The Best Durango Hikes

The Best Durango Hikes

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By the CMC San Juan Group, with Jeff Eisele

  • A wide variety of hikes from easy to difficult
  • Color photos and maps of all the routes
  • Includes comments on the hike, directions to the trailhead and trail route descriptions

Surrounded by mountains in southwestern Colorado, Durango is the perfect High Country town with a ski area up the road, the Indian mesa country an hour away, and a gold-medal trout stream running right through downtown. But that doesn't say anything about the fabulous hiking around Durango that includes the widest variety of hiking terrain found anywhere in Colorado—from high desert loops, to easy town hikes, to peak bagging in the San Juan Mountains.

The difficulty levels of the hikes range from easy walks—including the handicap-accessible Big Al Trail—to challenging ascents of such notable summits as Engineer and Hesperus mountains. The Animas Mountain and Smelter Mountain trails begin right in town and lead to bird’s-eye views of Durango, the Animas Valley, and the mountain ranges beyond.

Other hikes take you into the La Plata Mountains west of town and the San Juan Mountains to the north. These include a trek on the southern terminus of The Colorado Trail, as well as hikes to spectacular high mountain basins surrounded by soaring 13,000-foot peaks, such as Crater, Ice and Columbine lakes.

Some of the trails—notably Tomahawk Basin—take you past the ruins of mining operations dating to the 1800s. The Sand Canyon Loop passes dozens of Anasazi cliff dwellings.

The Best Durango & Silverton Hikes is all you need (plus the 10 Essentials) to hike around one of the great mountain towns of Colorado.