There is a special aura about Southwest Colorado. The region has an astounding array of geologic formations, including hot springs, Anasazi cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde, the highest mountain top mesa in the world at Grand Mesa, the majestic Black Canyon of the Gunnison River and most of the highest peaks on the northern continent situated in its five national parks and five wilderness areas. It has more Victorian buildings, mining history, ghost towns, wild flowers, magnificent aspen forests, picturesque auto tours and 4-wheel drive high mountain exploration roads than any other geographic area in the north continent, and perhaps all the world. This is of course not to mention some of the Colorado’s best snow skiing. Along with all of this is some of the most memorable high country hiking imaginable. We have chosen three historic Victorian towns as the hubs for 60 scenic trails: Ouray, Silverton and Crested Butte. We include early season trails that have lower elevations, but most of the hikes are above timberline with trailheads starting over 9,000 feet and climbing to over 13,000 feet. Hiking above timberline is extremely gratifying; it evokes a sense of grandeur not found in the forests or lower elevations. Numerous hikes follow parts of the spectacular Continental Divide Trail and the Colorado Trail. Many hikes are cross country following intermittent animal and old pack trails. We did not seek out the highest peaks as they are covered sufficiently in other books. We did, however, include some of the easier peaks to introduce this type of environment to some that might not otherwise experience the opportunity. This is Colorado high country hiking at its best.