Family-Friendly Hikes

Spud Lake, located north of Durango, is a favorite family hike.

Labor Day is just around the corner! Before school starts, here are few great family-friendly hikes to get in before or during Labor Day weekend. 

Remember to love the trails like a local by familiarizing yourself with our Durango Trail Love campaign before you head out!

For All Skill Levels:

Used as both a walking and biking path, the Animas River Trail is a hard surface path that runs alongside the Animas River where it cuts through the town of Durango. There are various points of access along the trail, with the north end of the trail beginning at the new Oxbow trailhead (39th and Main/550 north).

This is a perfect choice for an easy day stroll without a lot of elevation gain and is a popular spot for bikers, hikers, and fishermen.

  • Distance: 10 miles
  • Elevation Gain: minimal elevation gain/loss
  • Route type: Point to point
  • Rated as moderate

The Falls Creek Loop is a short, yet sweet trail located in the San Juan National Forest, just outside of Durango. An excellent choice for all skill levels, the route features colorful wildflowers in the summer, a waterfall, and forested landscapes of the San Juans.

  • Distance: 4.1 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 393 feet
  • Route type: Loop
  • Rated as easy

A trail the entire family can enjoy, Spud Lake Trail is an easy loop that reaches the trout-filled Spud Lake. Camping, fishing, and picnicking are popular activities to enjoy on the trail. Beaver ponds are found throughout with views of Potato Hill (Spud Mountain) visible from the trail. Take in the views of the Hermosa Cliffs, the Animas Valley, and West Needle Mountains upon reaching Spud Lake. This trail access point is found 29 miles north of Durango on U.S. Highway 550 to Forest Road 591.

  • Distance: 3.1 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 419 feet
  • Route type: Loop
  • Rated as easy

Found in the Perins Peak State Wildlife Area, Perins Peak trail is a great hike for all ages and offers stunning views and rock climbing opportunities for those who dare.

Perins Peak is a notable and distinctive natural landmark that towers over the town of Durango. Add on the North Perins Peak for a 10-mile hike and 2,300 feet in elevation gain.

Due to seasonal wildlife closures, the trail is only open from July 15 to November 15.

  • Distance: 5.9 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,561 feet
  • Route type: Out and back
  • Rated as moderate

For More Intermediate Skill Levels:

A hike most locals would recommend, the Smelter Mountain Trail is a short but steep trail that begins in town. Perfect for an early morning workout, or an early evening (during the summer) stretch, this trail provides little shade but offers big views. The end of the trail brings hikers to a magnificent vantage point that rises above the town of Durango.

  • Distance: 3.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,374 feet
  • Route type: Out and back
  • Rated as moderate

Animas Mountain Trail is a 6-mile loop offering a great view of the Hermosa Valley, the Animas River, and the San Juan Mountains. Not only does this moderate hiking trail provide beautiful views, but its convenient access from town makes this a popular day hike for visitors and locals alike.

There is a great deal of elevation gain and the descent is rocky and a bit unstable so be prepared for this hike with hiking poles, rain jacket and good shoes. 

  • Distance: 6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,519 feet
  • Route type: Loop
  • Rated as moderate

For a bit of a challenge and more remote trail system, check out the Goulding Creek Trail. This is a more intense hike on a steeper switchback. 

The rugged trail offers a chance to see waterfalls, open meadows, and views of the Hermosa Cliffs Roadless Area. In the fall the plentiful aspen groves light up the hike, making this particularly enjoyable in the fall season. The trail begins about 17 miles north of Durango from U.S. Highway 550.

  • Distance: 6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,100 feet
  • Route type: Out and back
  • Rated as moderate

Love the Trails Like a Local

Say Hi

Greet all trail users by saying hi when passing on the trail.

Announce Yourself

Say "on your left" as approaching other trail users from behind.

Pick Up After Yourself

Pick up after yourself and your pet. Please don’t litter.

Keep Dogs on a Leash

Keep your dogs on a leash or leave them at home. Off-leash dogs are not allowed on City Open Space and are the number one source of trail conflict.

Stay on the Trail

Help protect natural areas and habitats by staying on established trails. Creating "social trails", cutting switchbacks, or ignoring trail closures leads to greater erosion and impacts on ecosystems.

Give Uphill Traffic the
Right of Way

Uphill traffic always has the right of way. Downhill traffic must be in control, especially around blind corners, to avoid coming in contact with uphill traffic.

Check Conditions

Stay up to date by checking the Trail Conditions report and following us on Facebook or Instagram.

Give Back

Donate to Durango Trails or volunteer for trailwork to help give back to the trails you love.

Trail Etiquette: Muddy Trails

It’s that time of year, shoulder season, mud season but certainly not riding your mountain biking at lunch time season.

It’s best to avoid standing water and mud. Right now, the snow is melting on the south face, and still present on the north faces, making the space in between mud. 

Trails are very susceptive to damage during this current freeze/thaw process.

The soil displacement from riding, walking and running at this time carries the soil away. If the trail is 90% rideable, the 10% that is muddy can still ruin your derailleur or running shoes.

