Durango Hiking: The Best Hikes from Locals
By Molly • October 26, 2015
There are many beautiful Durango hiking trails to explore in and around the Durango area. The landscape surrounding Durango is packed full of breathtaking scenery and dramatic views. Taking a guided rafting trip or going on one of the many guided jeep tours are both excellent ways to explore this area and benefit from some local knowledge of the area. Another great way to get out and explore is on a hike. These are some of our favorites.
1. Smelter Mountain Trail
This short but steep trail that starts in town is very popular with locals as a way to get a quick morning work out in before starting the day. The trail starts in town and is best done in the morning, as there is little shade along the way. The end of the trail brings you to an incredible vantage point above Durango. This gives you incredible views of both town as well as the Animas River.
2. Engineer Mountain
Engineer Mountain is a very prominent peak just north of Durango. While it doesn’t reach 14,000ft, it is still quite large at over 12,000ft. This hike is not for the faint of heart as there are several steep and exposed sections. Hikers that reach the top, however, are rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views, as well as the feeling of being on top of the world. The approach to the mountain is through a high alpine forest with meadows often filled with Colorado wildflowers. Once hikers reach the base of the mountain, they trade trees for scree fields and really get to experience what high elevation Durango hiking is like.
3. Durango Hiking: The Colorado Trail
The Colorado Trail is a long distance trail that runs all the way from Denver, Colorado to Durango, just a little under 500 miles long. The section closest to Durango makes for some excellent day hiking and can be as long or as short as you want. The first couple of miles follow Junction Creek and the beautiful sound of running water, before climbing up to a scenic overlook. Be on the look out for mountain bikers as this Durango hiking trail is also very popular for biking.
4. Ice Lakes Near Silverton, Colorado
Ice Lakes is a classic high elevation hike that takes you to several crystal clear alpine lakes. Hikers ascend a steep forested trail while passing waterfalls and wildflowers. Once reaching the lower basin, the trees thin out and the high rocky peaks that surround the trail become visible. Hikers then have the option of hiking to several high lakes from this point. This hike truly has it all, waterfalls, wildflowers, rocky peaks, several small creek crossings, and best of all, multiple strikingly clear mountain lakes.
If you feel like the high altitude level may hold you back, consider experiencing the high mountain scenery on one of Mild to Wild’s guided jeep tours. Otherwise, we hope you get out and enjoy our mountains. Feel free to share your favorite Durango hiking experiences both in and around the Durango area!