Sleep In The Dirt

Section 8:

Twin Lakes to Tennessee Pass

What We Found

The content below contains general information about Big Agnes staff experience while traveling along the CDT through Colorado in the summer of 2018. While we have made an effort to provide you with a valuable trip-planning tool, we cannot offer any assurance that this information is current, complete or even accurate – if you choose to travel this route, do so at your own risk. One of the most traveled sections of the Collegiate Peaks and Colorado Trail for good reason. Mellow, shaded trails will take you to Turquoise lake or to Mt. Elbert and Mt. Massive to summit a 14er (or two).

  • distance
    34 miles
  • elevation gain
    7,208 feet
  • elevation loss
    6,102 feet
  • highest point
    11,719 feet
  • wilderness area
    yes
  • percent on trail
    100%

"The highlight of this section is that trail goes directly past the trailheads for both Mount Elbert (the tallest peak in the state at 14,439) and Mount Massive (the second highest at 14,421). We only hiked Mount Elbert, but it was definitely worth it! The best camping spot along this section was a couple of miles north of Bear Lake along the edges of a giant alpine meadow with near 360 degree views and a great spot to watch both the sunset and sunrise. This section of the CDT (which is also the Colorado Trail) is exceptionally well marked, has relatively gentle gradients, was generally well shaded, is full of great views and had abundant water sources (even in a drought year)." On Trail: July 15th - 20th, 2018

Jacob Allen, Repair Center Manager, Big Agnes
Learn more about the hike

Our Itinerary

Southern Access Point:

Twin Lakes (Where trail Crosses CO 82 at Northern tip of Twin Lakes) Ley Maps CO 22

Northern Access Point:

Tennessee Pass (CO Hwy 24) Ley Maps CO 20

Wilderness Area:
Yes

What We Experienced:

Great hiking and camping near Turquoise lake, and don’t forget your fishing pole and license if you want to test your fishing skills at the lake. If you plan on bagging a 14er while you’re there, make sure you get an early start and be prepared for fast-moving storms.

Additional Resources:

Leave No Trace Principles

Guthook Guide – Continental Divide Trail

U.S. Forest Service – Pike and San Isabel National Forest

U.S. Forest Service – Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest

 

Our Route

Ascent:
7,208 feet

Descent:
6,102 feet

Grade per Mile:
392 feet

Pro tips:

There’s a good amount of on-trail water sources, but check an app like Guthook to check availability in the warmer summer months.

Great fishing opportunities at Turquoise lake.

Be prepared for rocky climbs through loose scree and navigating downed trees.

Good rain gear and warm clothes are a must, and bring extra fuel if cooking more than twice a day due to the higher elevation.

 

Skills We Needed

• Rock Scrambling
• Lightning Safety
• Hike-a-bike (if bikepacking)
• LNT Ethics
• Mountain climbing (for those planning to summit a 14er)

* This site and routes described within contain general information about Big Agnes staff adventures in the backcountry, summer 2018. While we have made an effort to provide you with a valuable trip-planning tool, we cannot offer any assurance that this information is current, complete or even accurate – if you choose to travel these routes, do so at your own risk. Prior to setting out check local weather, trail conditions, closures, legal access points, Forest Service, BLM, or National Park rules and regulations, and other risks involved. We hope to inspire responsible backcountry and public land use, but by using our website you agree to use this information at your own risk.