The Church Camp Trail System is Durango’s best-kept secret. Though small, this trail system packs a punch as it cruises through a hidden valley with tall grass and Ponderosa Pines. It also offers breathtaking views of the layered Hermosa cliffs across the Animas River Valley.
In the summer, visitors can take a short hike, ride their mountain bike, or climb and boulder in this area.
For winter visitors, this valley becomes the destination for cross country skiers and snowshoers looking for a quick jaunt.
Though slightly longer, the Church Camp Loop is flatter and easier for children and the elderly.
For more of a challenge, try the Ridge Hike Trail, which has more variation in elevation gain. It also has stunning views of the lower Animas River Valley.
Without a doubt, the best trail for mountain bikers is the Ridge Hike Trail, which has breathtaking, technical drop-offs through buttery smooth powder.
Because of the brevity of the trails, many mountain bikers combine both the Church Camp Loop and Ridge Hike Trail for a longer, more difficult ride.
The best climbing and bouldering spots near this trail system can be found nearby at Turtle Lake.
Church Camp Loop and Ridge Hike Trail are fantastic paths for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Keep in mind, though, that there is no winter signage posted in this trail system.
Please educate yourself on avalanche safety and best practices, and remember that mountain slopes are not the only place where avalanches can occur.
Bring plenty of water on your journey.
The sun is much stronger at higher altitudes, so apply and reapply sunscreen liberally every two hours.
Keep an eye out for the secret waterfall in the area.
Be aware that predators are known to stalk the area at dusk.
Avoid blisters and stop by Brown’s Sport Shoe to get properly fitted shoes for trail running.
Please pack out all trash and waste, including your pet's waste.
If you bike in, be mindful of foot traffic.
Follow Leave No Trace (LNT) principles.
Dogs must be leashed or otherwise physically restrained. Do not leave pets unattended.
Do not pick the wildflowers.
Do not engage with or feed the wildlife.