Animas Mountain is the trail Durango runners love to hate. The six-mile loop climbs to a high point and runs along the circumference of the local hill. No matter which way you cut it, you will run uphill for some 2.5-miles. The trail is rocky and uneven, and requires constant attention. But, for nearly the entire run, you’ll have amazing views of Durango to the South, the Animas River Valley to the North, and the stunning La Plata Mountains to the West. Animas Mountain is a tough, but extremely rewarding run.
What Makes It Great
The 360-degree views of Durango and the surrounding area, combined with an intense feeling of accomplishment, make Animas Mountain a must-do for any trail runner. Most runners take a counter-clockwise direction approach to the loop. From the trailhead, make a right-turn and follow a series of steep switchbacks for about three-quarters of a mile. From there, the trail climbs steadily uphill for another one-and-a-half to two miles.
The views on your right are a worthy excuse to stop for a breather. As you ascend, Durango unfolds below you, and as you trend northward, the Animas River Valley stretches away into the San Juan Mountains. But don’t get too distracted admiring the scenery while jogging because the trail does briefly traverse the top of a cliff.
Along the way, you’ll encounter multiple intersections. If you want to stay on the main route, a good rule of thumb is to always turn right. But there is great signage along the way in case you get lost.
Once you reach the high point, the trail cuts inward and descends to a viewpoint of the La Platas. From here, the rest of your run will be downhill and occasionally steep. When you reach the last intersection above the electrical sub station, make a hard left to descend back to the parking lot.
Who is Going to Love It
Who Is Going to Love It Animas Mountain can certainly be hiked, but if you’re going to run it, the loop is best enjoyed if you’re acclimated and in decent shape. This challenging run is either a great way to push yourself or to add some good hill climbing to your weekly routine. If you’re not in performance mode, don’t let Animas Mountain intimidate you. Plenty of locals will walk/run it on a regular basis. There is very little shade, so it is best enjoyed in the morning or late afternoon and evening.
If you don’t feel like making the entire 6-mile loop, check out one of the maps located at most intersections and create your own route around the mountain.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Animas Mountain is what was formerly known as Animas City, but is now North Durango. From downtown, drive North on 550 and take a left on 32nd St. When the road dead-ends, take a right onto West 4th Ave. and you will soon pull into the main parking lot.
Animas Mountain is closed during the winter season to protect wildlife habitat. The mountain is typically open from April 15th to December 15th, but check the BLM website for this year’s dates.
If you bring your dog, keep in mind that there is no water available on Animas Mountain.