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New trail takes hikers to top of Fishers Peak State Park outside Trinidad

Fishers Peak State Park
Posted at 12:26 PM, Nov 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-20 14:26:49-05

TRINIDAD, Colo. — The new Fishers Peak State Park in southern Colorado has now opened an eight-mile trail that takes hikers to the previously private summit of Fishers Peak.

The 9,633-peak provides a panoramic view of the City of Trinidad for those willing to climb the rugged and steep trail along the east side of the mountain.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis hiked to the summit on Sunday to celebrate the grand opening of the trail.

"The hike and views are even better than I expected at Fishers Peak," Polis said at the top.

Fishers Peak_Colorado Parks and Wildlife

The trail to the summit, which is 8 miles one way, will stay open through the winter until March 15, when the top three miles will close for the summer due to nesting raptors. That section will reopen on July 31. CPW said this closure will be annual.

Based on customer surveys, access to Fishers Peak was a high priority, CPW said.

CPW Director Jeff Davis said he was proud of the park and the new signature summit trail.

“Fishers Peak is an icon to anyone traveling north over Raton Pass into Colorado or exploring the southeast region of the state,” he said. “This trail is a major accomplishment, given the quick timeline and the challenging conditions faced by trail builders."

CPW Park Manager Crystal Dreiling said the hike is not for beginners.

"It’s a physical challenge and a moving experience when you consider this mountain was long a landmark for Native Americans and later guided pioneers along the historic Santa Fe trail," Dreiling said.

Gov. Polis announces new state park at Fishers Peak

The 30-square-mile property was purchased from a private ranch on Feb. 28, 2019 for approximately $25.45 million. In September of that year, Polis signed an executive order that paved the way for CPW to purchase the property from The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and designate it as Colorado's 42nd state park. That purchase was made on April 2, 2020, using recreation funding from Great Outdoors Colorado and CPW Habitat Stamp funds, plus more than $2 million that was contributed by TPL, TNC and the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation.

The property was officially named Fishers Peak State Park on July 16, 2020 and opened to the public that October.

Today, the park has a parking lot with space for about 92 vehicles, two vault toilets, five picnic tables in a scenic spot and a few trails, according to CPW. Many of the trails are open to both hikers and bikers, while others are hiker-only and one is biker-only.

State park at Fishers Peak

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Of the 19,200 acres within the park, only about 1,000 acres are currently open to the public. Once trail construction is completed, it will be the second-largest state park.

Fishers Peak helps connect grasslands in the east to the foothills and mountains in the west, and is an important corridor for Colorado wildlife. The park will provide a permanently preserved habitat for animals like elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, mountain lions, and black bears.

Dogs are not allowed here. A CPW annual or daily pass is required for all vehicles entering the park. Camping is not permitted, though campgrounds are in the master plan for a future project.

The below map shows the open trails prior to the Summit Trail opening, and does not include that trail. This story will be updated once new maps are available.

Fishers Peak State Park map November 2023