Telluride Trails: Hiking Passes, Loops, and Summits of Southwest Colorado


This is a handy pocket guide for the day hiker with easy-to-follow directions to the high country and peaks surrounding Telluride and beyond. Helpful maps are included at the beginning of each chapter. Many of the 110 hikes are illustrated with photos along with listings of elevation, distance, time, and ease of trails to help travelers through their journey.

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Telluride Trails: Hiking Passes, Loops, and Summits of Southwest Colorado

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This is a handy pocket guide for the day hiker with easy-to-follow directions to the high country and peaks surrounding Telluride and beyond. Helpful maps are included at the beginning of each chapter. Many of the 110 hikes are illustrated with photos along with listings of elevation, distance, time, and ease of trails to help travelers through their journey.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780871083043
  • Publisher: Pruett Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 2/17/2014
  • Series: Pruett Series
  • Edition description: Second Edition, Revised
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 254
  • Sales rank: 1,182,799
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

"San Juan" Don, as many call him, has been whole-hog about hiking and biking the Telluride area for over fifteen years. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in New York, and deejayed at a local community radio station in Colorado. Don has lived in Aspen, and San Jose, California, with short stints in Utah, Texas, and Alaska. Originally from Ohio, Don lived in Colorado for years, and now makes his home in Portland, Oregon.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 2: Northwest Telluride
15 bike
Deep Creek Trail 418
Elevation: 10,620 feet, with vertical gain of 1540 feet (hiking) or 1875 feet (bike Loop from Telluride)
Distance: 6 miles one way on Deep Creek Trail 418 alone, plus Mill Creek Road FS 637 or Last Dollar Road and CO-145 for the short drive or bike to the THs. A couple shorter Loops leave Deep Creek Trail for Eider Creek Trail (hike 23, 5 miles round-trip) or San Juan Don’s Loop (hike 24, 3 1/2 miles round-trip) and will take you back to your vehicle at the water treatment plant or 1/2 mile below the plant at the switchback on Mill Creek Road FS 637
Duration: 3 1/2–4 hours from the top of Mill Creek Road FS 637 to Last Dollar Road, taking the trail E to W. Have an extra car or bike shuttled to one end of the trail or the other, as Deep Creek Trail 418 only goes one way
Difficulty: Strenuous. Long walk, steeper by Mill Creek. San Juan Don’s Loop (hike 24) is a more difficult bushwhack; Eider Creek Loop (hike 23) is fairly easy
Trailhead: For the E side of Deep Creek Trail 418, drive 1 mile W of Telluride past the gas station and turn right (N) on Mill Creek Road FS 637. 2WD the dirt road, more steeply to the NW to begin, a mile up to the water treatment plant. For the W side of the trail, begin at the Deep Creek–Whipple Mountain TH; see hike 6 for directions.
Notes: Deep Creek Trail technically goes farther E from the top of Mill Creek Trail 2 miles to Jud Wiebe Trail 432 and shares the Waterline Trail, a super-easy traverse. Start the bigger Loop from town if you are biking, and head to either TH. Both ends of the trail are a bit steeper.
Route: From the water treatment plant, walk left (N) up the Mill Creek–Deep Creek Trail from the parking area more than 1/2 mile steadily to the Deep Creek Trail 418 sign and intersection. Go left (W) 1/2 mile steeply, including some switchbacks as you hike through a big meadow and back into the trees up to the W start of the Sneffels Highline Trail. This little shoulder is also the high point on Deep Creek Trail 418. San Juan Don’s Loop bushwhacks S, and Eider Creek Trail goes S 1/2 mile farther W on Deep Creek Trail 418. Continue along the traverse as far as you want. There are only a couple of signs, and the route is obvious unless there’s fresh snow on it. This marvelous path traverses 3 miles below Iron Mountain and Campbell Peak, and above Aldasoro and Sunnyside ranches through the high alpine forest and seemingly endless aspens most of the way on a fairly steady grade. It finally gets steeper down to the intersection of Sheep Creek and Whipple Mountain Trail. Go left (SW) on Deep Creek Trail 418 for 1 1/2 miles more easily to the Last Dollar Road TH.
