Wasatch Trail - Hiking

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About

Summary

Telluridians spend all spring waiting for this high-alpine gem to melt out. It’s a massive, strenuous climb up to the high country from town, but the payoff is equally huge: cascading waterfalls, wildflowers galore, and a landscape bathed in all elements that define Colorado’s high country.

Written by

Yitka Winn

Distance

9.0 miles

There is a 9 mile loop and a 17 mile loop.

Destination Distance From Downtown

0.0 miles

Difficulty

5 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

6 hours

5-7 hours for the 9 mile loop.

Seasonality

Summer

July to September

Dog Friendly

Yes

Fees Permits

No

Topographical Map

Wasatch Trail Map

Land Website

Wasatch Trail

Review

Intro

The Wasatch Trail can be connected to a number of different high-alpine trails just outside of Telluride—so, depending on your mood and how much time you have available, the possibilities are endless. Bring a map to help you pick your route; most intersections, but not all, are marked.

What Makes It Great

To reach the Wasatch Trail, first hike for two miles on the Bear Creek Trail. The junction with Wasatch, on your right-hand side shortly before reaching Bear Creek Falls, is marked with a small, wooden sign. Begin climbing immediately, crisscrossing over trickling streams and through forested stretches on steep switchbacks.

Soon, you’ll be paralleling the upper stretches of Bear Creek, cascading down through granite and fields of wildflowers. Cross an old bridge and enjoy feeling exceptionally small in the grand landscape of this sweeping basin. Snow lingers long into July here, but plenty of summer foot and bike traffic keeps the route easy to follow. (This section of the trail is also part of the esteemed Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run every July, helping link Telluride to Silverton.)

After just over a mile, you’ll come to a clear intersection between the west and east forks of the Wasatch Trail. Hang a right to make your way to the Wasatch Connection and See Forever Trails the pass through the ski area and complete a nine-mile loop when you reach the top of the gondola—to return to town from there, you can ride the gondola (for free!), or run the approximately two miles down Telluride Trail.

For an even more ambitious loop of approximately 17 miles, stay left at the intersection to take the scrambly, steep East Fork Trail to the 13,000-foot high point at the top of the basin. Keep an eye out for cairns to help you find your route. At the saddle, go left on the well-signed Blixt Road. Follow an old mining road northeast down through Bridal Veil Basin until you reach the top of Bridal Veil Falls—Colorado’s tallest free-falling waterfall, at 365 feet. Follow the jeep-road switchbacks all the way back down to the floor of the box canyon and walk the dirt trail paralleling the road for a couple miles to return to town.

Start early in the day to avoid getting caught above treeline in afternoon thunderstorms. There’s ample water along this route, so pack a portable water filter if you want free refills throughout the day!

Who is Going to Love It

Ambitious hikers itching to experience some of Colorado’s finest high country—who aren’t afraid of a little route finding along the way.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

The Wasatch Trail is located about two miles up the Bear Creek Trail. From town, head south on Pine Street, where a gravel doubletrack trail leading up into the woods will take you to the Bear Creek Trail. The trailhead itself has no parking lot, but street parking in town is available within a block or two.

Note: many streets in Telluride are limited to two-hour parking, so be wary of these restrictions—or seek free, all-day parking at the Carhenge Lot on the southwest corner of town, off West Pacific Ave. From the Carhenge lot, you can walk along the wide, flat River Trail that parallels the San Miguel River and reach the Bear Creek trailhead in about a half-mile.

Location

Wasatch Trail

Telluride, CO,
37.937494, -107.812285

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