6925 Cabriolet Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80923
General Overview of the 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 three times and uses portions of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail and the Colorado Trail.
Warning: Plan your trip to cross the passes in July and August to avoid blizzard conditions and closures. Weather conditions can change suddenly and the effects of high altitude can be extreme. Users must guard against dehydration and hypothermia. The official route requires backpacking and camping in remote areas. Some parts prohibit bicycles and some terrain is unsafe for bicycles. Contact the State coordinator for advice on alternate routes to suit your particular mode of travel and capabilities.
Detailed Trail Description
The total length of the ADT in Colorado is 1,153 miles. The northern route from Nebraska to Utah is 776 miles long. The southern route from Kansas to Utah is 912 miles. Most of the route east of Denver uses roads; west of Denver it is mostly off road on trails.
Seg 1 – Southeast Segment (Kansas/Colorado State Line to Canon City) – 219 miles
From Kansas, the ADT crosses the eastern plains of Colorado along the Arkansas River climbing from 3,555 feet to 5,293 feet over a distance of 219 miles. The ADT follows the general route of the old Santa Fe Trail to La Junta and passes by Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site. It also goes through John Martin State Park and Lake Pueblo State Park. The route uses county and state roads through the pastoral countryside.
Santa Fe Trail
Colorado State Parks
Bent’s Old Fort
TOPO! Colorado CD-ROM, Colorado Atlas &
Gazetteer (DeLorme) or Colorado Road & Recreation Atlas (Benchmark Maps), Trails
Illustrated # 137
Seg 2 – Front Range Segment (Canon City to Denver) – 158 miles
This section takes the traveler through the Front Range where the eastern plains meet the foothills of the Rockies. Starting at 5,293 feet, the route climbs to 9,165 feet at Ute Pass in the shadow of Pikes Peak and then descends to Colorado Springs at 6,008 feet and proceeds on to Denver at 5,280 feet. Highlights include Cripple Creek (world’s greatest gold camp), Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak Greenway, U.S. Air Force Academy, and the South Platte River Trail.
www.woodlandparkchamber.com – Woodland Park Chamber of Commerce
www.gmfco.us – Green Mountain Falls
Maps: Colorado Atlas & Gazetteer (DeLorme), Pike National Forest, Trails Illustrated # 135 and # 137.
Seg 3 – Northeast Segment (Nebraska to Denver) – 241 miles
From Nebraska, the ADT crosses the eastern plains of Colorado along the South Platte River, climbing from 3,448 feet to 5,280 feet over a distance of 241 miles. Highlights include Fort Sedgwick, Overland Trail, and Fort Vasquez museums, and the South Platte River Trail. The route uses county and state roads through the pastoral countryside.
Maps: Colorado Atlas & Gazetteer (DeLorme), TOPO! Colorado CD-ROM
Seg 4 – East Mountain Segment (Denver to Winfield) – 227 miles
In this segment, the ADT starts at 5,317 feet and climbs over the foothills of the Rockies into the high alpine country to cross seven passes, four of which are over 12,000 feet high. The highest point on the ADT is at the Argentine Pass (13,207 feet) on the Continental Divide.
The ADT is often above timberline for breathtaking views. It follows the Continental Divide Trail for 9 miles from Webster Pass to Georgia Pass, crossing the summits of four peaks over 12,000 feet high.
From Georgia Pass the route follows the Colorado Trail for 106 miles, passing through the Holy Cross and Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Areas.
This segment crosses high mountain passes and ridges where it can snow any day of the year.
Highlights: Georgetown National Historic District, Leadville (highest incorporated city in the U.S.), great wilderness hiking and camping, spectacular scenery.
TOPO! Colorado CD-ROM, San
Isabel National Forest, Trails Illustrated # 100, # 104, # 109, # 110, # 126, # 127 and #
129, Trails Illustrated # 1202 (Colorado Trail North), the Colorado Trail Databook – 8th
Bike Detours: Parts of the ADT route go through wilderness areas where bicycles are prohibited and over rough terrain where mountain bike travel is difficult. Recommended bike detours are at the end of the segment.
Seg 5 – West Mountain Segment (Winfield to Redstone) – 130 miles
This segment features some of the most spectacular and breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains. It starts on Clear Creek Road and follows the Continental Divide Trail for 16 miles, passing through the ghost towns of Vicksburg and Winfield before entering the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Area. The ADT then climbs past Lake Ann to cross the Continental Divide and descend into spectacular Taylor Park.
The route climbs to the Continental Divide at Taylor Pass (11,929 feet) before descending down East Brush Creek to historic Crested Butte, “Mountain Bike Capital of the World.”? Then the ADT climbs over Paradise Pass (11,250 feet) Schofield Pass (10,707 feet) and then down the beautiful Crystal Creek Canyon to Marble and Redstone.
Warning: The first 62 miles of this segment go through remote backcountry (no shelter/services). Alternate routes may be more appropriate for some travelers. Also, inquire locally about the condition of the passes, which are often closed by snow.
www.legendsofamerica.com/ghosts-of-clear-creek-canyon/ – Winfield ghost town.
