Hiking in TellurideTelluride might be best known for its world-class skiing and festival season, but we want to let you in on a little secret. Some of the greatest treasures in the canyon are only accessible by lacing up a pair of shoes and climbing high into the alpine forest. Hidden waterfalls, stunning vistas, and deteriorating mining structures liter the mountain slopes surrounding Telluride. Summers are filled with the sweet fragrance of wildflowers, forests are carpeted in lush neon moss and rushing mountain streams sing over rocks and fallen wood - magic is everywhere.
Wandering through the woods and ascending high mountain peaks is a favorite pastime of many Telluride locals. If you are looking for a fresh perspective from a different altitude, head to the hills and uncover some of our favorite local hikes.
Ajax Peak: Telluride’s most iconic peak, Ajax crowns the end of the canyon. Start your climb by parking near the power station at the top of Bridal Veil and hiking up Black Bear Pass. Once you arrive in the valley above, keep an eye out for the trailhead between the second and third suspended mining cables above. The climb is steep but switchbacked, and the view from the top is more than enough of a reward for the hard work.
Ballard Peak: Another one of the surrounding peaks that rises above Bear Creek Falls, Ballard provides a bit more of a challenge clocking in at 8 miles and with almost 4,700 feet of elevation gain. Start out heading towards Bear Creek Falls, and after about a mile, the Ballard trailhead will be on your left. Begin the steep ascent on the switchbacks that flank the mountain carrying you past wildflowers and historic mining structures towards the peak.
Bear Creek Falls: One of the areas easier hikes, Bear Creek carries you through mixed aspen and pine forest between two mountains, Ballard on the left and the ski resort on the right, and ultimately leading to a gorgeous waterfall at the end of the canyon. This short jaunt is only about 2.5 miles with an elevation gain of around 1000 feet and offers up picturesque views of town and the opportunity to run into some local wildlife drinking from the stream that runs alongside the trail.
Jud Wiebe: A local’s favorite this 3.5 mile trail climbs high above town, and despite the steep grade, the views at the top make it totally worth it. If you aren’t acclimated, expect to spend at least a couple of hours on the trail, but even though you will work hard, being able to look down into the town of Telluride from high above (and reward yourself with a beer afterwards) is a reward in and of itself.
Sneffels High Line Trail: This classic loop hike, leaving right from town, features spectacular views, two beautiful alpine basins and pretty meadows with thigh-high fields of wildflowers. Be forewarned the trail is strenuous, covering 12.7 miles and climbing 3,380-ft. to its high point on a saddle below Mt. Emma (12,280-ft.). Don’t let the challenge deter you. Pick a beautiful day and get an early start so you can enjoy this premier hike at a leisurely pace.