Trail to Summit of Fishers Peak State Park Opens

Description: Left to right: CPW Director Jeff Davis, Governor Jared Polis and DNR Director Dan Gibbs at the opening of the Fishers Peak Summit Trail.

Published: 11/20/2023
Byline: SECO News

Gov. Polis Opens Trail to Summit of Fishers Peak State Park

Trail will remain open until March 15 summer closure for raptor nesting

TRINIDAD - This Sunday, Gov. Jared Polis opened the new, much anticipated eight-mile trail to the 9,633-foot summit of Fishers Peak State Park, inviting all who have long desired to hike up the flat-topped mountain.

“The hike and views are even better than I expected at Fishers Peak,” Governor Polis said as he surveyed the panoramic views available from the rugged and steep trail that climbs from the Fishers Peak Trailhead up the east side to the mountain that was formed when horizontal lava flows more than one million years ago solidified into basalt and cut a ribbon at the summit to commemorate the official opening of the Fishers Peak Summit to the public. 

Governor Polis, DNR Director Dan Gibbs, CPW Director Jeff Davis and CPW staff open Fishers Peak Summit trail.

“It’s a challenging and beautiful trail and I encourage Coloradans to come to Trinidad and enjoy our new world-class state park,” Gov. Polis said. “I applaud Colorado Parks and Wildlife for making this happen so soon. Expanding access to the outdoors through our amazing state parks was a promise I made when I became governor. Fishers Peak State Park is proof of our commitment. Just as Fishers Peak was a beacon for our ancestors, this world-class park and trail to the summit will attract recreationists, and visitors and provide a fantastic experience for many Coloradans.” 

The trail will be open all winter until the upper 3-mile section closes on March 15 to protect a cliffside area where falcons nest and breed. This upper section of the trail will be closed until July 31 when the ½-mile buffer restriction is lifted. This will be an annual seasonal closure. 

When the Governor opened the park, Polis made it a priority for CPW to expedite guest access to the 19,200-acre park. Immediately, the agency went to work building a parking lot with space for about 92 vehicles, two vault toilets, five picnic tables in a scenic spot and three short trails.

A year ago, CPW opened 11 miles of additional trails for hikers and mountain bikers, quadrupling the acreage accessible in the park. Those trails feature hiking-only options, a trail dedicated to mountain bike downhill riders only and trails shared by both users, called multi-use trails. 

Some offer views of Fishers Peak and across the Purgatoire River valley to Trinidad Lake State Park and beyond. But customer surveys sent a clear message that a trail to the summit of Fishers Peak was a top priority.

CPW Director Jeff Davis said he was proud of the park and the new signature summit trail and agrees with the governor that it will be a popular addition to the outdoor amenities available in Colorado.

“Fishers Peak is an icon to anyone traveling north over Raton Pass into Colorado or exploring the southeast region of the state,” Director Davis said. “This trail is a major accomplishment, given the quick timeline and the challenging conditions faced by trailbuilders. I applaud CPW Park Manager Crystal Dreiling and the entire team that made this happen.”

Dreiling predicted the trail will not disappoint guests to Fishers Peak State Park. But she cautioned it is not for beginner hikers.

Fishers Peak State Park.

“Guests will find this hike truly a breathtaking experience,” Dreiling said. “The views at the top are fantastic in all directions. But it’s a challenge and at a 16-mile roundtrip, it’s a long day. Still I’m extremely excited to welcome guests to experience Fishers Peak in a way they’ve only imagined. 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.”

It will take CPW years to fully transform the former private ranch into a modern state park with full amenities such as a Visitor Center, campgrounds, equestrian facilities, road, electricity and other infrastructure.

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