The Best Hidden Hiking Trails in Durango

A guide to the best off-road hiking trails in Durango, Colorado.

The Best Hidden Hiking Trails in Durango

Durango is a hikers’ paradise. If you spent enough time exploring the area, you’re bound to end up with a few favorite spots for walking, climbing, and adventuring, including plenty off the beaten path. That’s why we spoke to notable locals to find the best hidden hiking trails in Durango.

Coal Bank Pass

Recommended by: Sage Anderson, Alissa Wolf

Alissa Wolf of the StillHouse Junkies, Durango’s favorite bluegrass band, recommends Coal Bank Pass for a day hike: “If you’re into hiking, Coal Bank Pass is really cool.”

Engineer Mountain Trail

Recommended by: Heather Mobley, Bryant AuCoin, Ani Casabonne

Sticker Art’s Bryant AuCoin suggests Engineer Mountain Trail if you’re not looking to go too far off the beaten path. He says, “Engineer Mountain is our classic thirteener here that everyone really loves doing. It's really easy and accessible, right off Highway 550. It’s a fun jaunt. You can do it in one afternoon.”

Colorado Trail

Recommended by: Bryant AuCoin, Jen LaCroix, Sean Clark, Elizabeth Kinahan

If it’s atmosphere and scenery you’re after, AuCoin recommends the Colorado Trail: “If you're looking for a local trail, Colorado Trail is always great. You’re next to a stream, and it’s really pretty.”

The Sky Steps to Fort Lewis

Recommended by: Kirk Komick, Elizabeth Kinahan

Kirk Komick of the Rochester Hotel and Leland House, like many locals, is a big fan of the Sky Steps to Fort Lewis College, right in the middle of Durango. He shares, “One of the beautiful hikes that I love sending our guests on is the hike up to the campus. You can take the nature trail or the recently built big steps. Looking down on the town from the campus is like a little postcard. It’s just gorgeous, with 360-degree views.”

Falls Creek

Recommended by: Elizabeth Kinahan

Durango-based artist Elizabeth Kinahan of Studio & Gallery likes to cool off at Falls Creek: “Falls Creek is a super cool, wet place to go. You can either take your dog or just go hiking.”

Animas Mountain Trail

Recommended by: Elizabeth Kinahan

Kinahan also heads west to Animas Mountain Trail for a quick hike. She says, “You can pick up a hike right up just west of town along the Animas Mountain Trail.”

La Plata Canyon

Recommended by: Elizabeth Kinahan

If you’d like to combine hiking with climbing or biking, head to La Plata Canyon, west of Durango in the San Juan National Forest. Says Kinahan, “The Canyon is an awesome place to go hiking or fishing.”

Hogsback Ridge

Recommended by: Marcos Wisner, Kami Swingle

Durango’s trails, even the hidden gems, are so accessible that Marcos Wisner of 11th Street Station says he’ll get out there during a lunch break: “I would hike Hogsback Ridge for a little workout and to get a good view of town. It’s a beautiful hike right in the heart of Durango, just head out your back door.”

Potato Lake Trail

Recommended by: Alex Mickel

North of Durango, near Purgatory Resort, Potato Lake Trail is known for its kid- and beginner-friendly skill level and a charming lilypond. Alex Mickel of Mild to Wild Rafting says, “One of my favorite close to town hikes is up to Potato Lake. It’s only two hours round trip.”

Smelter Mountain Trail

Recommended by: Jim Carver, Marcos Wisner

If you’re going for a good workout up a steep incline, Jim Carver of Carver Brewing Company suggests the Smelter Mountain Trail, saying, “The Smelter Mountains are great for hiking. They’re right in town and there’s a big scenic overlook.”

Weminuche Wilderness

Recommended by: Luke Mehall

Northeast of Durango and just southeast of Silverton, the sprawling Weminuche Wilderness is home to enough trails to make your head spin, says Luke Mehall of Climbing Zine: “We're surrounded by the Weminuche Wilderness, which is the biggest wilderness area in Colorado. It’s just endless and stunning.”