USA | Telluride Trek: The Switzerland of America


  • Telluride, Colorado
  • Telluride, Colorado in the fall
  • Ouray, Colorado
  • Lizardhead pass Telluride, Colorado
  • Telluride, Colorado hiking trail
  • Telluride meadow
  • San Juan Mountains
  • Trail near Telluride, CO

Trip Highlights:

  • Hike remote trails with beautiful aspen groves to high alpine passes with endless views.
  • Breathe the rarified Rocky Mountain air as you hike remote trails beneath 14,000-foot peaks in the Colorado high country.
  • Indulge in pleasures from the Old West, from Victorian hotels and saloons to ghost towns left over from the gold mining days.

Majestic snow capped peaks, expansive alpine meadows, tumbling waterfalls, and charming Victorian hotels beckon hikers to explore the San Juan Mountains of Southwestern Colorado; home of Ryder- Walker Alpine Adventures. From bubbling hot springs and historic hotels, to the outposts of bank robbers and miners gone “mad”, Colorado mountains over a mother lode of scenic hikes and colorful towns.

Ryder-Walker’s hiking adventure offers an exciting exploration of the region’s most spectacular trails. From remote valleys filled with beautiful Aspen groves to high alpine passes replete with endless views, we hike beneath the shadows of the resident fourteen thousand-foot peaks as we thread our way through the San Juan mountains. Hiking days are as challenging as you wish, and the scenery is breathtaking. At the end of the day a comfortable bed, hot shower, good meal, glass of local wine or beer, and the company of other mountain enthusiasts awaits. Photographers from around the world descend upon the San Juan ranges to capture the spectacular hues, whether as a backdrop to budding alpine flowers in spring or in autumn when the aspens leaves change to gold.

Our tour begins in the charming mining town of Ouray. Of course, the miners have traded in their pickaxes for trekking poles, but the town has a time forgotten ambiance. Superb hiking and restaurants make for an unforgettable mix. Ouray boasts great hiking variety as well as the most colorful and varied geology in the Rockies. From Ouray, hike into world renowned Telluride. The trails between the towns remain largely untraveled, and you won’t have to share the trails or the views with many other parties. The route lies along quiet mountain paths, with some optional rough and remote sections, and spectacular views of the surrounding peaks as trails climb to high passes. We follow abandoned Native American and mining routes, and traverse along streams beneath the shade of aspen, spruce, and fir trees.

Along the way, we have selected the most comfortable and atmospheric hotels in both towns. Accommodations range from our turn of the century hotel in Ouray, that reportedly hosted presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover, to exquisite modern mountain accommodations in Telluride. Each hotel reflects the charm and character of its location and the simplicity of days past.

Trip Itinerary

Choose from our standard itinerary or customize the trek by adding or subtracting days.

Drive to Ouray. Settle into a superior, historic four- star hotel located in the center of this beautiful and colorful town.

Hike the newly assembled Ouray Perimeter Trail. We say assembled as the trail connects many preexisting sections of trail and rights of way to create a 360-degree circuit around and high above this charming town. Walk through a living museum of mining, geology and cowboy history as well as visiting many of the waterfalls the town is famed for. Spend the night in Ouray.

Distance: 6.5 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 1600 ft.

Depart Ouray towards Telluride driving through the charming town of Ridgeway. Along the way is the turn to the Blue Lakes trailhead. Enjoy the scenic 9 mile drive from the highway to the trailhead with spectacular views of Mt. Sneffels. Wander through Engelmann spruce forests on the way to the lower lake all the while the trail climbs up the valley between Mt. Sneffels 14,150 feet and Wolcott Mountain 13,041 feet.

Distance: 8.6 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 2370 ft.

Alpine Lake Day! You will drive to the remote vacation community of Trout Lake. The Hidden Lake road accesses the Hope Lake trailhead. Start with a fantastic traverse offering breathtaking views of Sheep Mountain and San Miguel Peak. Reach the head of the valley and enjoy well-manufactured switchbacks up to the gorgeous Hope Lake. For a little extra credit ascend to the South Mineral Creek Pass for views down toward Silverton.

Distance: 8 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 1500 ft.

Today enjoy the Wasatch Trail. Ascend the pristine and amazing Bear Creek to near Bear Creek Falls. Branch off onto the Wasatch Trail which ascends to East Bear Creek Basin. Continue to climb on gentle switchbacks to the Gold Hill ridge (part of the Telluride Ski Resort) and descend to the San Sophia Gondola station for a quick ride back into town.

Distance: 7 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 1600/3800 ft.

This is a spectacular, high elevation loop with expansive views over the Lizard Head Wilderness, and the Wilson range. The views are among the best in the area. The trail crosses through sub-alpine forest of aspen and conifers and meadows with mountain wildflowers, and climbs into a high alpine environment with dwarfed, tundra-like vegetation. One highlight of the hike is gaining the top of Black Face, the long, low ridge that you can see from the trailhead, and traversing right under the imposing tower of Lizard Head, which at just over 13,000 ft. is one of Colorado’s most technical peaks.

Distance: Up to 10 miles. Elevation gain/loss: up to 2800 ft.

There is an option to shorten the hike today by takingan alternate trail that branches off along the waytaking you to a beautiful picnic spot called WilsonMeadow.

Distance: 4.4 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 1479 ft.

The last day of the trek will be spent hiking in the Telluride region. The majestic San Juan Mountains offer countless hiking trails for all levels.

This is Ryder-Walker’s backyard and we have chosen three favorite hikes for you to pick from.

Distance: from 3.1 miles up to 10 miles. Elevation gain/ loss: from 510 ft. up to 2800 ft. depending on what trek you choose.

Telluride Trek: The Switzerland of America | USA

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