Top 5 Scenic Hiking Trails on the Western Slope
Stunning Day Hikes on Colorado’s Western Slope
Colorado’s Western Slope is full of stunning day hikes. Take advantage of the warm spring and early summer weather on one of the top trails — here are some of the most scenic hiking trails along the Western Slopes.
But, be warned: reading about these trails will have you reaching for your hiking boots and Camelbak before you even get to the comments section.
Where is the Western Slope?
If you’re unfamiliar with Colorado’s Western Slope, figuring out where and what it is is simple. “Western Slope” refers to everything west of the Continental Divide. This includes the stunning San Juan mountains, Glenwood Springs, Telluride, and other well-known mountain towns.
If you want solitude this trail isn’t the place to go. It’s incredibly popular, but once you see it for yourself you’ll understand why. Waterfalls cascade into a crystal clear turquoise lake nestled inside Glenwood Canyon — you’ll almost forget the strenuous uphill climb that was necessary to reach the lake.
The trail is 1.2 miles out-and-back, and you’ll want to bring plenty of water and patience. Arriving early is important, especially on summer weekends, and dogs aren’t allowed on the trail.
Often called the “Switzerland of America,” the small mountain town of Ouray has unbeatable charm… and plenty of scenic hiking. Hiking the town’s Perimeter Trail is a 4.2 mile round trip endeavor, with 800 feet of elevation gain. You’ll be surrounded by ragged mountain peaks and will get some lovely views of the town below.
The 4.2 mile one-way hike to Telluride’s infamous Bridal Veil Falls is well worth the distance, and the 1,650 elevation gain you’ll have to trek. The falls are 365 feet long, and are the tallest free falling waterfalls in Colorado.
This will be a long day hike, so make sure to pack plenty of water, snacks, and other necessities.
National parks get a lot of attention, but Colorado is also home to some fantastic state parks. If you’re in the mood for more waterfalls Rifle Falls State Park is certainly worth a visit. The park is especially enjoyable for families with small children or non-hikers. There’s a mere 70 foot change in elevation on these trails, and each of the park’s three trails are 1.5 to 2 miles in total round trip distance. Ambitious hikers can easily hike all of the trails in a day.
5. Crystal Creek Trail, Curecanti National Recreation Area
The Curecanti National Rec Area is located in between Gunnison and Crawford. The area’s namesake reservoir is a water lover’s dream, but the hiking is equally excellent. This particular trail is a moderately difficult, 3.2 mile round trip hike.
From high above the water, you’ll earn impressive views over Crystal Lake. As you hike along the rim of the Black Canyon you’ll also snag some sweeping views of the West Elk range, the Cimarron Valley, and the San Juan mountains.