Visiting Durango

Durango Hiking guide

A guide to local area trails

Durango has many beautiful hiking trails for all skill levels.

Durango is filled with many beautiful hiking trails for various skill levels. In this guide we have listed some of our best and most popular trails. Durango is filled with over 300 miles of trails, so this guide is only a small percentage of the trails we have in Durango. For more information on trails and hiking please visit the Durango Welcome Center, located at 802 Main Avenue in Downtown Durango.

All trails in Durango are multiuse. This means they are open to horses, hikers, runners and cyclists. Please be aware that everyone should yield to horses, and cyclists should yield to people on foot. Trails noted below with an * are very popular with mountain bikers. Be aware of afternoon thunderstorms that often come into our area during monsoon season in July and August. Packing rain gear, plus extra water and snacks, is always advised. Helpful information from the Forest Service or should be reviewed before venturing out on the trails.

1. Animas River Trail - The Animas River Trail is a paved path that stretches over 8 miles through Durango. There are several locations to access the river along the ART. Easy access to the ART can be found at several locations, including Santa Rita Park where there is plenty of parking, as well as the Doubltree Hotel, Camino del Rio and 12th Street, and Rotary Park. In the North Main District, access the ART from Durango Recreation Center, or 22nd Street. The trail follows the river grade, so it is fairly level. The ART is well used by bikers, runners, and walkers year-round. 

2. Animas Overlook Trail - This is an easy 0.6 mile trail that is wheelchair accessible. There are signposts along the trail that provide information about the geological and ecological information. The hike leads out to the San Juan Mountain Overlook which provides a beautiful view of the Animas Valley. Directions: From Downtown Durango, head north on Main Avenue to 25th street. Turn left onto 25th street (also called Junction Creek or CR 204) go about 7 miles. You will pass both the Colorado Trail trailhead as well as Junction Creek Campground.

3. Colorado Trail at Junction Creek* - The Colorado Trail trailhead is located 3.5 miles up 25th Street, which turns into Junction Creek Road. The trailhead is on the left with parking and restrooms. Parking can be limited, especially on the weekend. There is a second parking area, 1 mile up from the trailhead.  The first mile of the trail is right along Junction creek. The second mile starts gaining elevation. For the third mile, you will start going back down to the creek and cross the bridge. After the bridge the trail switchbacks up to Gudi's Rest. At Gudi's Rest, you will have beautiful views of the La Plata Mountains. It is approximately 3.5 miles to Gudi's Rest (one way) The entire Colorado Trail is 486 miles from Durango to Denver. 

4. Horse Gulch* - The trailhead is located on East 8th Avenue and 3rd Street, near Sonic. The trail system is extremely well marked and also leads into the Telegraph Trail System, Grandview and Raider Ridge. The mountain bike trails are easy to moderate. 

5. Lion's Den Trail - This trail can be accessed on the northeast side of Chapman Hill. It follows the power line road for a mile and then has switchbacks up to the Lion's Den at the top. On the way up there is a fork in the trail (look for the metal bench). To get to the Lion's Den, go left at the fork. If you go straight, you will go to the college. Lion's Den is located right across the street from Hillcrest Golf Course. Don't forget your camera! There is a great view of Durango from the top! To access this trail, head north on Main Avenue and turn right onto 15th Street. Travel 0.5 miles on 15th Street, also known as Florida Road. Park at Chapman Hill.


7. Twin Buttes *- Twin Buttes offers a variety of multi-use trails. This is located just west of Downtown Durango. The trails offer moderate steady climbs with classic single track. This is a popular mountain bike location. Located off Highway 160, there is a dirt parking lot near the gas station on the north side of the road. This is where you will find the main (east) trailhead.

6. Smelter Mountain Trail -This is a popular day hike in Durango that offers scenic view of the Animas Valley and Downtown. This is an advanced hike that is about 1 mile from the parking area, and is a steep steady climb of 1,000 feet. This trail is not open to mountain bikers. Note that the trail is closed for seasonal wildlife from December 1- April 15. Trail is located off of South Camino del Rio and CR 210. From Downtown, take Camino Del Rio south and continue onto Highway 160. After you pass Santa Rita Park, take the next right at the light onto the frontage road, then quickly turn right onto CR 210. Look for Smelter Place on the right. There is a dirt parking lot on the left side at the trail head. 

8. Centennial Nature Trail/Sky Steps - This is a mile long hike that connects Fort Lewis College and Downtown Durango. The trail begins at East 10th Street and 6th Avenue. The trail has multiple switchbacks as it ascends 300 feet to the college near the chapel, .and has 500 steps. At the top you will see great views of Downtown. From this trail you can connect with other trails around Fort Lewis College

9. Cascade Creek Trail - An 8-mile moderately difficult hike or bike ride. The trail is located North of Durango on Highway 550 past Purgatory Resort toward Silverton. 28.5 miles from Durango, there is a hairpin turn to the right at Cascade Creek. Turn left across the road at this turn onto Forest Service Road 783. Follow FS 783 for approximately 3/4 mile to a small parking area on the left. From here, the trail continues on the road over the bridge and quickly becomes single track. Make sure you have plenty of water, warm layers, and rain gear.

10. Spud Lake (Potato Lake) Trail - This trail is accessed off Old Lime Creek Road. After passing Purgatory Ski Area, and reach the first hairpin turn, you will turn right onto the dirt road. The trailhead is 3 miles from the highway. Although it is not a 4-wheel drive road, it does require a high clearance car. There are many difficult sections as you get closer to the trail head. There is a beaver pond to the right and the trailhead is on the left. Parking is limited. The trail is 1.1 mile hike to Spud Lake. This is a great hike for kids as there is a beautiful lake at the end.

11. Engineer Mountain Trail - Located 31 miles north of Durango. At the top of Molas Pass, there is a rest area on the right when headed north. Parking for this trailhead is on the left side of the highway off a dirt road. The trail is approximately 11 miles long and will intersect with Pass Creek trail at the top. The starting elevation 9,000 feet and ending elevation is 11,000 feet. 

Visit for a trail finder map. This gives you details about the trails, conditions, elevation and more.   

There are two great bookshops in Downtown that offer trail maps and books:  Maria's Bookshop at 960 Main Avenue and Yess the Bookhutch at 143 E. 9th Street. Visit a local bike shop for information on mountain bike trails: Mountain Bike Specialists at 949 Main Avenue, Pedal the Peaks at 598 Main Avenue, Second Avenue Sports at 640 E. 2nd Avenue or Purgatory Sports at 2615 Main Avenue in the North Main District for some information on our local trails. 

Printed hiking guides are available at the Durango Welcome Center at 802 Main Avenue. During the summer months, San Juan Mountain Association will have forest rangers in the Welcome Center. They will provide information on local trails, educate visitors of proper use of trails, information on restrictions, disperse camping options, hike maps and more.  Hours are Wed-Saturday 10-4pm.

Click Here to print this guide