Molas Pass Trail System

Known as the window into the greater backcountry of Colorado, the Molas Pass Trail System is a mighty series of paths, overlooks, and photo opportunities. 

A common access point for the state-spanning Colorado Trail, this trail system can be the start of a daylong or monthlong adventure. More often than not, your only company in this trail system will be the towering Grenadiers and Needles off in the distance. 

Visitors can hike, mountain bike, camp, and backpack during the warmer months. 

In the winter, there are various opportunities for snowmobiling, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing. 

Things to Do in the Molas Pass Trail System


Hiking on Molas Pass During Fall

The 4-mile out-and-back Molas Trail is an excellent trail for high-altitude athletes looking for a short, albeit thrilling plunge into the Weminuche Wilderness. Visitors will find themselves hiking alongside the rolling waters of the Animas River in short order. 

Molas Trail eventually hooks up with the 8.9-mile Elk Creek Trail, one of the most heavily used trails in the Weminuche Wilderness. It snakes along Elk Creek and gains elevation rather quickly. 

Mountain Biking

Mountain Biking on the Colorado Trail During Fall

Mountain bikers will thrill at the opportunity to race down a 1,500-ft descent to Animas River on Molas Trail. Keep in mind that some downhill sections are reasonably technical, with sharp turns and jagged rocks. As you approach the Animas River, the trail evens out, allowing for a gentler ride. 


Backpacking on the Colorado Trail at Molas Pass During Summer | Hans Hollenbeck | Visit Durango

Backpacking is allowed along Molas Trail and Elk Creek Trail, provided that you do not disperse camp within 100 feet of any water source. To that end, you may have to walk off the beaten path to find campsites, as both trails follow the Animas River and Elk Creek, respectively. 

Of course, if you’re feeling adventurous, you could always press on and backpack the Colorado Trail.

Cross Country Skiing and Snowshoeing

Cross Country Skiing at Molas Pass During Winter

Molas Trail and Elk Creek Trail are fantastic spots to find adventure with your trusty skis or snowshoes. This area is deep in the backcountry and prone to avalanches, so be mindful of snow conditions. 

Please educate yourself on avalanche safety and best practices, and remember that mountain slopes are not the only place where avalanches can occur.


It’s true: Molas Pass has some of the best backcountry powder in the State of Colorado. There are groomed trails at Molas Pass just off Highway 550. Provided the roads are clear, visitors can haul their rig out to Molas Pass and enjoy a full day of icy adventure. 

If you do not own a snowmobile, fret not! Pirate Adventures offers regular snowmobile tours in the winter. 

If you own a snowmobile, contact the Silverton Snowmobile Club for more information on snow conditions, group rides, and trails. 

Maps and Site Resources


Travel Tips for the Molas Pass Trail System

  • Stop by Ski Barn to get appropriately kitted for your winter trip!

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

  • If you plan on going into the backcountry, leave an itinerary of your trip with someone you trust. Also, bring a satellite-capable communication device if you can afford it.

  •  Bring plenty of water and food with you.

  • Donate to the Colorado Trail Foundation to preserve this trail system and others for future generations!


Accessibility Information 

  • Pirate Adventures can accommodate most differently-abled people. 


Care for Durango 

  • Know and obey the fire restrictions before heading out.  

  • Purchase a CORSAR card before going out into the backcountry. 

  • 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.  

Pledge to Care for Durango