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The Best Hikes in Telluride, Colorado


Are you planning a trip to Telluride and want to know where to hike? This article shares 9 of the best hikes in Telluride and the surrounding area to help you maximize your time in one of Colorado’s most iconic mountain towns.

The town of Telluride sits at the bottom of a box canyon surrounded by mountains that are brimming with scenic hiking trails and towering waterfalls. It is easily one of the most beautiful mountain towns in Colorado (and possibly the entire world). A free gondola connects Telluride to Mountain Village, where views open up and hikers are treated to panoramic mountain vistas. 

Telluride is one of my favorite places to hike in Colorado, and my husband and I take at least a couple of trips down to the area every year. The trails in this article were hand picked to pack the best views, so you can have an unforgettable experience.

woman in a purple backpack stands in front of a waterfall
One of the waterfalls along the trail to Bridal Veil Falls.

Recreate Responsibly in Telluride

Telluride is an extremely popular mountain hiking destination in Colorado. With so many people hitting the trail it’s important that everyone does their part to minimize their impacts.

One of the best parts about visiting Telluride in the fall is seeing golden aspens light up the hillsides. In order to keep the local forest healthy, please do not carve into the aspen trees. Doing so makes them more susceptible to disease and fungus. Because an entire grove of aspens share a single root system harming one tree hurts them all.

Golden aspen trees at sunset in Telluride, Colorado.

Hiking With Dogs in Telluride

Telluride is easily one of the most dog-friendly towns in the U.S. While leashes are required in certain areas of Telluride like Main Street, Town Park, and in Mountain Village, there are many trails where dogs are allowed to be off-leash (but still under control).

The majority of the hiking and biking trails around Telluride are either on land owned by the town of Telluride, the ski resort, or in Uncompahgre National Forest. Uncompahgre National Forest requires dogs to be under control at all times. Under control can include being on-leash (the preferred method) or under strict vocal command. You will likely see dogs off-leash on many of the best hikes in Telluride.

Black dog kissing a woman in front of an alpine lake in the mountains on a dog-friendly hike in Colorado.
Becket kisses at Blue Lake.

Altitude Awareness

The town of Telluride sits at 8,750 ft. and many of the hikes in this post gain a fair amount of elevation. If you’re visiting Telluride from sea level or a low elevation area, try to spend a day or two in a lower elevation city like Grand Junction or Montrose before heading up to Telluride.

If you’re not acclimated to hiking at high altitudes, prepare to take things slow and bring plenty of water to stay hydrated. Also be aware of the symptoms of altitude sickness, which include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Issues with coordination

If you begin experiencing any of these symptoms, safely get back down to a lower elevation. If altitude sickness is left untreated it can develop into a more serious problem like HAPE (high-altitude pulmonary edema) or HACE (high-altitude cerebral edema), which can be deadly.

A female hiker stands on a trail looking at a towering waterfall during the fall.
Another waterfall along the trail to Bridal Veil Falls.

Leave No Trace

The seven Leave No Trace principles are a set of guidelines to help people make responsible choices that minimize their impacts outdoors. Always remember to practice Leave No Trace on the trail in Telluride to keep the area beautiful for future generations.

  1. Plan ahead and prepare. Research the trail ahead of time, check the weather, carry a map, and make sure you have the proper gear.
  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces. Stay on developed trails and other durable surfaces, like rocks or gravel. Don’t hike through wildflower fields or meadows.
  3. Properly dispose of waste. This includes packing out all of your trash as well as pet and human waste.
  4. Leave what you find. Don’t pick wildflowers or harm the aspens.
  5. Minimize campfire impacts. Use existing fire rings and be sure to check for fire restrictions before having a campfire. Make sure that campfires are completely extinguished, which means the ashes are cool.
  6. Respect wildlife. Maintain a safe distance from wildlife. Never feed or harass wildlife.
  7. Be considerate of other visitors. Remember uphill hikers have the right of way. Don’t blast music on the trail. Be sure to communicate with other trail users where appropriate.

The member-driven Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics teaches people how to  enjoy the outdoors responsibly. This copyrighted information has been reprinted with permission from the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org.

An alpine lake surrounded by snow-covered hills.
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9 Best Hikes in Telluride

1. Bridal Veil Falls Trail

Bridal Veil Falls is the tallest free-standing waterfall in Colorado and can be seen from most places around Telluride. While it’s a sight that can’t be missed, the best views of Bridal Veil Falls come from getting up close and personal with the 365 ft. waterfall.

The trail up to Bridal Veil Falls takes you through the forest, past two other scenic waterfalls along the way. While the trail is short, it packs in roughly 900 ft. of elevation gain, so it’s a solid workout. If you have a 4WD vehicle you can also drive up to the base of Bridal Veil Falls, but you’ll miss out on the stunning views from the hike.

