Memorial Day weekend in Colorado was windy: gale force, hurricane force, batten down the hatches windy. We were south of Telluride at our family cabin and at 10,000 feet, it was cold. So on Sunday morning, when the winds had calmed to a mellow 20 mph (calm?) we needed to get out, get moving and get warmed up.
The trail we chose that day, the Bear Creek Trail, is no secret. In fact, it could be the most popular trail in Telluride. Open to hikers and mountain bikers, it’s also a great five-mile run. The first time we hiked it, our son alternated between backpack and baby steps. More than a decade later, it’s still a family favorite. Here’s why:
1. Convenience. The Bear Creek trail leaves right from Telluride — the south end of Pine Street, to be exact. This is especially good for families with kids. When you finally get everyone on board for a hike, who wants to sit in the car? Kids don’t.
2. Ease. A dual-track jeep road until the last 500 yards or so, the footing is easy, there is room to run around and pass other hikers (or let them pass you — you need never feel like your little person is holding up traffic), and let the dogs run. The footing is mostly flat and the incline is slight. Although by the time you reach Upper Bear Creek Falls, you’ll have gained 1,050 feet.
3. Payoff. While there is no pot-of-gold at the end of this trail, there are sometimes rainbows shimmering in the mist from the waterfall. The trail gets steeper, narrower and a bit more difficult near the falls, but you can hike up close to the water, and in spring, the remaining snow. It’s beautiful!
And, even if you or your kids don’t want to commit to the entire five-mile round trip, there is another natural stopping point about 1.75 miles in: views of another waterfall cascading down the side of the canyon and lots of big flat rocks upon which to rest, soak up the sun and picnic. Right now, there is even a collection of rock cairns being built and rebuilt along a log and upon other rocks. It’s community art in action. Our younger son was so intrigued by the cairns that he stopped here and built some more while we continued on.
In the end, everyone was happy, satisfied and warm. Family perfect, yes?
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