16 4WD
Whipple Mountain Trail 419 to Whipple Mountain
Elevation: 11,550 feet; 11,922 feet; with vertical gains of 2470 feet to the saddle, 3122 feet from the bottom of Last Dollar Road at Deep Creek–Whipple Mountain TH, 970 feet from a switchback near the top of Last Dollar Road to the saddle, 1330 feet from a switchback near the top of Last Dollar Road
Distance: 5 miles up, 10 miles round-trip; 5 1/2 miles up, 11 miles round-trip for the summit; 3 miles round-trip including the summit from a switchback near the top of Last Dollar Road
Duration: 2 1/2–3 hours to the saddle between Whipple Mountain and Han Shan, 4–5 hours round-trip; 1 hour round-trip from the saddle S to the summit and back; 1 hour to the saddle from a switchback near the top of Last Dollar Road, 1 1/2 hours round-trip
Difficulty: Mix of strenuous (longer, steeper from the lower TH on Last Dollar Road) and moderate (loose and steady up but short, route-finding to the summit from either TH)
Trailhead: For both THs, begin by following directions from hike 6 to arrive at Deep Creek–Whipple Mountain TH. For the lower TH, park there. For the upper TH, drive 6 1/2 miles farther, descending N to a big curve going left (W) over a bridge, then past the intersection with Deep Creek Road on the left. Continue NW up Last Dollar Road along a steeper section, possibly requiring 4WD to the last switchback 1/2 mile before the top (10,663 feet). Park along the road or at the tiny signed parking area on the right (E).
Route: From the lower TH on Last Dollar Road 1 mile N of the airport, take the gentle trail to the left (N) up 1/2 mile of turns in the open meadow, before leveling out into the woods (NE) 1 mile next to a water-filled ditch to the intersection of Deep Creek Trail and Sheep Creek. Go left (W) away from Deep Creek Trail in the flats and past the sign for Whipple Mountain Trail at 2 miles from the TH. Continue down a straightaway NE 1/2 mile and cross Deep Creek (East Fork) over a log bridge. Pass Deep Creek (East Fork)/Iron Mountain Road on the right. Hike up to the W 1/2 mile from the creek, and make a sharp right turn (N) at the next intersection and sign (3 miles from the TH) onto the official trail instead of going down the “closed to public” trail. Continue across from a huge, rolling meadow and pond as you traverse the hillside (N) a mile up and down, ending in the aspens and pines near the creek. Five minutes past the Sneffels Wilderness sign, cross Deep Creek where it is safe over logs. Ascend a big switchback and go through the thinning forest to a clearing. A sign and trail posts will direct you left (NW) through the clearing to continue on Whipple Mountain Trail 419. Hike N and NW 1 mile up switchbacks on a steep, rocky hillside opposite Whipple Mountain whilst keeping it in your sights. This is the toughest part of the hike, walking W to the woods, high saddle, and sign below the summit.
            For Whipple Mountain, turn left (S) near the middle of the wide saddle. If you started at the TH near the top of Last Dollar Road, go right (S) near the center of the main saddle. The 1-mile ascent from the Whipple Mountain TH at the highest switchback on Last Dollar Road is a leisurely stroll with many semi-loose switchbacks on a medium grade, finally coming up to the saddle SW through the woods.
            From the center of the saddle, go 30 feet S into the trees and over a big downed evergreen that obscures a faint path on the other side going slightly left (SE). Follow this until it fades, and bushwhack another 1/4 mile up, as you angle left steeply NE of the summit and perhaps up the little ridge. You may have to cross several downed trees along the way, fewer if you do it right. The big, grassy summit area is barely above tree line, making it totally worth the walk.
17 4WD
Han Shan
Elevation: 12,311 feet, with vertical gains of 1730 feet from Whipple Mountain TH near the top of Last Dollar Road or the very top at Alder Creek TH, 3230 feet from the bottom of Last Dollar Road at Deep Creek–Whipple Mountain TH
Distance: 2 miles up from either TH at the top of Last Dollar Road, 4 miles round-trip; 5 1/2 miles up, 11 miles round-trip from the bottom of Last Dollar Road at Deep Creek–Whipple Mountain TH
Duration: 1 1/2–2 hours max to the summit, 3–4 hours Loop or not round-trip; 3–4 hours up, 5–6 hours round-trip
Difficulty: Mix of strenuous (trail-finding, some steeps up the easier route from the high saddle/Alder Creek TH at the top of Last Dollar Road) and very challenging (super-steep bouldering on narrow S ridge)
Trailhead: Bottom of Last Dollar Road at Deep Creek–Whipple Mountain TH (see hike 6 for directions) or top of Last Dollar Road (see hike 1). Begin at the lowest TH on Last Dollar Road or Whipple Mountain Trail less than 1/2 mile from the top of the road at the highest switchback if you are attempting the difficult S ridge of Han Shan.
