Telluride, CO: Bear Creek

Warm up to Telluride's steep ascents with this mellow 4.5-miler that climbs steadily along Bear Creek to a 100-foot falls in the Uncompahgre National Forest.
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Warm up to Telluride's steep ascents with this mellow 4.5-miler that climbs steadily along Bear Creek to a 100-foot falls in the Uncompahgre National Forest.

One of Telluride's mellower trails, this 4.5-mile out-and-back climbs a road-grade trail alongside Bear Creek to a beautiful waterfall on Telluride's south side. Walk straight from downtown onto the Bear Creek Trail at the end of Pine Street. Look for beaver activity on the trail's left side as it climbs toward a map kiosk just before mile 0.4.
The wide dirt path turns south and continues climbing above the creek—though you'll only catch small glimpses of it until mile 1.5. The wide, rocky trail is easy to follow, but especially early in the summer, expect a few wet and muddy sections and a rock-hopping stream crossing or two. The highlight of this hike is the 100-foot falls at the valley's headwall. Towering cliffs line the rugged bowl and a picnic-perfect spot a few hundred feet below trail end is a great spot to admire them.
-Mapped by Kristy Holland

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 7.2



Location: 37.9342976, -107.8118849

The trail is marked by a service gate and a large wooden sign explaining that community support helped preserve Bear Creek from development.


Location: 37.9310459, -107.8064756

An illustrated map is posted in the kiosk near mile 0.4. It highlights the natural and human history of the area and includes details about mining, industry, and their affect on the watershed. Follow the wide path as it turns uphill to the right.


Location: 37.919741, -107.8069336

During spring melt, expect this section of trail to be wet and muddy. As the trail climbs, you'll cruise through stands of aspen, ponderosa, and open meadows. Look for evidence of early 20th century mining alongside the trail and on the far side of Bear Creek to the left.


Location: 37.9172498, -107.8073665

After climbing above the creek until now, the trail finally hits its banks near mile 1.5. Across the creek is a stream and scree field on the flanks of Ballard Mountain.


Location: 37.9125315, -107.8077908

This eroded outcropping of red-brown shale marks the site of an old mill that once generated electricity for the town of Telluride.


Location: 37.9109731, -107.8093184

Follow the main path uphill and to the right at this Y-junction.


Location: 37.9100348, -107.810108

Bypass the Wasatch Trail that leads uphill on your right. Instead, stay on the much larger main path which continues alongside the creek.


Location: 37.9082469, -107.8108549

A large, flat picnic area is a great stopping point. From here explore the falls and rocky base of the valley's headwall using the left-hand path leading over a berm, or on the rocks alongside the creek.


Location: 37.9061137, -107.811799

This high-volume falls showers rocks and soil nearby. Watch your step on the slippery path as you approach for your photo opps.


Location: 37.9061222, -107.8117239

Annual runoff from Upper Bear Creek Falls exceeds that of Ingram and Bridal Veil falls closer to town. The cascading display is a worthy reward for your climb.


Location: 37.9343145, -107.8116274

This large sign is on a small hill above the road and marks the beginning of the Bear Creek Trail.

Beaver Den

Location: 37.9334006, -107.811048

Tree stumps and a beaver den in the pond below the trail are evidence of the rodents' activity in the area.


Location: 37.9310481, -107.8062844

This kiosk marks the point where the trail turns into the valley along the old Garden Road.


Location: 37.9262244, -107.8065205

An up-canyon view of Ballard Mountain and La Junta Peak above an alpine meadow. Down-canyon views above the town of Telluride are equally beautiful.


Location: 37.9202493, -107.8069711

This small bridge leads over a runoff stream. There are several wet, rocky spots up ahead. In early summer, expect to hop rocks to avoid getting wet.

Wasatch Trail

Location: 37.910033, -107.8100395

Continue on the larger Bear Creek Trail at this junction with the Wasatch Trail that continues above the falls into Bridal Veil Basin.


Location: 37.9096691, -107.8104097

Local wildlife sightings could include this slow-moving porcupine.

Big Rock

Location: 37.9082469, -107.8107744

This flat below the falls is a great place to stop for a picnic. Explore the creek's banks and get a downstream view of the falls before continuing to climb.

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