Woman hiker stands beneath a towering waterfall in Telluride, Colorado.

Trail Stats For Bridal Veil Falls

Trailhead Location: Google maps

There is a pit toilet at the trailhead.

Trailhead Parking Difficulty: Moderate. Parking is located at the Idarado Mine. Since the hike is very popular and the parking lot is fairly small, it fills up quickly. There is additional parking along the road, but be sure to obey any signs.

Distance: 2.4 miles out-and-back including stops at the other waterfalls along the way

Elevation Gain: 900 ft.

Difficulty: Moderate-difficult. The trail is steep and rocky the entire hike up to Bridal Veil Falls.

Estimated Hike Time: 90 minutes-2 hours

Permits/Fees: None

Dog-Friendly: Yes

Mountain Bikes: No

AllTrails Link 

Bridal Veil Falls Trail Map

2. Bear Creek Falls Trail

If you didn’t get your waterfall fix while hiking to Bridal Veil Falls, then head nearby to Bear Creek Falls. The hike to Bear Creek Falls begins on the west side of town, a short walk from the gondola. The Bear Creek Trail is wide and well-defined, which makes it a great option for beginner hikers. The trail begins gaining elevation immediately and consistently climbs up to Bear Creek Falls, but the grade is much more mellow than the Bridal Veil Falls trail.

Once you’re in sight of Bear Creek Falls, there’s a large boulder that you can scramble on top of to get an expansive view of the waterfall. You can also continue hiking up closer to the falls, but be prepared to get sprayed with water and watch your step because the rocks can get slippery. 

Woman hiker stands on a rock at the base of a large waterfall in Telluride, Colorado.

Bear Creek Falls Trail Stats

Trailhead Location: Google maps

There are no bathrooms at the trailhead, but you can find some at the gondola station.

Trailhead Parking Difficulty: Easy. There is no official parking lot for Bear Creek Trail because it starts in the middle of downtown Telluride. You can either find street parking in the area or park in Mountain Village and take the free gondola down to Telluride. The trailhead is a short walk from the gondola.

Distance: 4.5 miles out-and-back

Elevation Gain: 1,100 ft.

Difficulty: Moderate.

Estimated Hike Time: 2-3 hours

Permits/Fees: None

Dog-Friendly: Yes

Mountain Bikes: Yes

AllTrails Link

Bear Creek Falls Trail Map

3. Jud Weibe Memorial Trail

The Jud Weibe Memorial Trail begins right in downtown Telluride. It’s a very popular hike because of its easy accessibility and stunning views of town. While the trail is relatively short, be prepared for steady elevation gain as you make your way up the hillside. You’ll find an overlook with a bench for a quick pitstop at the top of the climb.

As you hike along the Jud Weibe Memorial Trail you’ll be treated to sweeping views of downtown Telluride and the surrounding mountains. This is a great hike in Telluride to do in the fall because you spend most of the hike surrounded by aspen trees.

A man and woman stand at an overlook while hiking in Telluride, Colorado with mountains in the background.

Jud Weibe Memorial Trail Stats

Trailhead Location: Google maps

There are no bathrooms at the trailhead.

Trailhead Parking Difficulty: Difficult. The trailhead is in a residential area, so you will need to park downtown and walk.

Distance: 3 mile loop

Elevation Gain: 1,200 ft.

Difficulty:  Moderate-difficult depending on fitness levels & acclimation to the elevation.

Estimated Hike Time: 1 ½-2 hours

Permits/Fees: None

Dog-Friendly: Yes

Mountain Bikes: Yes

AllTrails Link

Jud Weibe Memorial Trail Map

4. Blue Lake

If you’re looking for a picturesque alpine lake hike right in Telluride, then head up to Blue Lake (not to be confused with Blue Lakes, below). The hike to Blue Lake begins at the Bridal Veil Falls Power Station and steadily climbs into the mountains above Telluride. The high-alpine environment feels world’s away from the forested box canyon that you came from below.

This is a challenging, high-elevation hike so make sure you’re acclimated to hiking in Colorado before setting out. It’s a great hike to do with dogs during the summer because you’ll find water along the trail and (obviously) at the lake.

Trail Stats for Blue Lake

Trailhead Location: Google maps

There are no bathrooms at the actual trailhead, but you can find some at the base of the road up to Bridal Veil Falls.

Trailhead Parking Difficulty: Very difficult. Parking is limited at the Bridal Veil Falls Power Station and the drive up requires a high-clearance vehicle. You may need to park at the bottom of the road and hike up, which adds significant elevation gain.

