Telluride in the summer seemed like the ideal spot for some inspiring hikes. I’d like to impart some helpful tips for successful hiking. Of our two days hiking, I have to say, one did not end on a high note. Continue reading below for information regarding two very different hikes. The first hike I would describe as easy. The second hike is most definitely more challenging and strenuous. Although I am far from the experienced hiker, I have come leaps and bounds after spending days in a tent hiking in Peru. Here are some important points and hikes to consider.
Bear Creek Falls. Our first day hiking, we set off in the afternoon for a shorter distance. You will find the trail head off Telluride town by walking straight once you leave the gondola and then veering off to the right. This is a very manageable hike easily accomplished in less than a half day. The pathway is very well defined and wide. There is plenty of room to pass by others and maintain ample space. Once you are able to visualize the falls, the pathway narrows just for a small portion to the top. I would not describe this as a hike with a high difficulty level, so it is great for amateurs. If you are looking for a shorter hike, this is ideal. The waterfall appeared different to me than in photos. I expected a larger waterfall, but at this time of year, it was not as plentiful.
Bridal Veil Falls & Beyond (Blue Lake and Lewis Mine). You can access the Bridal Veil Falls trail head by walking or driving. This trail is quite close to a number of other trails in the area, and they are really all part of a continuum starting with Bridal Veil Falls. This is where some of the confusion comes into play regarding distances of the hike to Blue Lake and Lewis Mine. My recommendation would be to drive to the trail head if you plan on hiking any further than the falls.
Continuing beyond the falls, your next landmark would be a power plant that you can visualize at a higher elevation. Once you arrive at the power plant, take the road that runs in front of the plant. There is a gate here, and it deterred us from thinking this was the correct direction. We asked some construction workers, and they verified that you walk in front of the plant to continue to the additional trails. Eventually, you will have Lewis Mine and also Blue Lake that veer off in different directions. It is not marked and created a lot of confusion.
I read the distances for the Lewis Mine and Blue Lake hikes. That being said, you need to know that if you take the gondola over from mountain village and start walking to the trail head you are adding several miles to your hike. The concierge at the Fairmont estimated this to be about 2 additional miles, but it turned out to be more. We took the gondola over and walked to the trail head for bridal veil falls and hiked this first. At that point, we decided to continue on and try to make Blue Lake. Our start was around 9am. By a little after noon, we had not reached Blue Lake and decided to turn around. Once we made it back to town for lunch, we hiked just shy of 14 miles … and no lake was visualized! I was extremely irritated, and I did not expect such a long distance. There were a lot of switchbacks and the trail was gravel/rock once you make it past bridal veil falls. Bridal Veil Falls was dirt and much easier to walk on. Beyond the falls, it got very monotonous with the switchbacks and seemed never ending.
This day was certainly not what I expected. For those considering this hike, take the following considerations. First, make sure you bring plenty of water and food. We brought two liters, and it was not adequate. Second, plan for an entire day of hiking. My expectations were not managed well. I did not accurately calculate the distance since we walked to the trail head. Next, likely your cellular GPS will not work once you get further into the hike. Keep track of your miles, so you know how far you have been and have a more appropriate picture of how many miles are remaining to your trail end. Last, I recommend sturdy shoes for this trail. I wore my LaSportiva hiking boots for all the trails. The distance would have been challenging in a pair of tennis shoes on the rocky terrain.
There are really a number of options to hike in and around the Telluride area. In the summer, the hikes were beautiful. The trail up to Blue Lake had lots of wildflowers along the way. For a relaxing afternoon, try bear creek falls. If you are in for a more strenuous hike with about 2000 feet of elevation gain, go for bridal veil falls and continue on to either Lewis Mine or Blue Lake. Another factor that plays a role in ability is the elevation in Telluride. It is close to 9000 feet in town alone. As I was not used to this elevation, I tired much quicker than expected. It was like being back in Cusco, Peru. Finally, I cannot emphasize enough to bring plenty of water and also food!