Notes: Although this mountain is officially called Unnamed Point 12,311, locals know it as Han Shan (literally “cold mountain” and the name of a legendary Chinese poet). It’s the steep hill to the N of the saddle with Whipple Mountain, not to be confused with the nearby and much lower Hawn Mountain (and a newer trail with rock stairs there). Directions will be for a Loop, as you could start at the top of Last Dollar Road and end back at Last Dollar Road just under 1/2 mile down from the top of the road at Whipple Mountain TH. Go around in either direction, or hike one way and return by the same route. The Alder Creek TH at the top of the road provides easier access, and you may wish to come back by the same route and skip the difficult Loop. The hike from the S ridge has you boulder and then climb a very steep, short cliffy section that could be categorized as “expert-only” if it were sustained for any longer. (See the end of hike 5 for more hints.)
Route: For the safer, more expediential route, park at the top of Last Dollar Road at Alder Creek TH. Start up the little shoulder in the clearing on the right (E) side of the road just to the right (S) of the trees on the solid trail as you go past the old sign to begin. Stay in the clearing a couple feet to the right (S) of the woods when you see private camping huts and other paths going left, and follow the main trail. Hike into the woods more than 1/4 mile. The walking is mellow for another 1/4 mile and quite beautiful through the pines (E) over the crest of the shoulder. Pass by the top of the Summit Creek drainage and its wide gully to the right (S), immediately arriving below the main ridge and slightly left (N). Leave the main path and bushwhack steeply past the thinning pines to the right (S) 1/4 mile to get onto the bottom of the main ridge extending W from the peak. Hike up the mellow, high ridge to the E 1/2 mile to the steeps on the summit block. Climb the wide, rocky ledges with semi-loose scree E 150 feet up, where you may or may not follow the tiny paths to the high ridge a hundred feet or so left (N) of the summit, then make your way right (S) more easily to the top. You will be rewarded with outstanding views of the San Miguel Range a few miles to the S and the many jagged mountains within the nearby Sneffels Wilderness Area. Han Shan itself looks rather formidable from most angles, and you have all of Box Factory Park along the adjoining ridge and around the cirque!
            Return the same way, or do the much more difficult Loop by continuing S down the ridge toward Whipple Mountain. The S ridge quickly narrows, and you have some exhilarating exposure with huge drop-offs on both sides. Climb slowly down the center of the steeper ridge to the main crux 1/4 mile from the summit. A sheer rock section more than 20 feet tall impedes travel on the ridge and can be bypassed going directly to the right (W) down a short, 30-foot W-facing ramp (2–3 feet wide). The rock in the area is greenish and semi-solid. Go immediately to the left (E) 25 feet back to the nearby ridge crest over a narrow ledge and green rocks to a tiny notch directly under the sheer rock face on the ridge. Or from the W-facing ramp, continue down 25 feet more (S), descend a steep 6-foot rock section to the left (SE), and take the easier grassy ledge (E) 20 feet over to the nearby notch below the sheer-rock obstacle on the ridge. The crux area isn’t quite over yet. You’ll need to get into the more-than-40-foot-long rocky couloir on the actual ridge two-thirds of the way down it, but first boulder 25 feet steeply down the big, flat-sloping rocks just to the right (W) of the ridgeline and couloir. The rocky gully and an opening in the outcrop will appear on your left (E) with steep-sloping rock. Carefully make your way into the gully by descending one of two steep routes around 10 feet.
            If you are coming up from the Whipple Mountain saddle, it’s 1/2 mile to the major crux section, as you go (N) up a grassy dirt path to begin. Hike slightly to the left (W), then up the center of the ridge or just left (W) to the main crux section below the summit. Take the slender, grassy runway just to the left (W) of the ridge for about 100 yards to the base of the rocky couloir and apparent obstacle. You should ascend the big boulders to the left (W) from about a third of the way up the 40-foot-long rocky gully on the ridge. Then climb the first super-steep, skinny crack about 10 feet up, or go just a couple feet farther up to free climb the steep-sloping, flatter rock and ledges. Watch all your holds as the rock is loose and crumbly.
