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Elevate Your Hiking Game: The Top 8 Trails You Can’t Miss in Telluride

Elevate Your Hiking Game: The Top 8 Trails You Can’t Miss in Telluride

Do you want to take your hiking game to the next level? If so, Telluride has some hikes that you will want to put on your bucket list. These hikes are sure to be epic adventures you’ll never forget!

There’s something for everyone, from meandering paths through valleys to heart-pumping ascents. Your skill level or experience doesn’t matter; you can find a hikep in Telluride that will challenge you. Grab your hiking boots and a water bottle; we’re taking you on a walk through the San Juan Mountains. 

Here are eight hikes in Telluride you don’t want to miss! Let’s get started!

Telluride Colorado • Mountain Village

Where Is Telluride?

Telluride is a picturesque town sitting in the southwestern part of Colorado. The city is a part of the San Juan Mountains, also in the massive Rocky Mountain Range. Due to its unique position in a box canyon, it’s home to some incredible views and plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation.

The town sits approximately 8,750 feet above sea level. However, the surrounding San Juan Mountains have multiple peaks over 13,000 feet. The dramatic landscapes and alpine environment of Telluride are a hiker’s paradise.

Unfortunately, if you’re in Denver, you’ll have to drive southwest approximately 330 miles to reach Telluride. However, the San Juan Skyway is an epic driving experience you’ll never forget. The incredible views cause the miles to fly by as you’re hiking.

Is Telluride a Great Place to Hike?

When it comes to excellent hiking places, it doesn’t get much better than Telluride. The high-altitude setting offers nearly 100 hiking options spread across every age and skill level. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing stroll through the woods or the challenge of conquering a rugged peak, you’ll find it here.

The thick forests and wildflower-filled meadows make for spectacular photo opportunities. Additionally, Telluride is home to four nearby waterfalls. Come prepared with your phone charged and plenty of storage space. You will want to share pictures with your friends and family at the end of this adventure.

Pro Tip: Before you head out to the Telluride trails, make sure you have these 10 Hiking Essentials You Should Never Hit the Trail Without.

Downtown Telluride, Colorado
Outdoor enthusiasts will love hiking in Telluride, Colorado.

The Top 8 Trails You Can’t Miss in Telluride

If you’re heading to Telluride and looking for hikes, we have some excellent options. Here are the eight trails we think are worth experiencing while visiting the area. Let’s take a look!

1. Bear Creek Trail

Bear Creek Trail is an out-and-back trail just over 5 miles long. It’s a relatively easy hike, and the trailhead is close to downtown. If you want to fill a half day while visiting Telluride, this trail is an ideal option.

You travel through thick forests and gorgeous meadows as you follow Bear Creek. Due to the proximity to the creek, you can enjoy the sounds of flowing water for most of the hike. However, the hike’s highlight is the view of Bear Creek Falls. It’s the highlight and turn-around point on this breathtakingly beautiful hike.

2. Bridal Veil Falls Trail

Do you want to experience the tallest free-falling waterfall in Colorado? If so, you must conquer all four miles of the 365-foot Bridal Veil Falls Trail near Telluride. This is an out-and-back trail with an elevation gain of 1,200 feet. It has a moderate difficulty rating due to the steady incline. However, this is a well-maintained path providing some incredible views that are well worth the effort.

The trailhead for Bridal Veil Falls Trail is east of downtown Telluride. As you leave the trailhead and head toward the falls, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife like marmots, deer, and various bird species. 

Once you reach the falls, look up and spot the remains of Bridal Veil Powerhouse, which workers built in 1907 and is still in operation. Then, look out over the view of the canyon and town. You can experience the area’s rich history and natural beauty in one adventure.

New hiker on trail
Telluride, Colorado has trails for leisurely hikers and avid mountain climbers.

3. Jud Wiebe Memorial Trail

Another moderately-challenging Telluride hike is the roughly 3-mile loop hikers call Jud Wiebe Memorial Trail. With an approximately 1,200 feet elevation gain, it’s not the most accessible trail in the area. A series of switchbacks and steep sections will get your heart pumping.

One of the best times to hike this trail is during the fall. The trees turn a stunning golden color, creating a backdrop out of this world. This is a trendy trail for visitors and locals, so don’t expect to be hiking alone.

4. Blue Lakes Trail

If you’re up for more of a challenge, try Blue Lakes Trail. This 8.6-mile out-and-back trail has an impressive 2,400 elevation gain. With such a long distance and rise in elevation, it’s not a hike for everyone. Unless you’re an experienced hiker, we strongly suggest you choose a less challenging hike.

Hikers on this trail travel through lush forests, meandering streams, and meadows of vibrant wildflowers. If that’s not enough, the most significant payoff is reaching the lower, middle, and upper Blue Lakes. The lakes get their names from the brightly colored turquoise water. The unique water color contrasts with the mountainous peaks surrounding it.

