Surrounded on all sides by 13,000 and 14,000-foot cliffs, if Telluride isn’t the first town that pops into your head when you think of a grand mountain getaway, it should be.
Telluride isn’t your everyday mountain town. Locals love it for its quaint, quiet, small-town vibes, while visitors appreciate its incredible alpine scenery, abundant wildlife, and incredibly accessible hiking trails. Truth be told, there’s a little bit of something for everyone in the town of Telluride. But if one thing is certain, it’s that you don’t need to go far to find adventure. We’ve put together five epic hiking trails that are just steps away from downtown.
Just five miles from downtown Telluride, the three Alta Lakes sit in a small basin between Silver Mountain and Bald Mountain at 11,868 feet. An area known for crystal-clear alpine lakes and panoramic views of surrounding mountain peaks, Alta Lakes should be on every visitor’s radar.
Accessible by high-clearance 4x4, most visitors to Telluride will travel to Alta Lakes by driving up the 5-mile Alta Lakes Road. However, this shouldn’t deter you from experiencing the Alta Lakes area by foot.
To reach the Alta Lakes, take the Boomerang Trail via the Prospect or Basin Trail and follow the Forest Service road for two miles to the top. Once you’re at the top, you’ll be rewarded with postcard worthy views in all directions.
If you only have an opportunity to experience one hike on your trip to Telluride and you’re up for a challenge, Sneffels Highline is the trail you won’t want to miss.
Beginning at the heart of downtown Telluride, this classic 12.7-mile loop trail features two incredible alpine basins, meadows thick with wildflowers, and traverses the high peaks of the San Miguel Mountains.
Known to be a part of Colorado’s most beautiful alpine country, the Sneffels Highline trail is one of few trails within the Mt. Sneffels Wilderness area. However, despite its remoteness, the trail is still remarkably well-maintained and marked, so you don’t have to worry about getting lost in the woods.
A true San Juan Stairmaster, the trail climbs 3,380-ft. to its highest point on the saddle below Mt. Emma, so you’ll want to get an early start, so you can hike at a relaxed pace and take in the views.
Bridal Veil Falls
You can’t visit Telluride without experiencing Colorado’s tallest free-falling waterfalls and iconic landmark, Bridal Veil Falls. At 365 feet, Bridal Veil Falls lures adventurers from all over the world and offers one of the most dynamic views of Ajax, Ingram, and Ballard Peaks.
The trailhead begins at 9,020-feet, so don’t be surprised if you’re huffing and puffing from the get-go. High altitude hiking can really take your breath away. As the trail continues for 2 miles up a steep dirt road, it weaves beneath colorful canyon walls and offers unparalleled views of Telluride valley.
If you’re feeling uber adventurous and have access to a 4x4 high-clearance vehicle, you can opt to drive the dirt road that leads to the top of Bridal Veil Falls. Just keep in mind, this road’s hairpin turns and steep cliff sides are not for the faint of heart.
Bear Creek Falls
Another local favorite, Bear Creek Falls is a 2.5-mile out and back trail that climbs through the dense forest and leads hikers to sweeping views of towering peaks that rise above the town of Telluride. At the end of this steep trek, hikers are rewarded with - you guessed it - an incredible set of waterfalls.
Access the trail from the end of South Pine Street and hike or bike your way to the awe-inspiring 325-acre Bear Creek Preserve. The hike is rated as easy to moderate, so if you haven’t had your fill of alpine adventure, you can explore further up the canyon on the Wasatch Trail.
Jud Wiebe Trail
Another local favorite, the Jud Wiebe Trail is a 3-mile loop trail that is considered one of the most accessible trails in town. Accessed by one of two trails along Aspen Street or Tomboy Road, the Jud Wiebe Trail gains approximately 1,200 feet in just over a mile - making this trek a quick, but steep adventure.
However, you shouldn’t let the ascent deter you, in as little as two hours, you can traverse brilliant wildflowers, lush fir and pine forest, roaring waterfalls, vast meadows and breathtaking views of towering mountain peaks.
To reward you at the top, there are benches scattered along the hillside to catch your breath and take in the views. If you’re feeling rested, follow the trail to the right of the creek for a quarter-mile and check out Cornet Creek Falls.
Are you ready to hit the trail yet? Telluride offers a variety of camping options, in addition to luxurious resorts and accommodations. After you spend some time breathing in fresh alpine air, drop into town and hang with the locals, drive along the scenic San Juan Skyway or take a trip on the free gondola for sunset views you don’t have to work for. Regardless of what you decide to do, you’ll be grateful that Telluride made it on your bucket list.