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Top Hikes Out the Backdoor

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Trails in the mountains surrounding Telluride and Mountain Village offer hikers everything from a quick jaunt to a waterfall to a day-long high-altitude adventure complete with mining ruins, high-alpine meadows strewn with wildflowers and the stunning scenery of the San Juans. Both Telluride and Mountain Village have trails that start right in town. Here are our favorites, right outside your backdoor.

Bear Creek Canyon: The spectacular Upper Bear Creek Falls awaits at the top end of this gorgeous hike which crosses quiet forests and sunny meadows. The 4-mile-roundtrip trail begins at South Pine Street where it enters the Bear Creek Preserve. With Bear Creek rushing below and to the left and peaks towering dramatically above, hikers follow this two track for an elevation gain of about 1,050 feet to the falls, just beyond the big boulder at canyon’s end. Walk off the main trail to the right of the boulder and look for a pool below the falls, a perfect spot for a picnic or snack before heading back to town.

The River Trail to the Valley Floor:This very mellow, mostly flat single trail can be picked up anywhere in town beside the San Miguel River. Head west to the Valley Floor Trail for a longer walk, or east to connect with the Idarado Legacy Trail, which ticks uphill slightly and offers interpretive signs that tell the tale of Telluride’s mining days. The trail finishes up at the end of the box canyon with Ajax and Telluride peaks soaring high above. Here there are views of Bridal Veil Falls, the tallest in Colorado at 365 feet, and of the Pandora Mill Building, another legacy from the days when miners, not hikers and bikers, roamed the land.

Sheridan Crosscut: A walking history lesson, this five-mile hike has a lung-busting elevation gain of about 3,000 feet and brings the adventurous – and fit – up to the Sheridan Crosscut Mine with relics from this bygone era when Telluride had more millionaires than any city on earth. The history class is punctuated by ridiculously beautiful view points across high-altitude basins to the surrounding peaks as well as across the Telluride valley. This strenuous hike can be done as an out and back or a loop back to town via Liberty Bell Basin. The trail becomes faint in places so using a guide book or map is necessary.

The Village Trail in Mountain Village: This 3-mile intermediate option brings hikers onto the ski resort and offers stunning views of the Wilsons. Head west out of the Village Core on the Boulevard Trail, eventually turning left onto the Village Trail, which is marked. Hike up on ski runs cloaked in summertime green to the bottom of Lift 5 before turning sharply and traversing the ski area under Lift 4 to the Gondola’s Station St. Sophia. Here you can opt to go higher still via See Forever, or use Telluride Trail to head down – steeply at times – to the town of Telluride. Or, you can hop on the Gondola for a unique way to finish the day’s activity.




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