The best hiking trails in Telluride
Explore picturesque areas and take in awe-inspiring views of Telluride’s natural surroundings through its outstanding hiking trails. Tucked away in Colorado’s rugged San Juan Mountains, this scenic mountain town offers a wide range of hiking trails for all skill levels. These trails also provide stunning views of mountains, lakes, waterfalls, canyons, and much more. Hiking in Telluride also gives visitors a chance to see wildlife up close.
With so much variety to choose from, deciding which trails to explore can be tough. The following curated list of the best hiking trails in Telluride can help ensure that hikers experience unforgettable outdoor adventures.
What makes Bridal Veil Falls’ Trail one of the top Telluride hiking trails? This trail offers amazing views of Bridal Veil Falls, the tallest free-falling waterfall in the state. Water flows from a height of 365 feet into a basin below. Bridal Veil Falls’ Trail provides a way to hike to the bottom of the waterfall for majestic views.
To reach the trail, walk from the Idarado Parking Lot to a large rock on the right side of the road. Bridal Veil Falls’ Trail begins next to the rock and continues for 1.2 miles to the base of the falls. Note that this trail is meant for more advanced hikers due to uneven ground, rough terrain, and a challenging water crossing. The water crossing can be hazardous to attempt in spring and early summer, making mid to late summer and fall a better time to hike here.
While hiking on the Bridal Veil Falls’ Trail, enjoy the surrounding scenery, which includes plenty of lush vegetation, rugged canyon walls, and the impressive waterfall. The trail also leads to other areas to explore. Roughly 3/4 of the way along the trail, there’s a spur that goes to Bridal Veil Road. Another spur in this area leads to a swimming hole and waterfall.
Bear Creek Trail provides a great way to enjoy Bear Creek Preserve’s beautiful sights, including Bear Creek Falls, pine groves, and aspen groves. The trail is also easily accessible from downtown Telluride. As one of the busiest hiking trails in Telluride, expect to encounter plenty of fellow hikers along the way, as well as people on horseback.
The trailhead is located at South Pine Street in the downtown area and winds through the preserve for around 2.3 miles. This is a moderately challenging trail that reaches an elevation of 1,050 feet and takes about 2 1/2 hours to complete round trip. Hikers can also climb for about 2 miles to reach Upper Bear Creek Falls, which takes roughly an hour. From there, hikers can access Wasatch Trail and hike to the Bridal Veil Basin.
Bear Creek Trail wanders through meadows filled with wildflowers, groves of pine and aspen trees, and other scenic settings. The trail also provides panoramic mountain views. Hikers have a good chance of seeing several wildlife species along the trail, including mule deer and various birds. Bear Creek Trail is open all year round, although wintry conditions can make hiking more difficult.
Blue Lake Trail offers spectacular alpine vistas, wildflowers, and other picturesque sights. This is an intermediate-level hike that starts from the top of Bridal Veil Falls. Hikers can take advantage of the trail’s access to campsites and other overnight accommodations to enjoy a longer stay. Dispersed campsites are available throughout the area. Cabins and other lodgings are a few miles away along Million Dollar Highway.
Hikers can park at the top of the falls area, then walk along the road toward Bridal Veil Basin and hike on the trail for a round-trip total of 5.7 miles. This takes roughly 3 1/2 to 4 hours to complete. The trail reaches an elevation of 1,843 feet and provides stunning views of Blue Lake and the surrounding area above the tree line.
While hiking on the trail, hikers walk through varying terrain, including pine forests, rocky slopes, and open meadows with colorful wildflowers. The lake is tucked away in a bowl-shaped glacier depression or cirque with steep, rugged peaks around it. The lake’s clear, blue waters provide beautiful views that make this trail well worth the long hike. Summer and early fall when wildflowers are in full bloom are the best times to hike along Blue Lake Trail.
