Horse Gulch Trail System

Visitors looking for a quick change of scenery should consider journeying to the Horse Gulch Trail System — Durango’s secret mountain hideaway. With a staggering 22 trails of varying difficulty to discover, explorers will have plenty to see and do in the serene vale. The main access point for the trail network can be found at a small, free parking lot just off 8th avenue and 3rd street. 

In the summer, many mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, and birdwatching opportunities exist. 

Visitors can cross-country ski and snowshoe in the quiet valley in the winter. 

Things to Do in the Horse Gulch Trail System


Hikers can find short trails of varying length, difficulty, and terrain to satisfy their hiking itch. Some visitors may want to take a walk on the idyllic Meadow Loop Trail for an easy hike. More advanced hikers may prefer to hike up the trail to Pautsky Point for a panoramic view of Durango and Bayfield. 

Mountain Biking

The Horse Gulch Trail system has some of the most thrilling and perilous drops in the Durango area. For epic jumps through powdery shale, mountain bikers should visit Send It Descent, Stacy’s Loop, Mike’s Trail, or Ben’s Down N Out Trail. Please be mindful of foot traffic when biking at high speeds. 

Horseback Riding

While there are no laws prohibiting horseriding in the Horse Gulch Trail System, equestrians should be aware that it is heavily trafficked by mountain bikes, which may disturb an otherwise peaceful mount. 

Bird Watching

Eagle-eyed visitors may see a wide array of avian life in the Horse Gulch Trail System. With an abundance of vantage points to bird watch from, avid birders can see different varieties of hawks, owls, swifts, and thrushes — just to name a few. 

Cross Country Skiing and Snowshoeing 

Winter visitors will have many opportunities to journey through fresh powder in the Horse Gulch Trail System. Meadow Loop, Sugar Trail, Horse Gulch Road, and Mike’s Trail are local favorites for cross-country skiers and snowshoers. 

Be aware of avalanche safety and best practices, and remember that mountain slopes are not the only place where avalanches can occur. 

Maps and Site Resources


Travel Tips for Horse Gulch Trail System

  • Bring plenty of water on your journey. 

  • Cell service can be spotty, so tell someone where you plan on going.

  • The sun is much stronger at higher altitudes, so apply and reapply sunscreen liberally every two hours.

  • Keep an eye out for the tree-lodged BMW on your way back toward the trailhead. 

  • Be aware that predators are known to stalk the area at dusk. 


Accessibility Information

  • Narrow trail

  • No access beyond designated access points


Care for Durango

  • Please pack out all trash and waste, including your pet's waste.

  • If you’re biking, 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.

Pledge to Care for Durango