Are you looking for a modern adventure in the great outdoors? Durango, Colorado, is the perfect place to explore.
With dozens of trails, mountains, and the vast San Juan National Forest all around, there are plenty of places to explore!
We invite you to explore the less traveled path and immerse yourself in an unforgettable experience- away from the crowds. Come discover new places and unlock hidden gems as our team shows you areas that only locals know about.
Experience Durango's rich and varied nature with our selection of less-traveled trails and areas that are sure not to disappoint.
For more solitude, here's a list of some less-traveled spots around Durango, Colorado:
The Animas Mountain trail system is one of the most secluded spots in Durango. Locals mostly use this area, and is an excellent place for those seeking off-the-beaten-path adventure.
The trail system consists of 50 miles of single-track trails with various terrains and plenty of opportunities to enjoy breathtaking views of the nearby La Plata Mountains and views of north and downtown Durango in the distance. With a mix of well-maintained sections, rocky descents, and technical areas to explore, this area offers something for everyone.
Whether you are looking for an easy stroll or a heart-pumping challenge, the Animas Mountain Trail System will not disappoint.
FYI, the first mile or so from the main trailhead is a steep uphill climb to the top of Animas Mountain. From there, the trails tend to be less steep.
Once you're on top of Animas Mountain, enjoy solitude as you explore the many acres of ponderosa pines, gambel oak, and mule deer.
Keep an eye out for the pointy-eared Abert's squirrel!
On the southern edge of town lies The Carbon Junction trail system. Most people start their journey from the main trailhead off Highway 3- however, you can access this trail system from Three Springs and Horse Gulch (via the Crites Connect Trail).
Anyway, you slice it, you'll have a steep uphill climb to the top of the mesa. Once there, you'll be greeted with sweeping views of the La Plata Mountains and the nearby mesas surrounding downtown Durango.
The area is so expansive that you can explore for hours and rarely see another soul.
The Carbon Junction trail system comprises primarily single-track trails with a mix of terrain- however, the trails are relatively flat (except for the first mile until you're on top of the mesa)
Watch out for wildflowers in the springtime and fall colors in the autumn!
Vallecito Reservoir is a sprawling, picturesque lake about 30 miles northeast of Durango. With crystal clear waters and spectacular views of the Needle Mountains and Weminuche Wilderness to the north, this 2,940-acre lake is the perfect place to explore for solitude and relaxation.
Vallecito Reservoir offers excellent fishing - bass, pike, perch, and trout can all be found here! For those looking for more movement, there are plenty of trails to hike or bike around Vallecito.
Camping is also available at the lake in designated areas, including Graham Greek Campground and Pine Point Campground.
Vallecito Reservoir is unique because it's less traveled than most lakes around the four corners. Fewer people are coming through here, making it the perfect spot for those looking for a quiet place to escape it all.
Right down the road from Vallecito Reservoir lies its smaller cousin: Lemon Reservoir. Another picturesque lake tucked away in the San Juan Mountains, Lemon Reservoir about 30 miles northeast of Durango. With less development than its cousin, Lemon Reservoir has one road that hugs the water's edge. You'll likely be on your own besides the road and a few cabins!
Most people who visit Lemon Reservoir are there to fish, kayak, stand-up paddleboard, or just take in the views. If you're looking for hiking time, several trails surround the lake, such as Youngs Canyon.
If you're looking for a peaceful getaway with plenty of activities, Lemon Reservoir is the perfect spot! With its quiet surroundings and stunning views, it's no wonder why this area is becoming a local favorite.
On the northern end of Durango lies a little-known spot between a valley: the Falls Creek Recreation Area. Also known locally as "Church Camp," this area hosts a network of trails through high-desert forested land.
From the valley floor, Falls Creek Recreation Area provides visitors with stunning views of the towering sandstone and limestone cliffs rising nearly 400 feet above the valley floor.
As you ascend in height on one of the many trails, you'll be greeted with views of the Animas Valley on the east side and the West Needle Mountains to the north.
Those looking for a remote place to explore should check out Falls Creek Recreation Area, as it offers plenty of peace without sacrificing trail access.
Haviland Lake is a picturesque alpine lake in the San Juan National Forest 18 miles north of Durango. It is nestled between the surrounding cliffs and Highway 550. With excellent access right off the highway, this area is surprisingly quiet most of the year.
A no-wake lake of 80 acres, most people utilize Haviland Lake for fishing, SUPing, kayaking, and picnicking on the shores. In addition, two campgrounds surround the lake, and plenty of smaller, lesser-traveled hiking and horseback riding trails are found throughout.
If you're looking for a very quiet and peaceful afternoon on the water's edge, Haviland Lake is the spot to be.
Sauls Creek is a lesser-known spot near Durango that boasts an array of outdoor activities. Located about 25 miles northeast of the town, Sauls Creek features a series of looped trails for hiking, biking, and OHVing.
The area is a heavily forested area with several creeks that attract an abundance of wildlife, such as deer, elk, eagles, hawks, and foxes. The Sauls Creek area is also an excellent spot for mushroom hunting and foraging!
For those looking for solitude and quietness, Sauls Creek offers just that - fewer people frequent this area due to its remote location despite being right off Highway 160, east of Bayfield.
The busier months of the year can make some of Durango's trails and lakes feel a bit crowded. Thankfully, with an abundance of additional, lessen-known spots, you can avoid the crowds and have a quieter experience.
Whether you're fishing, hiking, or just taking in the views, any of the spots on our list will provide the solitude you deserve while around Durango.