The mountains surrounding Ouray offer numerous excellent hikes suitable for a variety of skill levels. In this article, we discuss a few of our favorite nearby hikes. For more information on hiking in the Ouray, Colorado area, give us a call.
Ouray Perimeter Trail
Length: 6.0 miles
Distance from us: 0.7 miles
The Ouray Perimeter Trail runs around Ouray, and features a variety of terrain. The trail passes by many of Ouray's most iconic points of interest. You'll be able to view Cascade Falls, the Uncompahgre River, Canyon Creek, and many other attractions. Some of the best views from the trail are at its highest elevation (a little over 8,300 feet).
Ouray Perimeter Trail has a number of access points. The most obvious one is on the north side of town, at the Ouray Visitor Center. Here, you can also pick up trail descriptions and maps.
Hiking the entire trail does take a while to complete, usually around 4-5 hours. Parts of the trail are strenuous, so you should be sure to wear good hiking boots. Trekking poles also might be useful. Also, some areas of the trail are somewhat exposed. Keep that in mind if you have a fear of heights. Ouray Perimeter Trail never gets more than a half mile from Ouray, so, if you give out, you can exit early. Elevation gain is over 1,500 feet. Dogs on a leash are welcome.
Hayden Trail offers great views of the Ironton Park area, and runs through somewhat remote areas. The trail passes along the west side of Ironton Park, along slopes below Hayden Ridge, and over peaks above the Yankee Boy Basin. The hike starts at an elevation of around 9,260 feet. Elevation gain is almost 3,000 feet.
Note that Hayden Trail is very steep in some places and will probably require some route-finding ability. In addition some slopes and ridges are quite exposed, making this hike very uncomfortable if you have a fear of heights.
All in all, Hayden Trail is a difficult hike. Know what you're doing before attempting it.
Bear Creek Trail National Recreation Trail is one of our area's most spectacular, and demanding, hikes. The trail was originally created by miners in the 1870s. It was blasted into the cliff faces above Bear Creek. The trail runs above Bear Creek Canyon and includes numerous switchbacks and fantastic views of the Mount Sneffels range. Along the way, you'll also wind through alpine meadows, and see tow abandoned mines (Grizzly Bear Mine and Yellow Jacket Mine). Elevation at the trailhead is around 8,500 feet. Elevation gain is around 4,700 feet.
While Bear Creek Trail National Recreation Trail is a very popular hike, it is only recommended for experienced hikers. Parts of the trail travel along steep drop offs and through at least one talus field. Bringing a dog is not recommended.
Upper Cascade Falls Trail (via Chief Ouray Mine) takes about half a day to complete, but the hike is well worth the effort. You'll be treated to great views of Cascade Fall, the Amphitheatre, and the Uncompahgre Valley. Note that some sections of the trail are exposed and definitely not recommended if you have a fear of heights.
You can access Upper Cascade Falls Trail near the Amphitheater Campground. The first part of the hike winds through scrub oaks; then, it becomes quite steep. You'll pass Upper Cascade Falls, and end up near the Chief Ouray Mine, at an elevation of around 10,000 feet. On the way back, you do have the option of getting on the Portland Trail, although this route adds around 1.5 miles to the hike. Dogs (and horses) are welcome on the trail.