[design image slice] U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service on faded trees in medium light green background [design image slice] more faded trees

Rocky Mountain Region

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hiking in the lost creek wilderness

photo by Jesse Speer

Historic and Scenic Trails

  • American Discovery Trail
  • Colorado Trail
  • Continental Divide National Scenic Trail
  • Santa Fe Trail
  • Ute Trail

Trail Finder! - Coming Soon

American Discovery Trail

The American Discovery Trail route through Colorado, the Centennial State, offers a great variety of challenges and spectacular scenery. The ADT crosses the eastern plains of Colorado following the paths of explorers and pioneers in their wagons painted with "Pikes Peak or Bust!". West of Denver, the towering Rocky Mountains provide magnificent backcountry travel through six national forests on trails that rise above timberline to reveal breathtaking views. The ADT crosses 15 mountain passes over 9,000 feet high including four that are above 12,000 feet. The route crosses the Continental Divide twice and uses portions of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail and the Colorado Trail.


Colorado Trail Logo Colorado Trail

Stretching from Denver to Durango, the Colorado Trail fulfills the dreams one would expect of a high mountain educational and recreational hiking trail which connects 500 miles of Colorado's magnificent mountainsides. It is high and mighty and it is diverse, therefore demanding, because of its tremendous changes in elevation and the expanse of area it covers. It crosses eight mountain ranges, seven national forests, six wilderness areas and five river systems. The trail winds from wild, rugged terrain to serene and pristine settings. The Colorado Trail meanders through some of the most beautiful terrain in the state. The Colorado Trail is maintained by the non-profit Colorado Trail Foundation in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service.


Continental Divide Trail Logo Continental Divide National Scenic Trail

The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail is a 3,100 mile long trail that runs on or near the Continental Divide, following the spine of the Rocky Mountains from Canada to Mexico. The Continental Divide is so named as it divides the watershed systems within North America, between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The route is not complete, especially in areas of largely private land in southern Wyoming and northern New Mexico. Most of the route through Colorado has been designated, though some stretches of trail are not yet completely built. Additional trail information can be found at www.cdtrail.org.


Nez Perce National Historic Trail

The 1877 flight of the Nez Perce from their homelands while pursued by U.S. Army Generals Howard, Sturgis, and Miles, is one of the most fascinating and sorrowful events in Western U.S. history. Chief Joseph, Chief Looking Glass, Chief White Bird, Chief Ollokot, Chief Lean Elk, and others led nearly 750 Nez Perce men, women, and children and twice that many horses over 1,170 miles through the mountains, on a trip that lasted from June to October of 1877.

Santa Fe Trail

Between 1821 and 1880, the Santa Fe Trail was primarily a commercial highway connecting Missouri and Santa Fe, New Mexico. From 1821 until 1846, it was an international commercial highway used by Mexican and American traders. In 1846, the Mexican-American War began. The Army of the West followed the Santa Fe Trail to invade New Mexico. When the Treaty of Guadalupe ended the war in 1848, the Santa Fe Trail became a national road connecting the United States to the new southwest territories. Commercial freighting along the trail continued, including considerable military freight hauling to supply the southwestern forts. The trail was also used by stagecoach lines, thousands of gold seekers heading to the California and Colorado gold fields, adventurers, fur trappers, and emigrants. In 1880 the railroad reached Santa Fe and the trail faded into history. Visit the Santa Fe Trail visitor information site.


Ute Trail

The Ute Trail climbs from the Colorado River at Dotsero to the Flat Tops through mountain brush and pinyon - juniper woodland, eventually reaching forested land. The scenery is panoramic, and wildlife watching is good. The Ute Indians originally used the trail until late 1800's for access over the Flat Tops to the Meeker area. Prospectors used the trail to access the Caronate mining area for a short-lived silver rush in the early 1900's and later became a National Forest trail and wagon road until replaced by the Coffee Pot Road.


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USDA logo, which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo, which links to the agency's national site.