, 5 seconds, bettering the previous mark by about one and a quarter hours. The record is tight! Paul shared more interesting thoughts:

I could only move so fast. So its how long can you keep moving? It’s like nothing else I’ve ever done. A sleep deprivation thing. Sometimes I couldn’t walk a straight line, sometimes my eyes couldn’t focus. 18-20 hours a day ... it’s hard to believe a person can keep it going ... not real high on the fun factor, that’s for sure. My crew was great; obviously it was a team effort. It was my wife Suzanne, my mother, and my son Ethan was along too. We only had a couple of missteps; cost maybe 2 hours total. We had a pop-up camper which was essential.

Towards the end of his CT run, in a very unusual twist, Paul met Sam Thompson running the other direction with the same intention:

I was surprised to meet Sam on the Trail, going the other way. There’s only a one month period when you can do these things, so I thought I’d do it now and maybe have the Record for one year. While I’m not exactly going to root for him to break my record, I’m not against him either ... he’s a nice guy, and I set out to do a certain thing, and I did it, so I’m happy. Someone will always be faster … I thought it was possible to do this in 8 days flat, and I couldn’t do that ... someone else probably can, if they can run more. When Jonathan did it he was 29; that’s a good age ... I’m 47, and I don’t know if I have another one of these left in me. I emailed him my time, so he would know. That’s only fair; I knew Basham’s time, and went for it, so he should know mine."

Sam Thompson's trip began July 25, 2008, at Waterton Canyon, and was recorded daily in a blog. The blog reports the decision to quit as follows:
It was a heartbreaking decision, but Sam and Kirsten very wisely decided to pull out with 70 miles to go. Essentially, logistics and the inaccessibility of the trail is what mattered in the end, not Sam's ability to keep going. Here's what happened: Earlier in day 8, Kirsten and one of the photographers tried to forge a creek, but the engine flooded, rendering the Jeep inoperable (it had to be towed away). Because the crew couldn't reach Sam's checkpoint, he kept going while drinking water from the creek / river and eating the food he had left. Meanwhile, Kirsten and the photographer hitchhiked into Silverton, met up with Kirsten's parents, and somehow made it to the next checkpoint. When Sam arrived at the checkpoint, a decision had to be made. The crew couldn't find a local marathoner on such short notice to accompany Sam on the nighttime leg of day 8 (there are actually quite a few ultramarathoners in Silverton), so the two options were:
a) For Sam to tackle the trail at night by himself
b) To call it.
Although nobody doubted that Sam could physically keep going until the end, safety had to be the biggest concern. Badly fatigued (yet still determined, persistent, and able), Sam would have taken a huge risk to keep going without some assurance that the crew could make it to the next checkpoint. Further, without a running partner to help Sam navigate, staying on the trail in complete darkness would have been just too much of a risk to take.

David Horton also made a failed attempt to break Paul Pomeroy's supported record for the Colorado Trail, starting on July 4, 2009, at Waterton Canyon. Horton was supported by former CT record holder, Jonathan Basham. As indicated on this website, Horton had metabolic problems and had to stop after completing 330 miles in 6 days. Here are some exerpts from Horton's report on the blog of his trip:

Going after the CT record might have been my most difficult multi-day attempt so far. The CT record is very TOUGH. The trail itself was tougher than I thought it would be. I averaged 40 miles per day on the PCT and AT and 45 miles per day running across America. Averaging over 54 miles per day on the CT was VERY tough. I started every day before daylight, usually around 4:00 AM and finished every day after dark. My average time on the trail was around 17 hours per day. This left very little time for anything. I was usually in bed 30 to 45 minutes after finishing each day. Each day, the last section ATE my lunch. It took everything that I had to finish each day. I never knew at night if I would be able to go again the next day... Could I have run the next day? Yes. Could I have caused myself or others some serious problems? Yes... I hope that God blesses all of you as he has blessed me. Seek your dreams and goals. -- David Horton

Scott Jamie did the CT fully supported in 11d12h46m, September 2-13, 2009. This is a fast time, but still 3 days over the record.

Matt Hart went after the CT record (supported) in July 2010, but only managed 9d7h48m. This is still the 3rd fastest time, and it speaks to the difficulty of the current record. Matt's blog is here.

After 3 days I had run 180.6 miles to the dam road by Twin Lakes. I was now 10 miles ahead of the record pace. But I paid for it the following day where I only logged 38 miles and couldn't stay awake. And so it goes, I made a lot of mistakes, didn't plan well enough for some sections, was stranded a few times and hypothermic once. None of that matters or tarnishes the experience because that is the experience. All of these things are expected when the goal is something this huge. -- Matt Hart

Scott Jamie returned to the CT and broke the supported record, running west to east in 8d7h40, August 16-24, 2013. More info and photos on

Jamie's supported FKT was broken by Bryan Williams, who ran the CT in 8d0h30m, August 26 - September 3, 2017. Williams went west to east and took the Collegiate West option, which appears to be a little (83 vs. 78 miles) longer than the standard Collegiate East route, with a more vertical and overall higher elevation. He started with Eric Truhe, who suffered a stress fracture after 3.5 days (200 miles) and had to stop. Williams' tracker data was archived by

While supported and unsupported records on the CT have been contested for years, only recently has a fast self-supported trip been reported. Brandon Stapanowich hiked the CT in 9d14h28m, July 6-15, 2016, using standard thru-hiker style, including 3 resupplies en route (as indicated below). Stapanowich hiked west to east, and took the somewhat harder Collegiate West option (longer, more vertical gain, higher elevation). More info is below.

