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Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
?
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
5.00 mi (8.05 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

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.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

Not Required

Pros

Easy hike. Beautiful mountain views. Beautiful waterfall.

Cons

Can be crowded in the summer.

Trailhead Elevation

8,754.00 ft (2,668.22 m)

Net Elevation Gain

1,100.00 ft (335.28 m)

Features

Waterfalls
Bird watching
Wildlife
Big vistas

Suitable for

Biking

Location

Field Guide + Map

Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Comments

09/20/2017
Pretty easy hike, but beautiful scenery. If you want to continue up the Wasatch Trail (not far from falls), you'll really get the legs burning and heart rate up. Incredible views on the Wasatch Trail, but be forewarned: it's a lot of switchbacks and your legs will feel it.
This is a great hike! Pretty easy. Great views all the way up. If the wet/snow season has been good you will have a wonderful view of La Junta falls on the way up to your left (east). Up for something even more challenging and rewarding? After reaching the falls keep going up and around them to reach Upper Bear Creek Basin where the Bear Creek starts and produces this waterfall. You'll have spectacular views of the Telluride valley down below. Here's a shot of upper bear creek falls from above La Junta Falls.
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