Looking west from almost any point in town, Hogsback Ridge is plainly visible. Below the looming spires of the La Plata Mountains and a step in front of the cliffs of Perin’s Peak, Hog’s Back brings the high mountain shale to the low alpine foothills. You will be hard pressed to find a local who has not scaled the narrow ridge.
What Makes It Great
The east face is visible from the trailhead with a simple approach and straightforward climb. The vertical section of the climb is not especially long, perhaps 10-15 minutes at a moderate pace, though after the first false summit it may seem unending. The approach, descent and any other loop can add time for those counting miles.
From the trailhead at Leyden take a left crossing a small ditch and staying on the low, winding trail. You may take the first sharp left shortly after the ditch, which will take you up a very steep hill to reach the ridge, but I prefer a longer warm-up. The second trail on the left, a few hundred meters farther up the gulch, is more gradual with several switchbacks through towering ponderosa pines.
From the intersection, at the ridge, proceed uphill to the west. If you find yourself descending at any point in the next few hundred meters, you have gone the wrong way. There is one more obvious fork with a sign, take the right path that begins to appear near vertical.
Continue to climb until you reach the top. Be sure to stand on the rock and take in the spectacular view of the Animas Valley, then look behind to Perin’s Peak and the La Platas for more perspective.
A simple up and back is an option; but in order to complete the loop, go down the backside. It is very steep and rocky with loose dirt, but don’t be surprised to see 10 year olds conquer this section. Proceed quickly and use the roots to grab for balance. Once you reach the moderate ridge, you have the option of a quick descent into the trees on your right or to add an extra loop by continuing down the trail before finding yourself at a short climb. Both trails will take you to the gulch, turn right and follow it down to the car.
The backside of Hogsback is more of a running workout with a short scramble to the top; it is the aforementioned route in reverse. Simply follow the gulch from the trail head at Leyden, a footbridge appears on the left. Cross the bridge and begin the climb through switchbacks and shady trees. You will find yourself on top of the lesser ridge where you can take a left to the scramble section and reach the summit from the west.
Both routes will get your glutes burning and provide a unique view. That evening, when you are enjoying your beer on The Balcony downtown, you can look up Hogsback and know you’ve earned it.
Hogsback and Overend Mountain Park are dog friendly but heavily trafficked with bikes, people and other dogs, maintaining proper trail etiquette and awareness is important.
Who is Going to Love It
Hikers who want a quick workout with great views of Durango.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
There are two main ways to approach and summit Hogsback, though many variations exists. Both routes will find you parking at the west end of Leyden st, reached by turning west on 22nd st from Hwy 550, taking a left onto Crestview and the next right onto Leyden. Follow this street to the end, where there is limited parking.