Tough climbs, fun down hills, playful transitions – Twin Buttes has it all. It’s challenging without the sole crushing, tear inducing technicality of some of Durango’s more famous trails; and the down hills swoop and turn instead of turning into a tight rope walk or a forearm workout.
What Makes It Great
Twin Buttes begins with an abrupt climb and does not level out quickly. Riding to the trailhead from downtown Durango is an easy option allowing for a good warm-up. There is plenty of room on the shoulder of highway and the speed limit for cars does not exceed 45 mph.
The initial section of the trail climbs for five quick switchbacks before leveling out briefly on a service road. Stay left here, climbing gradually for about 50 meters before downshifting for the steep single track on the right. Continue to climb and weave through the scrub oak and ponderosa forest, though beware of two-way traffic with hikers and bikers coming down.
In General, the Twin Buttes trail winds westward. A short swooping downhill with banked switchbacks takes riders down then up a similar construction before leveling out once more on a service road. Veer left then shortly take a right, following the road briefly until single track appears veering uphill on the right bank. Continue on the rolling single track; near the water tower there is a fork in the trail – stay right. You will be returning from the left trail option and have now begun the large loop.
After following the trail through a meadow, the trail begins to level and will arrive at an intersection marked simply “trail”. Follow the single track, unless you wish to bypass the rolling meadow and forego the view of Perin’s Peak, in which case take a left and follow the service road to the second trail on the right. The first trail on the right is where the first loop joins the road.
To continue on to the saddle near the butte, take the single-track option after the meadow and begin climbing immediately. This section is more technical than previous climbs, legs are a bit more tired and rocks are looser. There are 6 switchbacks before high point is reached. Many days, Silver Mountain in the La Platas is visible from this point.
Downshift here and enjoy a rolling respite through the meadow. Cross the service road again and continue down on the single track. Only one new intersection remains. It is marked, however ambiguously, keep left uphill, otherwise the trial leads to housing construction. Continue east across the butte until you reach the aforementioned intersection near the water tower.
From here, the trail back is the same as the trail out, so remain aware of other trail users. Twin Buttes trail is dog friendly, but there are no bags provided at the trailhead. Like most Durango trails, biking is more popular but runners and hikers use the trail as well.
Who is Going to Love It
Riders looking for a fun day without a huge time commitment.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
To reach the trailhead, turn west onto highway 160 from its intersection with highway 550. Turn right into the Giant gas station and drive to the dirt lot in back. Parking is free and no permit is required, however you may be sharing space with some of Animas High School’s students if school is in session. (At the time this article was written, this was dubbed “temporary parking”, however the permanence has not changed in the prior 2 years).