What is nearly 500 miles long, passes through six national forests and six wilderness areas, crosses five major river systems and touches eight of the state's mountain ranges? It's the Colorado Trail.

Called "mile for mile the most beautiful trail in America", the Colorado Trail extends from Denver to Durango, winding through Colorado's Rocky Mountains. Hikers of the much longer (2200 miles) Appalachian Trail in the eastern  United States might have a different opinion than the one offered on the Colorado Trail website.

The average elevation of the Colorado Trail is just over 10,000 feet, but with all the ups and downs, users of the trail will end up climbing a total of nearly 90,000 feet. Just for the record, that is a lot of climbing.

The trail is used by hikers,  horseback riders, and mountain bikers who access the trail at entry points at any of the 28 segments of the route. It's estimated that about 150 people complete the entire trail each year, which can take anywhere from four to six weeks on foot.

There are fishing opportunities along the trail, but it's recommended that hikers don't depend on fishing as their primary source of food during the hike.(especially if your fishing skills are like mine) Except for designated areas, camping is allowed along the trail. There is no charge to use the trail, though there may be a charge for camping in national forest sites.

If you want to do the trail, it would be prudent to purchase the Colorado Trail Map Book,  and the trail guidebook from the Colorado Trail on-line store.

The Colorado Trail Foundation maintains the trail, relying on a great many volunteers to provide improvements and maintenance. In 2019, the Colorado Trail will celebrate its 45th anniversary - and I hear it calling my name.