Sneffels Highline Trail is one of the best day hikes in Telluride. However, it’s not for beginners. This trail is a challenging hike that’s meant for experienced adventurers. Sneffels Highline Trail reaches way up into the Mount Sneffels Wilderness area with an elevation gain of 4,356 feet. At the top, hikers are rewarded with views of the surrounding area above the timberline.
To reach Sneffels Highline Trail from the east, hikers can start from the Jud Wiebe trailhead on Aspen Street. Mill Creek Road offers access to the trail from the western side. Sneffels Highline Trail stretches up to 8.5 miles and takes several hours to complete. Due to the terrain, no bikes are allowed on the trail. Hikers might come across people on horseback, along with other hikers.
Sneffels Highline Trail winds through areas filled with streams, rugged peaks, and high alpine meadows. Hikers can enjoy views of Mount Sneffels and keep an eye out for cabin ruins along the way. Since this is a challenging trail, hikers should always check the forecast before setting out. During summer, early morning starts are recommended in order to avoid afternoon thunderstorms in the high country.
Jud Wiebe Trail offers moderate-level hiking near Telluride with incredible views of wildflowers, forests, and other features. Since this trail is a local gem, hikers can expect to encounter other hikers, as well as people on mountain bikes and horseback. The trail is fairly short, making it ideal for a quick hike in the area rather than an all-day hike.
Jud Wiebe Trail is roughly 3 miles round trip and has an elevation gain of 1,213 feet. Hikers usually take just over 2 hours to complete the loop. Access to the trail can be found on Aspen Street and Tomboy Road. The Aspen Street trailhead offers a more moderate hike compared to the Tomboy Road trailhead. The trail is open year round, but icy or snowy conditions can make it dangerous to hike during winter. Keep in mind that snow and ice can linger in sheltered areas of the trail into early spring. Late spring through fall are generally the best times to hike on Jud Wiebe Trail.
During hikes on this trail, hikers can enjoy panoramic views of Telluride and the surrounding mountain peaks. Other sections of the trail wander through forests, woodlands, and wildflower-filled meadows.
As one of the most challenging Telluride hiking trails, Black Bear Pass is suitable for expert hikers. This difficult trail is used for hiking, mountain biking, and off-roading, so expect to see 4x4s from time to time. Black Bear Pass is an exhilarating hike with varied terrain, awe-inspiring views of the surrounding San Juan Mountains and other natural features.
To reach this trail, head to Black Bear Road at Red Mountain Pass on U.S. Highway 550. From the trailhead, enjoy sweeping views of the area from a height of 12,840 feet. The trail includes several switchbacks, narrow passes, steep ascents, and rugged terrain. The switchback section is considered the most challenging area, but it also offers views of Bridal Veil Falls. Hikers should plan in advance to ensure that they have a safe hike through this area.
Black Bear Pass provides dramatic views of alpine lakes, valleys, the San Juan Mountains, and other natural features. Hikers should note that the pass is only open for a limited amount of time each year. It’s generally open from mid-July through early fall, depending on weather conditions. Icy and snowy conditions during the rest of the year can cause landslides and avalanches to occur. The pass restricts vehicles to those with high clearance only due to the switchbacks and other difficult terrain.
Individual hiking trail maps and maps that include all or most hiking trails in Telluride are available. General area maps can help hikers plan multiple hikes, while individual trail maps are useful for single-day hikes.
From gently sloping trails for beginners to challenging trails for experts, Telluride hiking trails offer something for everyone. Breathtaking views of lakes, mountains, and other natural surroundings, along with wildlife encounters, make hiking near Telluride a truly memorable experience.
Keep in mind that it’s important to be prepared, even for expert hikers. This means having the proper gear for hiking, keeping a safe distance from wildlife, and observing trail etiquette. Visitors should also respect the environment and check the weather conditions before setting out.
With the best Telluride hiking trails in mind, grab a map, and embark on your own hiking adventures. Surround yourself with impressive mountain and forest landscapes while exploring the area’s hiking trails, and enjoy the many outdoor recreational opportunities that are available in this scenic region.