Distance: 6 miles out-and-back

Elevation Gain: 1,870 ft.

Difficulty: Moderate-difficult (7-8/10) 

Estimated Hike Time: 3-4 hours

Fee: None

Dog-Friendly?: Yes

Mountain Bikes: Yes

AllTrails Link

Blue Lake Trail Map

5. See Forever Trail

The Telluride Ski Resort is home to a series of hiking and mountain biking trails during the summer. In my opinion, the See Forever Trail is the most scenic because it takes you to over 12,000 ft., providing stunning views of the valley below. This is a great trail to hike during the fall because the beginning on the trail takes you through the aspens, while the top of the trail provides panoramic views of the foliage below.

The hike to the top of the See Forever Trail involves a steady and steep climb, so be prepared for a workout. Be sure to check the board at the gondola station to see which trails are open and closed. It’s not uncommon for the See Forever Trail to be closed, but if you’re able to catch it while it’s open, it’s definitely worth the effort.

Woman with her hand on a hat holds a yellow flag on top of a mountain overlooking a valley below during the fall.

See Forever Trail Stats

Trailhead Location: Google maps

There is a bathroom near the gondola station at the beginning of the trail.

Trailhead Parking Difficulty: Easy. You can park in either Telluride or Mountain Village and take the gondola to the trailhead. Get off at the San Sophia Station.

Distance: 5 miles out-and-back

Elevation Gain: 1,700 ft.

Difficulty: Moderate-difficult depending on fitness levels & acclimation to the elevation.

Estimated Hike Time: 3-3 ½ hours

Permits/Fees: None

Dog-Friendly: Yes

Mountain Bikes: No

AllTrails Link

See Forever Trail Map

6. Hope Lake

The San Juan mountains are home to a variety of colorful turquoise lakes, including the lesser-known Hope Lake. The trail to Hope Lake can be found near Priest Lake outside of Telluride near Ophir. The trail takes you through the forest up to an electric blue alpine lake with views of the surrounding mountains. The best time to hike to Hope Lake is during the summer when the wildflowers bloom.

Once you arrive at Hope Lake you can continue hiking up to the saddle above the lake. From the saddle you can hike down to Ice Lakes basin if you’re feeling extra ambitious. Otherwise, turn around and take in the breathtaking views as you head back down to Hope Lake.

Woman hiking on a trail with a big blue lake behind her.

Hope Lake Trail Stats

Trailhead Location: Google maps

There are no bathrooms at the trailhead.

Trailhead Parking Difficulty: Difficult. The road up to the trailhead is bumpy and there are limited parking spots at the trailhead. 

Distance: 4.8 miles out-and-back to the lake

Elevation Gain: 1,350 ft.

Difficulty: Moderate (6.5-7.5/10)

Estimated Hike Time: 2 ½-3 hours 

Fee: None 

Dog-Friendly?: Yes

Mountain Bikes: No

AllTrails Link

Hope Lake Trail Map

7. Lower, Middle, & Upper Blue Lakes

Technically the hike to Lower, Middle, & Upper Blue Lakes is outside of Ridgway, Colorado, but it’s a popular trail for people to hike when visiting Telluride, which is why I wanted to include it on this list of the best hikes. Be aware, the Forest Service is planning to implement a new permit system for day hiking and backpacking here in 2025, and permits will be extremely limited. 

The hike has two main legs if you want to see all three lakes. The first stretch steadily climbs through the forest to Lower Blue Lake. Many hikers choose to stop here and spend time at the lake before hiking down. If you’re up for a strenuous hike with some of the most epic views in Colorado, you can cross a creek near the Lower Lake and push on up to the Middle and Upper lakes.

Trail Stats for Lower, Middle, & Upper Blue Lakes

Trailhead Location: Google maps

There is a pit toilet at the trailhead.

Trailhead Parking Difficulty: Difficult. The road up to the trailhead is rough in certain areas, so make sure you have a high-clearance vehicle. Parking spaces are also somewhat limited for how popular the hike is.

Distance: 8.8 miles out-and-back if hiking to Upper Blue Lake

Elevation Gain: 2,500 ft.

Difficulty: Difficult (8-9/10)

Estimated Hike Time: 4 ½-5 ½ hours 

Fee: None as of 2024, but a new permit system is likely coming in 2025.

Dog-Friendly?: Yes

Mountain Bikes: No

AllTrails Link

Lower, Middle, & Upper Blue Lakes Trail Map

8. Cross Mountain Trail to Lizard’s Head Pass

Cross Mountain Trail is a bit of a wildcard addition to this list of the best hikes in Telluride. It’s not heavily trafficked or well-known, but that’s what makes it a great option if you want to get away from the crowds. The trail is located along Highway 145 between Telluride and Rico, and is an alternative way to get to Lizard’s Head Pass than Lizard’s Head Pass Trail (both trails can be hikes together for a long point-to-point hike).

