Indian Peaks Traverse
Indian Peaks Traverse
Imagine a trail through the Indian Peaks connecting Boulder County and Grand County, winding from the foothills of the Front Range across the high peaks of Colorado and down to the beautiful valleys of Winter Park. Imagine a trail composed of great segments that are perfect for day hikers and riders of all kinds (equestrians and mountain bikers alike), with dispersed camping for users of the trail. Imagine a 60-mile continuous expanse of trail that endurance riders and runners can do in one long, blissful stretch.
Imagine the Indian Peaks Traverse (IPT)!
Day Trips and Long Distance Trips
Plan an out-and-back from either end of the IPT (or somewhere in between) and enjoy a backcountry adventure of any length. Front Rangers can even use the bus from Boulder to shuttle up to Nederland and ride, hike or run up to the Continental Divide and back down to Boulder! There’s something for everyone on the IPT.
Backpackers and Bike Packers!
Leave your home, walk or ride to the trailhead, and head off into the woods for a long-distance adventure. Take advantage of great dispersed camping along the way, and enjoy a quick stop in Nederland for a coffee or cold beer before dropping into Boulder or Winter Park. Or vice versa, of course!
Endurance Riders, Equestrians, and Trail Runners
A phenomenal point to point, the IPT will be roughly 60 miles of backcountry bliss. Bring your credit card, crash at a cush hotel (preferably with a hot tub!) in Boulder or Winter Park, and head back home the next day.
The Route – Now and in the Future
After Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) killed the Eldo-to-Walker trail connection, hopes of an east/west trail from Boulder into the mountains were dashed. The IPT will likely remain on Chapman Drive up Flagstaff Road to 68J for years to come, but there are still some section west of Gross Resevoir that have an opportunity for improvement.
The biggest missing connector now is the connection from the trail through Tolland Ranch to Jenny Creek road.
The vision of the Indian Peaks Traverse began with a committed group of outdoor enthusiasts in the Boulder area. While Boulder County has a wonderful collection of trail systems, there has long been a desire among passive recreationists to connect some of these great routes and provide for longer-distance adventures. Many of us have enjoyed iconic routes like the Colorado Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, the Kokopelli Trail, the John Muir Trail, and others, and we’ve dreamed of creating a similar experience in our own backyard. Thus, the vision of the Indian Peaks Traverse—an official route (mostly off-road) connecting the Front Range foothills to the high peaks of Grand County—was born.
The IPT itself is part of a greater vision. It’s an important piece of regional trail connectivity in the Front Range and has the potential to be a link in a vast trail system connecting communities far and wide. The eastern end of the IPT would connect to the proposed Rocky Mountain Greenway, which will ultimately connect Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Rocky Flats, and Rocky Mountain National Park. The IPT will also link to the Colorado Front Range Trail which will eventually connect New Mexico to Wyoming across 15 cities. And, of course, the IPT crosses and connects to the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail.
There are also many existing and proposed regional trails in Boulder County and Grand County that would allow a growing list of communities to access this regional trail network from their homes. Together, these trails could form an amazing loop from Denver to Estes Park, Grand Lake, Winter Park, Boulder and back to Denver. It’s a far-reaching vision for sure, but it’s an exciting one—and the IPT is a critical piece of the puzzle.
There’s long been a contingent of hardy souls who trail run or mountain bike over the Continental Divide from Boulder to Winter Park (and back). The adventurous route is amazing and challenging, but it’s also riddled with access issues and informal trail connections that make for difficult route finding.
A cadre of committed adventurers began to work with the four agencies that manage the land surrounding the IPT—Boulder County Parks and Open Space Department (BCPOS), Boulder Ranger District (BRD) of the United States Forest Service, City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks Department (OSMP), and Eldorado Canyon State Park—in order to improve the route and the experience. Over the course of more than a decade, the grassroots movement behind the IPT has advocated for the planning and building of trail segments that will contribute to the proposed IPT.
As a result of consistent engagement in the public process, almost all of the pieces necessary to build the IPT are in planning or in place. Once the USFS finishes an alignment to connect the core West Magnolia Trails with the Toll property, we will have a world class recreational trail that provides a long-distance, multi-use experience from Boulder County to Grand County—with regional connectivity beyond.
Additional IPT News
Boulder County Parks & Open Space’s Justin Atherton-Wood gave a presentation at the June 24 POSAC Meeting on the new Toll Trail that will connect West Mag to Jenny Creek.
Weigh in on the Eldorado Canyon State Park Master Plan by May 25
While BMA is disappointed with CPW’s decision, we are more concerned that a robust, transparent public process was not followed to reach this ruling.