Technically, it’s best to turn around once you encounter muddy trails. If you need to ride, walk or run through mud to get back to dry dirt, run right through the puddles and mud thereby not causing damage to trailside vegetation or unnecessary trail widening.

Even if you find it rideable, it’s best to wait until things dry out. 

What can you do?

Read the Durango Trails Trail Conditions Report before heading out

Like the Durango Trails Facebook and Instagram pages for up to date trail beta

Join the Durango Trails Facebook Trail Conditions group

Ride Gravel

Explore the Animas River Trail 

Hike or run in the early morning (before 9:30 am) or late afternoon (after 5:00 pm) – muddy areas are more likely to be harder (colder air temps) and less messy since harder soils are much less likely to erode. 

When possible, stick to south-facing trails, which tend to be drier – the drier the trail, the less damage done – if any

Donate to Durango Trails to help support our ongoing trail maintenance efforts

For more information:

Welcome to Durango’s Trails: Tips for Visitors

Welcome to Durango’s trails! Whether you are visiting our area or are simply a new local trail user, we hope you enjoy your time on the trails.

Here in Durango, we believe that trails are the gateway to the outdoors, leading us to amazing outdoor adventures and connecting our community in more ways than one.

Things to know before you hit the trails

Our trail network is divided into four regions (see below for recommended trails in each region):

  • Urban Interface or In-Town trails, known as “Lunch Rides,” are trails that are easily accessed from town, and generally require only an hour or two to complete

  • Mid-Country Trails, or “Mini Adventures,” allow you to experience a half day ride, hike or run in the mid country areas surrounding Durango

  • High Country Trails, or what we like to call the “Hall Pass,” are full day adventures [to explore Molas Pass, Coal Bank and Silverton Area Trails]
  • Regional Trails are those located in the Surrounding Areas of Mancos, Cortez, Moab, Rico, and Telluride usually within a short 2.5 hour drive [like Phils World, Mancos, Cortez, Rico, and Moab area trails]

Our trails are primarily two way; uphill traffic has the right of way. When it comes to mixed-use trails, remember that bikes yield to hikers and horseback riders, and hikers yield to horseback riders.

We are proud of our share the trails ethics. Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with proper trail etiquette so that all users can have an enjoyable experience. Remember to say hello when greeted by other trail users!

Be sure to educate yourself on current COVID-19 guidelines as well as all active fire restrictions before setting out.

Welcome to Durango; we look forward to seeing you on the trails! 

Durango Trails is Durango, Colorado’s local non profit trails organization, connecting you to the outdoors. We plan, build and maintain trails; educate trail users; and encourage connectivity on the road, path and trail. If you’ve enjoyed our trails, we encourage you to please consider donating to Durango Trails so we continue our hard work! We also have awesome merchandise to help rep your #DurangoTrailLove!

A good place to start

locals' favorite trails

Urban Interface/In-Town

Biking on the Horse Gulch Trail System near Durango, CO

Horse Gulch Trail System

The Horse Gulch/Telegraph Trail System is the perfect trail system for all levels and user types. Located right in-town, it is a local favorite for hiking and mountain biking, and with so many different connectin

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Surrounding Area

Updated COVID-19 Recreation Guidelines

Updated Nov. 20, 2020

If you’re seeking best practices while on our area trails, here are suggestions. As of November 20, 2020, the state of La Plata County’s COVID-19 restrictions are now labeled as Level Red. Please care for yourself and your neighbors and safely connect through the outdoors. Connecting to the outdoors is still recognized as essential to our mental and physical health.

When visiting area trails and public lands, please follow these guidelines to ensure a safe environment for all: 

  • Social distancing: Keep a safe physical distance of at least six feet from people you do not live with.
  • Go solo or only with people you live with: This isn’t the time to hold even small social gatherings on public lands, as that could increase community spread of the virus. Please save the group runs, rides or hikes for after the order is lifted. 
  • Avoid the crowds: Look for nearby nature to enjoy; the closer to home the better.
  • Share the wealth: Whether it’s sharing trails and yielding to others in order to maintain a safe distance, or limiting your time on public lands so that more people can have a safe experience, please keep your larger community in mind.
  • Leave no trace: Pack out what you pack in, as garbage collection is currently very limited.
  • Use common sense: Stay at home if you or others in your household are feeling sick.

With a large number of new, local trail users out, please remember to follow “Share the Trails” ethics and proper trail etiquette by announcing yourself, slowing down, communicating with others about how to proceed, and always keeping your dog on a leash. Remember, just say “hi”.

Trails are the gateway to the outdoors; please continue to follow all local guidelines and public health orders so we can all continue to enjoy the outdoors together!

Have you been enjoying our local trails more than usual while quarantined this year? Please consider donating to Durango Trails during this season of giving so we can continue to build, plan, and maintain the regional trails you love. We also have awesome merchandise to help rep your #DurangoTrailLove!


State of Colorado Department of Public Health

Support the trails that connect you to the outdoors

Trails are the cornerstone of our community and the gateway to the outdoors.

Help support our work so you can continue to connect to the outdoors by giving to Durango Trails!