5 Awesome After-Work Adventures in Durango

Horse Gulch is just one of many after-work delights in Durango.
Horse Gulch is just one of many after-work delights in Durango. Margaret Hedderman
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When 5 o'clock rolls around, don’t get stuck lifting dumbbells and running on the treadmill when there's a giant outdoor playground at your fingertips. Durango offers a head-spinning array of trails, routes, bouldering problems, and singletrack great for shaking off the stresses of the day. Here, five awesome after-work adventures in Durango. Your only task? Figuring out which one you want to do first.

1.  Trail Run: Horse Gulch

Feel like going long or short? Need a hill workout or a leisurely jog through the meadow? Horse Gulch aka the Telegraph Trails System offers a myriad of terrain types for trail runners (and mountain bikers) to explore. From the trailhead on East 8 th Ave., jog past the gate and up Horse Gulch Road. This is like the main artery of the trail system, with numerous capillaries branching out into the arid gulch. Most of the trails are circular and can be combined for long or short loops with plenty of options to climb up and above the gulch for some spectacular views. It’s generally hot and offers little to no shade, so plan your run for 6 pm or later in the summer.

2. Hiking: The Colorado Trail, Junction Creek

A few miles on the last section of the Colorado Trail is a great way to banish stress.
A few miles on the last section of the Colorado Trail is a great way to banish stress. Maggie Casey

Perfect for hot summer afternoons, this final segment of the 486-mile Colorado Trail is a short drive from town and offers shade and coolness as it follows the swiftly moving Junction Creek. In other words, it's the perfect antidote to a stressful day at the office. Ditch work early enough, and you might have time to hike up to Gudy’s Rest (an 8-mile round trip) for big views of the Animas Valley. The trail is well maintained and trafficked, so it also makes for a nice evening hike if you want to bring the family or four-legged friends along.

  3. Bouldering: Turtle Lake

Turtle Lake is an ideal spot for some after-work time on the rock.
Turtle Lake is an ideal spot for some after-work time on the rock. Margaret Hedderman

With next to no approach, you can climb at Turtle Lake until it’s time to pull out the headlamps. This excellent sandstone bouldering “gym” offers almost 90 problems ranging from V0 to V11. Hidden under the cover of scrub oak, Turtle Lake has plenty of shade for those hot afternoons. (There’s also a smattering of relatively unused sport and trad routes on the cliffs at the back.) Turtle Lake is great for climbers of all levels, with an even distribution of problems for beginners and the more advanced.

4. Mountain Biking: Test Tracks

Hop on your bike, hit the trail, and those TPS reports will soon be a distant memory.
Hop on your bike, hit the trail, and those TPS reports will soon be a distant memory. Chauncey Davis

Though it's recently been renamed Overend Mountain Park, locals still lovingly refer to this excellent trail system as Test Tracks. Ask a local biker or runner about Test Tracks, and they’ll tell you it’s one of their favorite afternoon rides or runs. This is a true playground for mountain bikers with bridges, berms, and jumps. A relatively small trail system at only 300 acres, Test Tracks features a maze of single-tracks winding tightly around the base of the Hogsback, Durango’s iconic skeletal ridgeline. The trails can seem convoluted, with plenty of unofficial connector paths, but there are plenty of maps posted at major intersections, so it’s hard to get lost.

  5. Sport Climbing: Fume Wall

Don't let its name deter you: Fume Wall is a great spot to get climbing quickly.
Don't let its name deter you: Fume Wall is a great spot to get climbing quickly. Margaret Hedderman

Fume Wall is vastly under-appreciated and often criticized, in part because of its location directly above U.S. 550 (thus, inspiring its name.) But, for 9-5ers who want get their hands on some real rock, Fume Wall is a gift from above (well, technically and geologically, it’s a gift from below). With 18 routes between 5.6 and 5.12, this is a fantastic area for lead climbers of all levels. Eastern-facing Fume Wall is in full shade for much of the afternoon and offers a welcome respite from the hot, summer sun (unlike Golf Wall, which gets blasted in the afternoons). A 20-minute drive from town and a five-minute approach, Fume Walls is accessible enough to have you can be away from the desk and on the rock in half an hour.

 

 

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