The Animas River Trail is a paved promenade that runs seven miles north-to-south following the Animas River and slicing through the heart of town. In typical Durango fashion, the path is a training and bike-commuter lifeline and in the winter it is often plowed and de-iced before the roads.
What Makes It Great
Those who claim Durango doesn’t have any easy runnin’ have their heads stuck in the surrounding San Juans. Down-to-earth and planted smack dab in downtown, the Animas River Trail is the everyman’s training ground. This smooth, concrete haven traverses the entire city, hitting nearly every park the city has to offer (including a kayak park, BMX park, skate park, and dog park) along the way.
For those looking to know how far and fast they are moving, mileage markers begin at Rotary Park and denote every half mile heading south. Luckily the markers are small brass circles inlaid in the pavement and are easy to miss if you—like the author--are the type of runner who likes to tick off the miles without constant reminders of how far you’ve traveled.
Who is Going to Love It
This greenway is more than just a trail, it is a way of life, and it is bustling with activity at all hours of the day, from bike commuters to endurance junkies to wild-eyed mothers pushing strollers faster than Oprah can run a marathon. Durangatangs—cheapskate, VO2-maximists that they are wont to be—pound this pavement so regularly that the penny-pinching proletariat even voted to implement a half-cent sales tax to maintain their beloved path.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
The Animas River Trail is easy to find, just look for the river and you will find the path. The terminus is located at Memorial Park at 32nd street behind North City Market, and is a popular point of entry where there is plenty of street side parking. At Santa Rita Park (at the intersection of El Camino and Santa Rita) there is a large parking lot with bathrooms and water fountains—but be warned, the facilities close for the winter. Santa Rita is an ideal place to park, complete with grassy fields for post-run stretching and located right beside Smelter rapid, where at high water you can cheer for boaters as they yard sale through the icy waters.
The path has spotty wheelchair accessibility and is leashed-dog friendly. Established trail etiquette is enforced with tongue-lashings from locals, but you heard it here first on RootsRated: bikes yield to everyone, runners yield to walkers, walkers reign supreme.