What to do in Colorado State Forest

The ultimate in rugged Colorado wilderness, the Colorado State Forest offers visitors 71,000 acres of unaltered forest, jagged peaks and alpine lakes, a true backcountry hiking, camping or hunting experience. If you want to get away from the crowds and enjoy the unspoiled natural landscape Colorado is famous for, the Colorado State Forest is for you.

The State Forest lies on the eastern slope of the Medicine Bow Mountains and the northern tip of the Never Summer Mountains in North Park. Elevations in the forest begin at about 8,500 feet and reach 12,644 feet. An extensive trail system (110 miles) in the southern part of the forest that supports hiking, biking and horseback riding. The Never Summer Nordic Yurt System includes six yurts and one hut, open for winter and summer use.

This region supports a variety of hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, fishing and mountaineering opportunities. During the winter months cross-country and backcountry skiers can enjoy the pristine beauty of the State Forest. Mountain bikers and hikers in the summer and cross-country skiers and snowshoers in the winter make use of the Never Summer Yurt System. See the Never Summer Yurt Description under Colorado Hut Systems or contact Never Summer Yurts at (970) 482-9411.

The State Forest runs the length of the Medicine Bow Mountains western slope and part of the northern Never Summer Mountains. The forest is located in the eastern section of North Park with Highway 14 leading through the southern part of the forest. The town of Walden lies to the west of the State Forest along Highway 14. Fort Collins lies approximately 70 miles east of the region.

Like any other mountainous region in Colorado the State Forest has a relatively dry climate. Most of the precipitation in the region falls in the form of snow during the winter months. Due to the lack of moisture in the air the snow is very light and feathery. It makes for superb backcountry conditions. Winter temperatures can be severe, especially at night, dropping to negative 20 degrees. Temperatures during winter days usually reach 20-30 degrees and the sun feels warm as it reflects from the snow.

Summertime temperatures are usually very pleasant. Nights can be cold with possible lows slightly below freezing. Summer temperatures during the day reach into the mid 70s. Summer days usually bring thunderstorms during the afternoon. If you're hiking a peak or above timberline on any trail be sure to complete the exposed portion before noon. (These storms can be killers.)

Remember conditions can be extreme in any season. Always be prepared with rain gear, warm hats, gloves and clothing layers. Drinking enough water to prevent dehydration is very important. Mountain streams can harbor deadly microorganisms so purify any water you obtain from them.

2746 Jackson County Road 41
Walden, CO 80480

Phone: 970-723-8366

Fax: 970-723-4672

  • Colorado State Forest Travel Q&A