The CT has also seen a few truly unsupported trips. Unsupported means you carry all your food from the start, basically getting nothing but water en route. The CT was first done this way in 2004 by Demetri (Coup) Coupounas, the founder of GoLite, in about 20 days. Coup carried a big pack full of food, but also lost 25 lbs body weight on the hike. Coup also did the JMT and the LT unsupported that year, completing the "Triple Gem" of backpacking. In another of his classic trips, Paul Pomeroy attacked the CT unsupported in 2006 -- with a vow of silence for the entire trip. Paul finished in 14d9h30m, dropping 16 lbs of body weight that he could ill-afford to lose. In August 2012, Shawn Forry crushed Pomeroy's unsupported time by hiking the trail (east to west) in a remarkable 10d19h5m. Forry carried a SPOT Tracker, and his track is archived on A very detailed report with daily splits is on Forry's blog. He reports doing a few things that could be considered (small) violations of unsupported and FKT efforts, including: taking food/calories from happenstance sources ("Trail Magic") on 4 occasions, totalling 3 sodas and some fruit slices; buying a repair kit for his sleeping pad; disposing of trash and un-needed food along the way; and walking off-route (but not fewer miles) on 4 occasions to obtain water. John Zahorian reports hiking the CT unsupported in a very fast 9d12h32m, July 11-20, 2016. While it took Zahorian 6 months to complete a trip report (his video, while long, is really worth watching!), we see no reason to dispute his claim of a new unsupported FKT. Bronson Hargreaves reports a remarkable unsupported time for the CT of 8d18h7m, August 14-23, 2016, less than 18 hours slower than the fully supported record! However, we look forward to seeing additional information and verification data Hargreaves' trip before acknowledging a new unsupported FKT (see discussion on our old website). Hargreaves made a second attempt in 2017, but stopped after 109 miles, a few hours behind FKT pace.

In an interesting innovation, a group of 5 men ran the CT relay style in 3d15h54m, Sept. 7-10, 2017, as reported by the Durango Herald. The runners were Brett Sublett, Kyle Curtin, Tate Lagasca, Holden Rennaker and Shaun Burke. Such relays have not been common for trail FKT attempts, but could add an interesting new element if standards can be created.

The CT also hosts an informal mountain bike race. Mountain bikers must deviate from the hiker route in several places to avoid wilderness areas. The guiding principles of the race are simply stated as follows: Solo, self-supported. This is a very pure style of racing with a strict code of ethics. The guiding principles are 'Do it yourself.' and 'Equal opportunity.' In 2007 Jefe Branham set the fastest time at 5d5h30m (followed just 20 minutes later by Stefan Griebel). In the 2008 race Ethan Passant lowered the mark to 5d2h26m. But, a week later Owen Murphy did the route as an "individual time trial" in a stunning time of 4d8h45m. Murphy's report includes the following lines that I think will resonnate with many who engage in these types of individual adventures:

I can only shake my head in disbelief at the good fortune I encountered along the Colorado Trail: perfect weather, interesting people, no major mechanicals, and no major physical or mental meltdowns. I cashed in some serious good karma along the way and I am very grateful to everybody who loaned me some of theirs (I’ll pay you back)! The stars may never align like that again, but I’m already hoping they do next summer.

Stefan Griebel combined biking and hiking, to cover the entire official CT in 7d20h from July 28 to August 5, 2006. His report is here.

GPS Track






I will be attempting the unsupported Colorado Trail West to East, via Collegiate West FKT. I will start in Durango on the morning of 8/5. I will carry all my own food and gear from start to finish and will receive no aid of any kind. I will follow all the prescribed guidance relating to unsupported attempts. I will do my best to provide lots of updates here:


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My hiking partner (Liz Derstine) and I (Tara Dower) will be attempting to set a self-supported FKT on the Colorado Trail (east to west) collegiate east. Our tracking links have been sent to FKT but won’t be public. We will post updates via our Instagram accounts @tara.dower and @pinkfeathers. We start tomorrow early morning and hope to finish the trail within 9.5 days. 

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Hi all!

I would like to announce that I will be attempting to set the Self-Supported FKT on the Colorado Trail, East to West, Collegiate West Route. I will be tracking using a Garmin inReach, and you can follow along with my tracking link at I'm borrowing my friend's inReach and so the name on the tracking link is "Raffi Garabedian" and the title of the page is "Ari and gang". I'll be posting to my Instagram account here: when I have service. I will also take timestamped and geotagged pictures, and talk to people along the trail.

