View Full Version : Colorado Trail-Trail Conditions; Molas Pass to Durango

07-12-2009, 14:21
Some friends (3) and I are doing a section of the Colorado Trail from Elk Park (getting there via Durango-Silverton Railroad) back to Durango in a couple of weeks (mid-August). Are there any bear issues currently being reported (or a specific area currently or in the past with bear activity) that one would advise our carrying bear canisters? We've had lots of exposure to the bears in the Smokies and certainly do not want to lose our food; but we don't want to haul a bear canister if bear activity is non-existent. Of course we'll hang our food, but it would be helpful to hear from others having done this section already, and their experiences. The guide book also mentions a 24-mile section without any water - from Hotel Draw Rd to Kennebec trailhead. Since we don't want to blow through this 24-mile segment (nor not fit enough), is it possible to drop down of of the ridge to find water along the way? If so, which side (east/west); location; and how far down do we need to hike? If there is a campsite close to these water sources we may decide to make it a destination and camp for the night. Thank you for your help.

07-12-2009, 14:45
Don't know about bears, but I took that train trip last year on my way back to Denver to fly back to Florida after being in Moab, Utah. Whew. That is beautiful country and I thought then that I would love to come back and spend some time up there. That ride along the river is breathtaking, I took so many pics. I did some tents and a few kayakers running the river. Saw lots of deer but would have to say that it looks like bear country. Hope you have a great time.

07-12-2009, 14:47
I have to correct that last time I did not do some tents and kayakers I saw some tents and kayakers. Just felt the need to correct that statement knowing how sharp most of the people on here are.

07-13-2009, 09:32
That is a beautiful stretch of trail -- you should enjoy it!

Generally you don't need to be overly concerned with bears on the CT, this section included. Take normal precautions, like no food in your tent, etc -- you shouldn't need a canister.

It is possible to drop off of the ridge for water in that long dry stretch, though you may have to hike a mile or two down. One possibility would be the Ryman Creek Trail down the west side. I would think you could camp on this creek, though I don't have first-hand knowledge.

Have a good trip!

07-13-2009, 09:40
I remember seeing (and getting water from) a seep in that section.
It wasn't on the map or guidebook but saved me from going way down.

If it's been dry, you may have to worry about water.
But if the snow has just melted or it's been raining, you should be able to find some water here and there.

07-13-2009, 09:41
You should look at MAGs profile he is an expert on the CT. You will find some good info there. You will not need to bring a bear canister as long as you hang your food.

07-13-2009, 11:35
i hiked this section last year in early september and the waterless stretch was not waterless. there were plenty of small but flowing streams crossing the trail. as for bears, every one ive come across here in colorado is going to want to stay away from you as much as you will. ive always slept with my food here in co with a tarp and tents and never had an issue but thats my opinion and i know many people who also chose not to hang there food here either.

07-25-2009, 12:26
Hello All - just wanted to acknowledge your replies and say "thanks, much."
I'm about 2 weeks away from heading to do this section of the CT and will continue to watch this posting for anyone else who may have wanted to reply but hadn't yet.

07-25-2009, 14:54
i am picking up 2 friends in durango tommorow that are wraping up a thru hike ill pick them for the latest info on that sectoin and let you know on here.

07-25-2009, 17:31
Elk Park is one of my most favorite sections, but you will be starting at the end of it. Still a very nice stretch. Last fall water was at most of the unreliable spots and a couple of others not mentioned. I would carry a canister before I hung my food - even though I don't think either one is warranted. Unless you are very skilled and smarter than the average bear, bagging your food is a gamble with the possibility of deadly results.:-? Research the PCT method and practice it if bagging becomes your first choice.:) Pack out your paper/ trash and have a great trip!:D

07-29-2009, 19:57
I just completed the CT from Denver to Durango (on Saturday) and only met one hiker who encountered a bear on the CT. That encounter was in the Lost Creek Wilderness (section 5) which is nowhere near where you'll be. There are definitely bears out there but people just don't seem to see them.

I would encourage hanging your food to keep it away from rodents but I will say that only a small minority of the CT hikers I met actually hung their food. Definitely no bear canisters.

In terms of water, that particular stretch has two "seasonal" springs which were both flowing well enough last week. The exact locations are listed in both the data book and the guide book. Going from Molas to Durango, the first spring is WNW off the trail at the intersection of two forest service roads (I forget the numbers). You basically drop down a hill to an old logging road and follow the road to a switchback. The second spring is actually right along the left of the trail, maybe .2 miles from the old CT/scenic overlook trail.

Good luck and enjoy!

07-29-2009, 20:01
In terms of camping, I wouldn't sweat it. There are great (but dry) spots all along the ridge between the two springs I just mentioned.

08-03-2009, 10:29
Thank you for the concise information, about the water sources and the bears. I too have (and will carry) the most recent guide and data pages - but just needed some sort of insight re: bears and confirmation that there is really some h2o in the area. As a group, I think everyone will be happy NOT to have to carry those heavy bear canisters - I know I will! The guide and CT website say "seasonal" and having never backpacked in CO (just a lot of miles on the Appalachian Trail and in the Sierras); seasonal means . . . mud/nothing in the summer. I suppose the afternoon storms of CO replenish these seeps? The plan for us flatlanders (we live at 600 feet) since we are not doing high miles is to dry camp just after the spring at the intersection of Hotel Draw Rd and Scotch Creek Rd - these are the 2 service roads you mentioned above but didn't know their names. Then the next day we'll head for the seeps mentioned in the guidebook just before reaching the "old CT/scenic overlook trail." This way we'll have plenty of time the following morning to walk that narrow and exposed ridge which starts sometime after the intersection of the Grindstone Trail. And, a short walk to Taylor Lake. Again, I thank you so much for your input - we're here for another 2 weeks and welcome any other advise you wish to pass along. My regards!