Bear Creek Falls Hike


San Juan Mountains, Colorado

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Bear Creek Falls Hike


  • The trail starts at the end of South Pine Street, downtown Telluride.- Bear Creek Falls Hike
  • Sun and reflection over the San Miguel River.- Bear Creek Falls Hike
  • The welcome sign to the Bear Creek Preserve reads, “We are each one of us the stewards of this land.”- Bear Creek Falls Hike
  • As the leaves fall, beautiful rocky peaks are revealed along the trail.- Bear Creek Falls Hike
  • Aspen groves color the slopes on either side of the trail.- Bear Creek Falls Hike
  • Rock cairns in a meadow about half way up the trail.- Bear Creek Falls Hike
  • Frost in a crisp fall morning.- Bear Creek Falls Hike
  • Yellow aspen leaves carpet spots of the trail in mid-October.- Bear Creek Falls Hike
  • Moss-covered rocks at the base on Bear Creek Falls.- Bear Creek Falls Hike
  • Underwater in the creek.- Bear Creek Falls Hike
  • Wet rock at the base of the waterfall makes a perfect environment for moss.- Bear Creek Falls Hike
  • The sun rises over Bear Creek Falls very late in the morning in fall.- Bear Creek Falls Hike
  • Aside from the waterfall itself, there is a lot of water in the surrounding mountain.- Bear Creek Falls Hike
  • View of the rocky peaks north of Telluride from the trail.- Bear Creek Falls Hike
  • A hiker crosses an aspen grove in the fall.- Bear Creek Falls Hike
  • The Wasatch Trail continues up the mountain.- Bear Creek Falls Hike
  • Generally gentle slopes make this hike quite comfortable.- Bear Creek Falls Hike
  • Fall reflections.- Bear Creek Falls Hike
Overview + Weather
Easy hike. Beautiful mountain views. Beautiful waterfall.
Can be crowded in the summer.
San Juan Mountains, CO
Pets allowed: 
Net Elevation Gain: 
1,100.00 ft (335.28 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Biking
Total Distance: 
5.00 mi (8.05 km)
Trail type: 
Trailhead Elevation: 
8,754.00 ft (2,668.22 m)
Current Local Weather:
Hike Description

Hike Description

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The Bear Creek Falls hike leads through a beautiful area with wonderful views of the town of Telluride and the rocky peaks to the north. Aspen groves along the way color the trail in fall. This 5-mile round-trip hike nets 1,100 feet of elevation gain and rewards visitors with terrific perspectives on the 80-foot Bear Creek Falls.

The trail starts right off South Pine Street in downtown Telluride. Parking can be difficult at times, especially in the summer, thus it is often better to park at the Mountain Village and ride the free gondola to town (note seasonal closures, especially at the end of the fall season, before the ski season begins). The trail begins immediately after you cross the bridge over the San Miguel River and enter the Bear Creek Preserve.  The preserve covers 320 acres of Bear Creek Canyon, and it was established in 1995 through a partnership between the Town of Telluride and the San Miguel Conservation Foundation.

The broad path follows the creek south for just over 2.5 miles.  While most people hike the trail, some choose to jog or mountain bike. Some spots offer great views of the creek and the ragged rock peaks to the east and south. About half way up, as the creek bends and the trail opens into a beautiful meadow, people have made many rock cairns by balancing rocks into small towers and arches.

In fall the trail is in the shade for most of the morning, which can be great, but make sure to dress appropriately. There are a couple of smaller falls along the way, but the 80-foot-tall waterfalls, with moss-covered rocks at the base, are the prize after the hike up. The Wasatch Trail continues, though, and it is possible to cross the pass and get to the small mountain town of Ophir. After the hike back to town, there are plenty of options to grab a bite or a drink.

Join the effort to protect these places

Conservation Colorado has worked with communities around the state for over 50 years in pursuit of its mission - to protect Colorado’s environment and quality of life by mobilizing people and electing conservation-minded policymakers. It fights to protect the air, land, water, and people of Colorado. Their collaborative approach and focus on electing pro-conservation officials has yielded successes in addressing climate change, supporting clean energy development, conserving water resources, and protecting our public wildlands and rivers.

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Field Guide + Trail Map

Field Guide + Trail Map

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Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(10 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(37 within a 30 mile radius)

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