This challenging hike rewards hikers with one of the most famous 14,000+ mountains in the state; Mount Sneffels. When you combine the mountain views with the tremendous variety of vegetation, this is an unforgettable hiking adventure.

Pro Tip: Get a good night’s sleep at these 8 Best Campgrounds for an Amazing Telluride Camping Experience.

5. Hope Lake Trail

If any trail combines natural beauty, varied terrain, and striking mountain views, it’s Hope Lake Trail. Accessing the trailhead requires an approximately 40-minute drive to Trout Lake. However, this 5.5-mile out-and-back trail is worth it. The steady incline gives the course a 1,600 feet elevation gain, making it difficult.

Once you arrive at Hope Lake, you’ll experience a crystal-clear lake with a spectacular backdrop of rugged mountains. It’s the iconic Colorado view that many aspire to experience. The picture is worth every ache and pain you may acquire.

Snowy view of Telluride
Swap out your hiking boots for some skis during the winter months in Telluride.

6. Sneffels Highline Trail

Sneffels Highline Trail is the most challenging trail on our list of Telluride hikes. This roughly 13-mile out-and-back trail has a massive elevation gain of approximately 4,300 feet. This isn’t a hike for you unless you’re an experienced hiker in peak physical condition. 

This well-marked trail starts near downtown Telluride and takes you above the treeline. You’ll get an incredible view of the more than 14,000-foot Mount Sneffels. Keep your eyes out for elk, deer, and marmots that frequent the area along the trail.

With such a long distance and massive elevation gain, you’ll want to dedicate seven to ten hours to complete this hike. However, if you enjoy a slower pace, you may want to make it an overnight trip. Make sure you plan your parking accordingly, as parking near the trailhead has a two-hour limit.

7. See Forever Trail

As its name indicates, the See Forever Trail provides incredible panoramic views. This approximately 6-mile trail has a roughly 1,600 feet elevation gain with a moderate difficulty rating.

Accessing the trail requires taking the free San Sophia Gondola. Once you reach the trail’s end, you can turn around or connect with the Wasatch or Bear Creek Trails. The course starts at approximately 10,500 feet elevation and reaches 12,200 feet at the summit of Gold Hill.

Since the trail starts at a higher elevation, it’s crucial to consider the weather. The weather conditions can change quickly. It would be best if you prepared for changes in temperatures and precipitation.

8. Telluride River Trail

If you’re looking for a more relaxing out-and-back trail, the approximately 4-mile Telluride River Trail is a popular option. With an elevation gain of only 240 feet, the track is popular with hikers, runners, and families.

You can access the trail by hopping on the trailhead near the end of Pine Street. You’ll find a small parking area open year-round. However, the course can be slick during winter. If you plan accordingly, this is an opportunity to experience the natural beauty of the area’s mountains and forests.

Man on mountain trail
The San Juan Mountains make for the ultimate scenic trail experience.

What is the Best Month to Visit Telluride?

The best time to visit Telluride will depend on how you want to spend your time. Telluride is an excellent area for hitting the slopes. The ski season runs from late November through early April. If you want to avoid crowds, plan to visit during January or February.

On the other hand, if you want to enjoy hiking, mountain biking, or spending time outside, summer is the best time to visit Telluride. The weather is sunny and warm, which can be perfect for exploring the area. You may even cool off during a challenging hike by dipping in a lake or stream.

Lastly, you can’t overlook visiting this area during the fall. The leaves tend to change between September and October, with the peak occurring mid-September. This transforms the landscapes into various vibrant colors, enhancing the already incredible views.

Pro Tip: You’ll love spending the night at one of these 7 Best Campsites for Boondocking in Colorado.

Are Telluride Hikes Dangerous?

No matter where you hike, there is always a certain amount of danger, especially if you set out unprepared. The trails in Telluride can expose you to rough terrain, dehydration from the higher altitudes, and potentially dangerous wildlife. It doesn’t take much to lose your balance and tumble to the ground, especially if you’re not wearing the correct footwear. So ensure you plan accordingly and have quality hiking boots or shoes up for the task. Trust us; leave the sandals at home!

Hiking and participating in physical activities at higher altitudes can cause you to become dehydrated. Bring plenty of water for you and anyone adventuring with you. It may be worth investing in a backpack with a water bladder, so you have plenty of water.

Unfortunately, there is also potentially dangerous wildlife roaming through the wilderness in Telluride. There are bears and mountain lions that frequent the area. If you are venturing into the wild, you must carry bear spray and know how to use it. You don’t want to try to figure it out during a tense encounter with a bear or mountain lion.


Is Hiking in Telluride Worth It?

Telluride has a reputation for stunning beauty and scenic trails. If you enjoy spending time outdoors, Telluride is worth it. However, there are some potential dangers that you should be aware of, especially wildlife and weather conditions. You can’t take these hikes lightly, and you should do your homework to ensure you’re not biting off more than you can chew when picking a hike.

Which of the Telluride hikes would you like to try first?

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Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
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