Maps: TOPO! Colorado CD-ROM, Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests, San Isabel National Forest, Gunnison National Forest, White River National Forest, Trails Illustrated #129, #131
Bike Detours: Parts of the ADT route through this segment enter a wilderness area and are over rough terrain where mountain bike travel is difficult. Recommended bike and snow detours are at the end of the segment.
Seg 6 – West Segment (Redstone to Utah) – 178 miles
From Redstone at 7,192 feet, the ADT reaches elevations of 10,380 feet (near Twin Peaks), 10,668 feet (The Flat Tops), and 11,159 feet (Crags Crest) before plunging down into the Grand Valley to a low of 4,430 feet at Salt Creek Bridge. This segment features some of the most scenic backcountry in the world in the White River and Grand Mesa National Forests, the spectacular Colorado National Monument, and the challenging Kokopelli’s Trail in desert conditions. Obtain local advice before beginning Kokopelli’s Trail.
Warning: This segment of the ADT takes travelers across more than 70 miles of rough remote uninhabited backcountry (no houses, phones, food, treated water, shelter). Discuss your plans with the Colorado State Coordinator before attempting this leg. Alternate routes may be safer for some travelers.
www.fs.fed.us/r2/spf/ – Click on Select A Forest – White River NF and Grand Mesa NF
Maps: TOPO! Colorado CD-ROM; Colorado Atlas & Gazetteer (DeLorme); Trails Illustrated # 128, # 136, and # 208; White River National Forest; Grand Mesa National Forest. Map of Kokopelli’s Bike Trail by Rick Showalter
Bike Detours: Parts of the ADT route through this segment are over rough terrain where mountain bike travel is difficult. Recommended bike detours are listed at the end of the segment.
Colorado has almost 30 species of ticks – read more about protecting yourself here
- Pueblo River Trail System
- Arkansas Riverwalk Trail
- Gold Camp Trail
- Ute Pass Trail
- America The Beautiful Trail
- Cavalier Park Trail
- Fountain Creek Greenway
- Green Mountain Falls Bikeway
- Sinton Trail
- Pikes Peak Greenway
- New Santa Fe Trail
- Greenland Open Space Trail
- Indian Creek Trail
- Carpenter Peak Trail
- Waterton Canyon – Colorado Trail, Seg 1
- Chatfield Trails System
- Mary Carter Greenway
- South Platte River Trail
- Bear Creek Beltway
- Castle Trail
- Pioneer Trail
- Spring Creek Trail
- South Park Trail
- Burning Bear Trail
- Hall Valley Trail
- Colorado Trail
- Vail Pass Tenmile Canyon National Recreation Trail
- Chalk Creek Trail
- Continental Divide National Scenic Trail
- Timberline Trail
- Taylor Pass Trail
- Brush Creek Trail
- Crystal River Trail
- Braderick Creek Trail
- Lake Ridge Lakes Trail
- High Trail
- Sunlight-Powderhorn Snowmobile Trail
- Cedar Mesa Trail
- Crag Crest National Recreation Trail
- Kannah Creek Trail
- Old Spanish Trail
- Colorado Riverfront Trail
- Audubon Trail
- Liberty Cap Trail
- Black Ridge Trail
- Monument Canyon Trail
- Kokopelli’s Trail
- Pike NF
- Arapaho NF
- San Isabel NF
- Gunnison NF
- White River NF
- Grand Mesa NF
- John Martin State Park
- Lake Pueblo State Park
- Mueller State Park
- Garden of the Gods Park
- Roxborough State Park
- Chatfield State Park
- Bear Creek Lake Park
- Mount Falcon Park
- Pence and O’Fallon Park
- Elk Meadow Park
- Cripple Creek Parks and Recreation
- El Paso County Parks and Recreation
- City of Woodland Park – Parks and Recreation
Points of Interest
- Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site
- Pueblo Museum
- Colorado Territorial Prison Museum
- Royal Gorge
- Cripple Creek National Historic Area
- Pikes Peak Highway
- Manitou Springs
- Pikes Peak Cog Railway
- Barr National Recreation Trail
- Garden of the Gods
- US Olympic Headquarters & Training Center
- Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame/ American Cowboy Museum
- US Air Force Academy (Chapel under renovation – Reopens 2027)
- Overland Trail Museum
- Fort Vasquez State Museum
- Denver Museums (10)
- Red Rocks Amphitheater
- Georgetown National Historic District
- Georgetown Loop Historic Mining & Railroad Park
- Breckenridge National Historic District
- Camp Hale 10th Mountain Division Memorial
- Leadville National Historic District (highest city in the US 10,430)
- National Mining Hall of Fame
- Argentine Pass (highest point on the ADT)
- Mt. Elbert (highest mountain in Colorado & Continental Divide 14,433)
- Mt. Princeton Hot Springs
- Crested Butte National Historic District
- Marble Museum
- Redstone Mining Camp
- Grand Mesa
- Colorado National Monument
- McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area