The Missionary Ridge Trail System offers lofty, commanding views of the Animas River Valley—and it’s only 10 miles from Durango. The top of the trail system is home to a sprawling Aspen and Gambel Oak forest that is gorgeous in the fall.
The trail system offers five trails spanning a range of difficulties: from intermediate to advanced. Each trail has its particular flare that backcountry enthusiasts will appreciate.
Visitors can hike, mountain bike, camp, backpack, go off-roading, and climb.
Visitors can snowshoe and cross country ski the trail system’s various ridges and glades in the winter.
There are five hiking trails in the Missionary Ridge Trail system: Steven’s Creek Trail, Haflin Creek Trail, Red Creek Trail, First Fork Trail, and Missionary Ridge Trail.
For a more leisurely hike, check out the 4.4-mile Red Creek Trail.
For a challenging trek, the 9-mile Missionary Ridge Trail is the surest bet for thrillseekers and endurance athletes.
The Missionary Trail System is multi-use and allows bikes in addition to foot traffic. The San Juan Mountains and the Florida River Valley views are spectacular, but be mindful of the felled trees in the 2002 Missionary Ridge Fire burn area.
Mountain bikers are particularly fond of Heflin Creek Trail, which has nearly 3,000 feet of elevation gain.
After driving 3.6 miles on Missionary Ridge Road, dispersed camping and boondocking are allowed. RVs are not recommended in this area. There are no campgrounds or amenities in the area, so bring ample food and water for your trip.
The best, most accessible trail in the winter is the 3.5-mile First Fork Trail. No trails are groomed, but they are heavily trafficked.
Be aware of avalanche safety and best practices, and remember that mountain slopes are not the only place where avalanches can occur.
Missionary Ridge Road is open for OHV and Off-Roading in the spring, summer, and fall. The best time to go is late spring or early summer to avoid monsoons.
Do not engage in mudding or creating donuts on the roads. OHV or off-road at night at your own risk.
During hunting season, wear hunter orange when hiking, camping, or biking in the trail system.
Be mindful of the fallen trees near the 2002 Missionary Ridge Fire burn area.
Let out some tire pressure before driving up to the Missionary Ridge Trail system trailheads, as jagged rocks can puncture tires.
Be mindful of strong smells that emanate from your food or clothes, as these might attract predators.
Do not leave any flames unattended when dispersed camping.
Know and obey the fire restrictions before heading out.
Do not disperse camp within 100 feet of any water source.
Please pack out all trash and waste, including your pet's waste.
Protect fragile alpine environments and stay on marked trails.
Follow Leave No Trace (LNT) principles.
Do not pick the wildflowers.
Do not engage with or feed the wildlife.
Dogs must be leashed or otherwise physically restrained. Do not leave pets unattended.
Store your food in a designated bear cache, vault, or hang.