            The remainder of the ridge, from the crux area down 1/2 mile to the saddle between Han Shan and Whipple Mountain, is wider with better walking. Continue with some grass along the rocky ridgeline to the S, and stay near the middle or go barely right (W) of the ridge a few times. A sign at the saddle reads “Sneffels Wilderness–Uncompahgre National Forest.” Go left (E) to the lowest TH on Last Dollar Road in 5 miles, or right (W) 1 mile to the TH and switchback near the top of Last Dollar Road.

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents:
Overview Map
Chapter 1. Far Northwest Telluride
1 Alder Creek Trail 510
2 North Pole Peak
3 Hayden Peak
4 Unnamed Point 12,700
5 Box Factory Park West Ridge Loop
6 Deep Creek Upper Canyon
7 S-5
8 S-6
9 Deep Creek Upper Basin
10 S-7
11 Ruffner Mountain
12 S-8
13 S-9
14 S-10
Chapter 2. Northwest Telluride
15 Deep Creek Trail 418
16 Whipple Mountain Trail 419 to Whipple Mountain
17 Han Shan
18 Campbell Peak to Iron Mountain Loop
19 Iron Mountain
20 T-0
21 West Dallas Peak
22 Mill Creek Trail to Waterline Trail
23 Eider Creek Trail
24 San Juan Don's Loop
Chapter 3. North Telluride
25 Sneffels Highline Trail 434
26 Greenback Mountain
27 Mount Emma
28 Cornet Creek Falls
29 Jud Wiebe Trail 432
30 Liberty Bell Trail
Chapter 4. Far North Telluride (Ridgway-Ouray-Montrose)
31 Blue Lakes Trail 201 to Blue Lakes Pass
32 Blue Lakes West Basin
33 S-3
34 S-4
35 Blaine Basin Trail 203
36 Blaine Peak
37 Gilpin Peak
38 Stony Mountain
39 Mount Sneffels
Chapter 5. Northeast Telluride
40 Sheridan Crosscut Trail
41 Owl Gulch Ridge Trail 420
42 Mendota Peak
43 T-5
44 Tomboy Road FS 869 to Imogene Pass
45 Chicago Peak to Little Chicago Peak
Chapter 6. East Telluride
46 Bridal Veil Falls to Power Station
47 Telluride Peak (Proper)
48 Ajax Peak
49 Telluride Peak (Observed)
50 Black Bear Pass to Trico Peak
51 T-10
Chapter 7. Southeast Telluride
52 Grays Basin
53 Ingram Peak Loop
54 Mud Lake
55 Blue Lake
56 Lewis Lake
57 T-11
58 Jackass Basin
59 Silver Lake
60 Bear Creek Trail
61 Deertrail Basin to Unnamed Point 12,230
62 Ballard Mountain
63 Ballard's Horn
64 La Junta Peak
65 La Junta Basin
66 Wasatch Mountain
67 Wasatch Trail 508
68 Oscar's Peak
Chapter 8. Town and South Telluride
69 Town of Telluride
70 Lena Basin
71 Gold Hill
72 Telluride Ski Area
73 Palmyra Peak
74 Bald Mountain
75 Silver Mountain
76 Silver Mountain Little or Big Ridge Loop
Chapter 9. Far South Telluride (Ophir-Silverton-Durango)
77 Galloping Goose Trail to Lizard Head Pass
78 Ophir Pass to Crystal Lake
79 Lookout Peak
80 Columbine Lake Trail 509
81 Swamp Canyon to Grant-Swamp Pass
82 V-2
83 V-3
84 Waterfall Canyon to Yellow Mountain
85 Hope Lake Trail 410
86 Pilot Knob
87 Golden Horn
88 Vermilion Peak
89 Fuller Peak
90 Beattie Peak
91 V-8
92 V-9
93 San Miguel Peak
94 Ice Lake Trail 505 and Island Lake
95 V-4
96 US Grant Peak
97 Twin Sisters
98 Rolling Mountain
Chapter 10. Far Southwest Telluride (Rico-Cortez-Durango)
99 Cross Mountain Trail to Point 12,038
100 Cross Mountain
101 Lizard Head Trail 409 to Black Face
102 Bilk Creek Trail 408
103 Wilson Peak
104 Sunshine Mountain
105 Wilson Mesa Trail 421
106 Woods Lake Trail 406
107 Elk Creek Trail 407
108 Navajo Lake Trail 635
109 Kilpacker Trail 203 to El Diente Peak
110 Mount Wilson Loop

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