It’s not called Skyline for nothing. This 9-mile loop, which also includes Raider Ridge and the Powerline Trail, soars above Durango for unobstructed 360-degree views. But, like all good things, you’ve got to work for it.
It’s not called Skyline for nothing. This 9-mile loop, which also includes Raider Ridge and the Powerline Trail, soars above Durango for unobstructed 360-degree views. But, like all good things, you’ve got to work for it. The Skyline Trail sees nearly 850ft of elevation gain before you hit the money on Raiders Ridge. This quickly becomes a technical mountain bike track that requires your constant attention – not just for loose rocks and sudden drop-offs, but also for rattlesnakes basking in the hot sun overhead. If you’re looking for a fun and challenging workout with lots of climbing, this is it.
What Makes It Great
Note: Must Love Switchbacks. From the small parking area at the back of the Skyridge subdivision, begin your climb. The first 1.7 miles is almost predominantly comprised of switchbacks, affording some amazing views of the mesa and reservoir below. This first section of trail is fairly even underfoot and offers quite a bit of shade before you hit the top of the ridge. When you reach the top, the trail doubles back on itself before turning into the Raiders Ridge Trail. There’s an unofficial track that branches off to the north, so be sure to trend south on the main trail.
Once on Raiders Ridge, you’ll begin a long and rocky descent. There are several spots with lookouts for views of Horse Gulch on your left and Durango on your right. There’s very little shade up here, so schedule your workout for the early morning or late afternoon on hot days. All in all, you’ll descend a little over a thousand feet before hitting the bottom. Watch out for mountain bikers bouncing over the sandstone boulders.
The trail makes a hard right and will soon intersect with Powerline (also on your right). Follow Powerline back to the Skyline Trail, some 2.5 miles away. Powerline follows (you guessed it) a power line running parallel to the Skyridge subdivision. When you hit Skyline, hang a left and follow it back down to the carpark.
Who is Going to Love It
This 9-mile loop is not for first-time trail runners, as it involves a significant amount of climbing and requires confidence and experience on uneven terrain. That said, it’s a great workout offering the kind of views and challenges you never get tired of. If you’re travelling from low elevations, it’s best to spend a day or two acclimatizing before attempting this run.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From downtown Durango, head up College Drive toward Fort Lewis College. Stay straight through the roundabout, and then take a quick right onto Jenkins Ranch Road. This will take you through one of Durango’s nicer neighborhoods, with several more roundabouts and kid-zones. Stay on Jenkins Ranch until it dead-ends at several private drives. There is a small carpark on your right adjacent to the trailhead. Alternately, if you want to add half a mile to your run, park on Ball Lane (just off Florida Road on the north end of town) and run up the dirt road to reach Jenkins Ranch Road from the opposite side.