DENVER (CBS4) – Summer in Colorado means thousands of hikers are hitting the trails.
Some trails in the state get more traffic than others, and the Colorado Trail is one of the most popular. The state’s signature hiking trail runs from Denver to Durango.
Some hikers complete the trail segment by segment or hike it all at once, stopping in towns along the way to stock up on supplies.
It takes a lot of effort to do the hike, but it takes a lot more elbow grease to maintain the trail. CBS4 recently caught up with a crew of volunteers who were pitching in to help.
Tom Brooksher was leading the crew on a stretch of the trail near Kenosha Pass (Segment 4.2).
“So if you just went right up this little valley and kept going another 18 miles, you’d run into Kenosha Pass. If you go that way, I don’t know, 40 miles or so, you’d hit Denver,” Brooksher said.
The volunteers were on their last day of a week’s worth of work.
“This area — the trail has gotten narrow just over time. A lot of bushes have just grown up,” Brooksher said.
“We’re widening it and leveling it out and we’re setting it so that the water flows downhill. It will flow right over the trail and on down instead of collecting and eroding the trail,” another volunteer said.
Brooksher told CBS4 a typical week-long volunteer crew usually is able to get about a mile of trail spruced up.
“We have to pick our battles and determine where needs the work the most and go after it,” one volunteer said.
Last year volunteers Cindy and Mick Jeffery hiked the entire length of the trail in five weeks.
“It’s probably one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done,” Cindy said. “It will stay with me for the rest of my life.”
Now the couple is out helping to give the trail some tender loving care.
“You come out here for the way they feed you, the camaraderie with the other workers,” Mick said.
Volunteers Alexandra Racette and her friend Danielle Schlegel will begin college in the fall.
“So we wanted to do something fun, and we’ve always liked volunteering. I actually really like it. I’ve never been camping before and we live on a campsite and so it was whole new experience to me,” Racette said.
Laura Farmer, another volunteer, told CBS4 she has done this kind of work before.
“This is my 25th consecutive summer of working on the Colorado Trail,” Farmer said. “I like the people. It’s fun. I like the camping. It’s fun eating outside and sitting around the campfire at night. It’s just a great way to spend a week or two.”
Several members of the work crew were from far away.
“This is my first time to be here and it’s awesome,” said Dee Sellers, a Florida resident.
“There’s definitely something about getting away from, I guess, civilization as some people would say,” said Chris Stewart, from England. “I think when you’re actually working on the trail and you’re working the ground and the earth, you really get to understand the land that you wouldn’t learn otherwise.”
The Colorado Trail is nearly 500 miles long and was completed in September 1987. It begins at the Waterton Canyon trailhead in the southwest Denver metro area and cuts a diagonal route across the state, sometimes following the Continental Divide.
If you are interested in hiking the trail, contact the Colorado Trail Foundation for everything you need to make plans. You’ll also find information about how you can join a trail crew for a week, or a weekend. Call (303) 384-3729 or log on to coloradotrail.org.