The trail begins climbing immediately from the parking lot before eventually entering the Lizards Head Wilderness. Portions of the trail are steep, but the grade mellows out once you’re above treeline. From there you’ll be treated to 360° views of Mt. Wilson, Lizard’s Head Peak, and the San Miguel mountains. Hike as far as you’d like before turning around and heading back to the trailhead.

Woman stands on a hiking trail with a pole in the air surrounded by snow-capped mountains.

Cross Mountain Trail Stats

Trailhead Location: Google maps

There are no bathrooms at the trailhead.

Trailhead Parking Difficulty: Easy. The parking lot is right next to the highway with plenty of parking spaces.

Distance: 7+ miles out-and-back

Elevation Gain: 2,100+ ft.

Difficulty: Difficult (7.5-8.5/10)

Estimated Hike Time: Plan to be out for at least 3 hours for the best views.

Fee: None 

Dog-Friendly?: Yes

Mountain Bikes: No

AllTrails Link

Cross Mountain Trail Map

9. River Trail

The River Trail is really more of a walking trail than a hike, but it provides access to nature right in the heart of downtown Telluride. The trail follows the headwater of the San Miguel River as it flows through town. There are some gentle hills, but it’s an easy stroll and can’t miss destination in Telluride.

In addition to providing a scenic way to get through Telluride, the San Miguel River Trail provides access to other trails, including Bear Creek Falls. This is a great option if you’re visiting Telluride with young kids and want something easy with access to water.

A flat trail next to a river with mountains in the distance in Telluride. Colorado.

River Trail Stats

Trailhead Location: Various points of entry throughout downtown Telluride.

There are bathrooms along the trail.

Trailhead Parking Difficulty: Easy-moderate. There are a lot of places to park in downtown Telluride to access the trail. Parking in Telluride can be challenging on busy weekends.

Distance: 1-4 miles

Elevation Gain: Minimal

Difficulty: Very easy (1/10)

Estimated Hike Time: 1-2 hours

Fee: None 

Dog-Friendly?: Yes

Mountain Bikes: Bikes are allowed, but it’s not a mountain biking trail.

AllTrails Link (This is just a portion of the trail. You can also follow the trail to the west of this link.)

River Trail Map

What to Pack When Hiking in Telluride, Colorado

Backpack

You’re going to need a backpack for your hike in Telluride to help carry essential gear and extra clothes, as necessary. I personally use and love the Osprey Sirrus 24L day pack. A trail running vest is a great option on shorter hikes if you want to be able to carry sufficient water while staying light on the trail.

Water

It’s very important to stay hydrated while hiking in the mountains, so make sure you carry enough water for your hike. Also consider carrying electrolyte packs like Liquid IV to add to your water, especially if you’re hiking during warmer months!

Snacks

Protein bars, trail mix, pb&j sandwiches, dried fruit, and jerky are all great hiking snack options!

Headlamp

Carrying illumination, like a headlamp, is important in case you find yourself out after dark.

Sun Protection

Sub protection is extra important when hiking at high elevations, so bring sun protection like a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen when hiking in Telluride.

First-Aid Kit

A well stocked first-aid kit should always be in your pack as one of the 10 essentials. Consider carrying band-aids, moleskin, gauze, tape, and any medications you may need when hiking in Telluride.

Map & Compass

While all of the trails on this list are fairly well-maintained and easy to follow, you should always carry a map & compass in the event you get lost. At the very least be sure to download the trail map to your phone before heading out!

Knife

A knife can come in handy for a variety of purposes on a hike, especially in the event of an emergency. 

Emergency Shelter

It’s important to carry an emergency bivvy or space blanket to help you stay comfortable and safe in the event you encounter an emergency situation that requires you to spend an unexpected night outside.

Hiking Poles

Since Telluride is located in a box canyon, many of the local trails are steep. Using hiking poles can help your knees during steep hikes.

Woman wearing all black and carrying hiking poles on a trail in the mountains.

Appropriate Layers

What clothing you specifically need to wear while hiking in Telluride depends on a number of factors including the forecast, whether you’re hiking in the summer or the fall, and your personal preferences. Helpful layers to consider wearing/bringing include a sun shirt, rain coat, and outer layer (how heavy of an outer layer you need to carry will depend on the month you’re hiking). 

Emergency GPS

I always carry a Garmin in-reach mini GPS on hikes to easily get in contact with authorities in the event of an emergency. There’s limited cell reception once you’re outside of town, so it’s a good idea to have an emergency device just in case!

Map of the Best Hikes in Telluride:

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