Durango, Colorado, nestled in the scenic Animas River Valley, is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Known for its breathtaking landscapes, this charming town offers a wealth of hiking opportunities that cater to various skill levels and interests. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker seeking a challenging trail or a family looking for a leisurely stroll, Durango has something for everyone. Here are some of the best places to find hikes in Durango CO.

1. Animas Mountain Trail
For those looking for a hike close to town, the Animas Mountain Trail is an excellent choice.

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This 6-mile loop trail provides stunning views of the Animas River Valley, the La Plata Mountains, and the town of Durango itself. The trail is moderately challenging, with some steep sections, making it perfect for intermediate hikers. The panoramic views from the top are well worth the effort, especially during sunrise or sunset.

2. Colorado Trail
The Colorado Trail, stretching from Denver to Durango, offers some of the most picturesque and diverse hiking experiences in the state. The trail spans 500 miles, but you can enjoy shorter segments near Durango. One popular section is the hike to Gudy’s Rest, named after Gudy Gaskill, the trail’s visionary. This 9-mile round trip offers lush forests, wildflowers, and breathtaking mountain vistas. The trailhead is located at Junction Creek, just a short drive from downtown Durango.

3. Engineer Mountain Trail
For a more challenging adventure, consider the Engineer Mountain Trail. This 12-mile round-trip hike takes you to the summit of Engineer Mountain, standing at over 12,900 feet. The trail starts at Coal Bank Pass and ascends through alpine meadows and rocky terrain. The panoramic views from the summit are truly spectacular, with the San Juan Mountains stretching out in every direction. This hike is best suited for experienced hikers due to its length and elevation gain.

4. Purgatory Trail
Located near the Purgatory Resort, the Purgatory Trail offers a delightful mix of scenery and terrain. This 10-mile round-trip trail winds through aspen groves, meadows, and along Cascade Creek. It’s a moderate hike with gentle elevation changes, making it accessible to a wide range of hikers. The trail is especially beautiful in the fall when the aspen leaves turn golden, creating a stunning contrast against the evergreens.

5. Hermosa Creek Trail
The Hermosa Creek Trail is a favorite among locals for its scenic beauty and accessibility. This 20-mile trail can be tackled in sections or as a multi-day backpacking trip. Starting from the Hermosa Creek Campground, the trail meanders along Hermosa Creek, offering views of lush meadows, dense forests, and the occasional wildlife sighting. The gentle terrain makes it ideal for beginners and families.

6. Spud Lake Trail
If you’re looking for a shorter, family-friendly hike, the Spud Lake Trail is a great option. This 3-mile round-trip hike is perfect for kids and beginners, offering a gentle ascent through a forest to Spud Lake. The lake is a serene spot for a picnic or a refreshing dip on a hot day. The trailhead is located off Old Lime Creek Road, a scenic drive in itself.

7. Vallecito Creek Trail
For those willing to venture a bit further from Durango, the Vallecito Creek Trail is a must-visit. Located about 30 miles northeast of town, this trail offers a variety of hiking options. The trail follows Vallecito Creek, passing through lush forests, meadows, and dramatic canyon scenery. It’s an excellent spot for fishing, and the trail can be hiked as a day trip or extended into a multi-day backpacking adventure.

8. Ice Lakes Basin
A bit of a drive from Durango, but well worth the trip, is the Ice Lakes Basin Trail near Silverton. This 8-mile round-trip hike is renowned for its stunning alpine scenery, including vibrant wildflower displays, crystal-clear alpine lakes, and dramatic mountain vistas. The trail is moderately challenging with a significant elevation gain, but the beauty of the Ice Lakes Basin is unmatched.

Tips for Hiking in Durango
Prepare for the Altitude: Durango’s elevation is over 6,500 feet, and many trails climb much higher. Take time to acclimate and stay hydrated.
Weather Awareness: Weather in the mountains can change rapidly. Check the forecast and be prepared for sudden changes.
Leave No Trace: Respect the natural environment by packing out all trash and staying on designated trails.
Wildlife Caution: Durango is home to a variety of wildlife, including bears. Be aware of your surroundings and take appropriate precautions.

Durango, Colorado, is a treasure trove of hiking opportunities, offering trails that range from easy strolls to challenging climbs. Whether you’re seeking serene forest paths, panoramic mountain views, or picturesque alpine lakes, you’ll find it all in this outdoor paradise. So lace up your hiking boots, grab your gear, and explore the natural beauty that Durango has to offer.