By Mike Rosso
The Rainbow Trail, which celebrates its 101st birthday this year, could well be seen as an allegory for the various uses and controversies surrounding Colorado forest lands over the past century.
At just over 101 miles long, it spans four counties – Saguache, Chaffee, Fremont and Custer – and ends at the Huerfano County border.
Along its length, outdoor enthusiasts can access numerous 14,000 foot peaks, including Kit Carson (14,165’) and Crestone Peak (14,294’), and over a dozen alpine lakes. The Trail has an average elevation of 9,000 feet and winds in and out of thick spruce forests and aspen groves, as well as high mountain meadows. What initially began as a foot and horseback trail is now accessible to mountain bikes, motorcycles and, for the entire stretch in Custer County, all-terrain vehicles.