I have mailed myself food drops to a few aid stations along the way and will not be receiving any support from friends or family, though I may stay in towns along the way and buy food from stores. I will not have anyone meet me along the way to hike with me or offer moral support. The current Female Self-Supported FKT on this route was set by Marilyne Marchand-Gouin at 14 days, 13 hours, and 58 minutes. I will try to beat this time and at the same time set the first Self-Supported Male FKT on SOBO collegiate west.

Happy Trails,

Keegan Pelton

Checking back in - I made it from Waterton Canyon to Mile 300 at the Gunnison/Saguache road crossing in 10 days when I decided to get off trail due to worsening hamstring pain. FKT's are hard.

Good evening, 

I will go Denver to Durango via the West Collegiate route starting early tomorrow (8/9/23) morning. Self-supported. See you out there! e

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What's the official beginning/ending of the Colorado Trail at the east terminus? Is it the start of Waterton Canyon by the road, or is it the start of the singletrack, many miles up canyon?

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Hi all,

I (nina “mooch” bridges) am attempting unsupported from Denver to Durango starting 8/15/23 taking the collegiate east route. I will follow all unsupported guidelines and carry all my own food and gear. I have shared my tracking info with the FKT people. 

see you out there :)

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Jk. My backpack strap ripped off 28 miles in so I’m restarting supported 8/16

Hello all,

Cut and paste from 2020!

I will attempt to improve on Joe Grant's (le bon coureur franco-americain) SUPPORTED FKT of E-W Colorado Trail (8d20h09m), Collegiate west variant. I will have a great support team: my oldest friend, David Greedy, my dear wife Queenie McGufferson, my French friends Victor Gravot and his belle Benedicte. Plus Bodhi Cheater. 

I'm planning to start early morning August 23rd at Waterton CYN. 

I'm excited by another opportunity and humbled by the many attempts in the last few years. The CT has been vanquished this year by three strong women! 2 on foot and Katya on the CTR!

This 51 year chassis feels pretty good but there's some niggles! 

My inreach will be transmitting my location from start to finish every day, assuming no issues with battery life, etc. I will likely have a backup Garmin if necessary. I will turn off at night. 

My garmin:


Cheers, Andre'

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I will be attempting to set a supported FKT on the Colorado Trail West to East, Collegiate West. I will start in Durango the morning of August 25. 

My tracking link is:

See you on the trail!

Melinda McCaw

I will be attempting to set a new unsupported FKT on the Colorado Trail from West to East via Collegiate East. I will be starting at the Junction Creek Trailhead (by Durango) the morning of Saturday August 26th. I will be carrying all of my food and gear from the start.

My progress can be tracked here: Updates will be posted here:

I hope to see some of you out there!

Nathaniel Gilbert

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Hi All!

I will starting my attempt of the self-supported Colorado Trail, west to east and collegiate east. 

I will be starting in Durango the morning of the 26th and cannot wait to see where this journey takes my mind and body! Looks like there will be a few of us out there around this time so look forward to seeing some friendly (and fast) faces!

I will be live tracking using my Garmin inReach and will have a backup of the route tracked on my watch.

I will also attempt to post updates to my Instagram but we will see how well the brain is working :)

I am still working on my fully supported FKT. Garman problems. May switch to my wife’s. I am 10 miles south of Cottonwood on collegiate West.

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Howdy folks!

I will be hiking the Colorado Trail following the East to West, Collegiate West route.  This will be an Unsupported attempt and I will carry everything I need from the start, except water.  I will follow all the unsupported guidelines and will be using a Garmin inReach for live tracking and as a backup will record each day's progress via Caltopo on my phone.  

I plan on starting at Waterton Canyon on Friday September 1st.

- Dave Svoboda



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Hey there,

Will set out early on Monday morning to complete the trail from Denver to Durango (Collegiate West) in under 9d8h to try for the overall unsupported record. As a conciliatory measure I'll shoot for just completing the effort while still unsupported in whatever form that takes. I will be live tracking and verifying data afterwards with watch .gpx.



Excited to see everyone out there and take part in some good views!

Happy trails,
Michael "Cougar Bait" Robertson

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It's been 10 years since I raced the CT on my MTB. Whatever could have gone wrong, did: my shoes fell apart on Copper, I got asthma that stuck with me to the end on Princeton, my fork blew a seal which means I lost all dampening before the San Juans, I ran out of food before Lake City - and doing the whole thing without a sleeping bag is still somewhat of a questionable move on my part. Good fun, all the way through. Live and learn.

I'm feeling the pull of the trail again and I thought it a wild idea to race just it but this time from the opposite direction, leaving the bike at home, and using just my two feet and a backpack. I'll be starting out this Thursday Sept 21 from Durango and heading towards Denver. I'll be gunning for bettering the unsupported record that Nathaniel so generously premiered. My tracker is located here:

Elevation gain each day seems within my abilities but daily mileage is a big unknown. Looking forward to following a trail for this project rather than clutching on for dear life on some knife edge ridge. May even be some water available on the route too. See you out there! I'll have the yellow backpack with the Slayer patch sewn on it.