Colorado Trail, Desert Southwest (CO,AZ,UT,NM), Trip Reports » First Overnight on the CT


After 10 years of mountain biking and almost 4 years living in Colorado going backpacking I stumbled upon this forum which gave me some great ideas on how to combine two of my favorite sports. So last Saturday June 5th I headed out for Littleton CO to Waterton Canyon to do an overnight on the Colorado Trail. I considered this trip a good training opportunity and also it gave me the chance to test out my gear. I plan on doing a longer 5-6 day CT trip later in the summer probably going from Kenosha Pass to Buena Vista or Salida.

My Packing List Included the following:
– In the Jaand Frame Bag – Small Metal Pot and Cup, food and coffee, MSR Waterfilter
– Yellow Granite Gear Stuff Sack  lashed to the bar w/ 2 straps – Sleeping Bag and Down Vest
– Camelback – Big Agnes sleeping pad, 1.5 liter bladder, small towel, Compass, Pencil wrapped w/ Duct Tape, Lighter, Chapstick, 2 gel Energy Packs, Rain Jacket, 1 tube, a few zip ties
– Topeak RX TrunkBag – MSR PocketRocket Stove and Fuel Canister, Bug Juice/Sunscreen, 550 Cord, Small First Aid Kit, Hand sanitizer, 10×8 Plastic Tarp for shelter and 4 stakes, Longsleeve HeatGear Shirt, Extra Pair Socks, Warm Hat, Leg Warmers, CT Data Book
– In the small underseat pack – Patch kit and SRAM powerlink, Multitool, Tire levers, 1 tube
– On my person – Sunglasses,Helmet, Bike Gloves, Riding clothing

Here’s a short synopsis of the trip:
I started around 4:30 on Saturday afternoon at the Waterton Canyon trailhead. Since it was a weekend there were the normal bikers, hikers and fishermen in the first 6 miles of trail that is really just a dirt road that parallels the river.

I stopped at the CT trailhead to snap a picture and then continued on the initial singletrack portion that climbs to Lenny’s rest.

I immediately noticed the added weight on the bike during the switchbacks and the front end felt much heavier when trying to lift the front wheel. I stopped for a short breather at Lenny’s Rest then continued on the trail. This was my first time past the bench and I enjoyed the downhill into the valley. For the rest of the evening I only saw 1 other biker and a few backpackers that were camping along the first section of trail. I rode about 12 miles and decided to stop when I saw the rain coming over the mountains.

My site was on top of a ridge overlooking the South Platte river below. That night it stormed on and off all night. The lightning was amazing but definitely made me think twice about being so high on the ridgeline.

In the morning everything was soaked including almost all my gear, the bike, and my sleeping bag. Luckily I stuffed almost all my clothing in the waterproof stuffsack. The views of the valley below were phenomenal and that made up for the lack of sleep I got during the night.

I hung out for an hour or so and the sun came out over the valley. It warmed up quickly and I was able to hang most of my stuff from the trees to dry out. I decided to continue on the CT for the 1500 foot drop down to the river to refill on water then I would turn around and retrace my path back to Waterton. The descent was amazing including switchbacks, rocks, roots and great views. At the bottom I ate some oatmeal and made coffee then started my climb. It took me about 3.5 hours on the return trip to the trailhead. Total mileage was roughly 34. All in all a good trip and excellent learning experience.

Some things to note and change:
I will probably buy a solo/lightweight one person tent as I wasn’t a big fan of sleeping under the tarp in the pouring rain
I’ll also pick up a small dropper tube and add some Prolink Gold lube and small rag to the packing list for the drivetrain.

The Topeak rack held up quite well. It was a model made for road bikes and not heavy duty but I had no issues with it
Also electrolyte drops or tabs would be good for the morning – I haven’t tried any yet so suggestions would be great
Any other help or advice would be appreciated.

Comments (7)

greg besawJune 13th, 2010 at 10:34 pm

I live in littleton and have done that same trip recently. It is hard to find people to do trips like this around here. Would like to hang out, thinking of doing a longer trip in july.

Dave BachJune 14th, 2010 at 5:15 pm

Get yourself one of these and you will never wake up cold or wet. Plus there is room too change
your clothes and also do some cooking with the mesh open inside. I have used there product for
years on big walls and big alpine routes in harsh conditions. Also make sure you have really good
rain gear. It will make a huge difference in how you deal with suffering.
Cheers Dave:)

Outsider/YetiJune 19th, 2010 at 3:11 am

The Bibler bivy does not seem to be that good an option nowadays, unless you camp in very exposed alpine locations where the stability is of outmost importance. A modern ultralight tarp tent would give more room for less weight, see

Dave BachJune 19th, 2010 at 9:04 am

I guess you have to try both out and decide for yourself. The Bibler is easy and fast to set up. Also requires no stakes or poles. But again this is just my two cents. The tarp tent does look nice for the right

frippheadJuly 2nd, 2010 at 5:46 pm

Thanks for commenting on the Topeak Rack. I picked one up with panniers for commuting and was curious how it would hold up on an adventure ride. Sounds like it performed well. You’re rack position is almost exactly like mine. Enjoyable account!

GrizzattackJuly 9th, 2010 at 4:20 pm

Big Agnes out of Steamboat is putting out some amazing award winning ultra light tents. The Fly Creek looks like a top pick.

djlarrocDecember 22nd, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Going to bump this old report, by saying I really liked the trip report. I am in Denver, and just starting to prepare for my first bikepacking trip hopefully this next summer.

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