With only a few days to spend in Durango, we had a difficult choice to make. Between the hundreds of hiking trails awaiting at our doorstep, how many did we have time to explore? Wanting to climb as many peaks on as many trails as possible, we devised an itinerary that included the best ridgeline views, secret meadows, and bucket-list fourteeners.
With boots strapped tight and backpacks snug, this extended weekend proved to be one of the best adventures of our life. For the hiker in all of us, we share the peak-to-peak vacation everyone deserves to experience.
Day 1: Perins Peak to North Perins
Hiking to the summit of Perins Peak offers a scenic 6 mile out-and-back close to town. Tack on North Perins Peak and you have a beautiful multi-summit day with La Plata mountain views, hidden valley scenery, and quiet solitude. With these two peaks, the 10-mile round trip with 2,200’ in elevation gain is a perfect welcome celebration to the southwest. Climb your way above ponderosa pine to the top of Perins at 8,346’, fall back in elevation and scramble your way to the 8,682’ North Perins Peak. With hands on rock and feet on trail, you’ll find wildlife, wildflowers, and maybe even the historic Durango train as it chugs by below. Note: Wildlife closure until July 31.
Day 2: The Hidden Valley Loop
The name for Hidden Valley is appropriate, as hiking across this 5-mile loop feels like a sweet secret to be shared with the locals. Wide, grassy meadow views and sandstone cliff climbs bring you to views of both the Hermosa and Hidden Valley. It’s easy to extend or shorten this hike, making it an ideal rest day jaut. In summertime, you’ll find waterfalls along the creek and share the trails with runners, horseback riders, and dogs. Follow the impacted trail and you’ll earn much-deserved views of Missionary Ridge across the way, which you should hike tomorrow.
Day 3: Missionary Ridge
A welcome trail for hikers and mountain bikers alike, the 7-mile single track across Missionary Ridge provides no momentous summits, but hours of every-changing and delicious scenery.
After every bend and twist in the trail, you’ll climb a total of 1,452 feet. Passing the junction of Haflin Creek, First Fork, and Stevens Creek Trail, there are plenty of opportunities to extend or shorten this route. You may want to, after finding winding views of the Animas River, Animas Valley, and La Plata Mountain.
Day 4-6: The Fourteener Quadfecta
If only we had more time on our extended vacation, we would have included the infamous Durango Train 14er expedition. The Needle Mountain range, only accessible by train or foot, offers access to Sunlight Peak, Mt. Eolus, North Eolus, and Windom Peak. Each of these four mountains rise to more than 14,000’ above sea level and require a multi-day adventure through the Weminuche Wilderness to climb. On a trail where you’ll find alpine lakes, mountain goats, and quad-morning scrambles, this is perhaps the ultimate backcountry multi-peak adventure.