Telluride Hike to Bear Creek Falls

Updated: Sep 26

After a particularly hairy and sketchy Jeep adventure over Black Bear Pass this morning, we continued into Telluride, Colorado, where we parked, had another tailgate lunch, and reunited a lost dog with its owner.


While we were enjoying a quick PB&J lunch at the Jeep parked along the side of a dead-end street, a lone dog came trotting down the middle of the road. We weren't certain from which direction it came, but it definitely exhibited an air of confidence that it knew where it was going.


We kind of chuckled in disbelief and looked around to see if there was an obvious owner nearby. And we watched other puzzled pedestrians (and drivers) take pause, looking around for an owner. One woman, while carrying two large to-go coffee cups, tried to coax the dog to come to her, attempting to take hold of its collar while juggling her beverages, but the dog was not impressed with this stranger's approach and successfully evaded her grasp (and her hot coffee).


Once the dog reached the next intersection, it just kind of stopped and then turned around to look back at its path toward the trailhead. The dog did not proceed any farther. Just then, I heard what I thought was someone yelling from up on the trail. So I took off in a sprint up the dirt to see if I could meet up with the yeller and find out if they were looking for a dog.


Sure enough. Wiley old "Loretta" was out on a hike with her momma and canine sibling, and halfway, she up and decided she was going to turn around and head home. The perturbed owner explained to me that they live about a block and half away from the trailhead, so Loretta knew exactly where she was going, but she said it was unlike Loretta to simply take off alone like that.


I then realized that Loretta had stopped at that intersection and was, in fact, looking back to see when her owner and pup friend would appear. Dogs are funny.


After the reunion, we proceeded to hike up the woodsy dirt trail to Bear Creek Falls.



And by "up," I mean climbing over 1,000 vertical feet in less than 2.5 miles to the base of the falls. After all of the Jeep riding the past few days, I wanted to give myself a little physical challenge. I made it to the top in less than 50 minutes, pausing a couple of times to take photos and videos along the route.


The trail offers incredible views of the surrounding mountain ridges, and I even spotted some wildflowers and random berries.





A small "lookout" along the trail gives a sneak peek of Bear Creek.



About halfway up the trail, I thought I heard thunder. With darker clouds in the sky, it definitely seemed plausible. Shortly after, I even felt a few small raindrops and I wondered what this was going to turn into. With my husband and his uncle coming up the trail behind me a ways while I raced up, I suddenly wished we had brought the walkie-talkies with us from the Jeep on this hike. I considered stopping and waiting for them to catch up to me to decide if we felt safe continuing given the weather conditions, but ultimately I chose to proceed and hope for the best.


In the last, maybe, 1/4-mile of the hike to the falls, the trail gets steeper, rockier, and substantially narrower with trees, tall bushes, and nettles(!) imposing both sides of the trail. This dramatic change in the terrain did slow me down some, but I forged on as best I could.


While hiking through this thicker section of the trail, I was glad I wore hiking pants rather than shorts, even though it was pretty warm out and hiking up this trail made it feel even warmer. Because I'll probably never forget the first time my skin came in contact with nettles.


I was probably 7 or 8 years old, at my grandparents' old farmhouse in Wisconsin ("the ranch" we called it), and it was one of those hot, sticky summer afternoons when the majority of the cousins converged and the adults set up card tables to play euchre for hours after dinner. But before it got dark outside, all of the cousins were making the most of it, playing some kind of game together in the backyard. The ball we were using sailed over a fence and, not missing a beat, I ran behind to retrieve it from the thick, green brush along the rickety, overgrown fence. Moments later, my hands were on fire. I didn't even know what had hit me. Needless to say, I was glad I had pants on for this hike.


The final stretch to the falls was probably the most challenging of all, but once I cut through the thick brush and it opened up to this amazing, layered rock wall with a lovely falls cascading down into the canyon below, it made the tough worth it.



I walked around and took some photos while I waited for the other two to arrive.






And looking down into the lush, green canyon where the creek flowed from the falls was an incredible sight.





We hung around a little while longer at the falls, but with the weather turning kind of iffy, and my husband's aunt waiting for us in town, we decided to head back down.


On the way, we began to feel some sporadic raindrops again. We reached the trailhead and decided we'd all walk to the downtown area to see what there was to see, stopping in a few souvenir shops and the like. Suddenly, the rain came. We sought shelter in a breezeway between storefronts until the rain let up after several minutes.


On our walk back to the Jeep, we crossed paths with a "gang" of about 10 shirtless 7-year-olds walking in formation on the sidewalk, headed for downtown. We greeted them as if this behavior was perfectly normal. They politely returned the greeting and acted as if they weren't half-dressed in public. It was quite hilarious to us.


At any rate, this was a wonderful, albeit short, hike. A good amount of challenge with a great payoff at the end. It would be amazing to see the falls earlier in the season, too.



Bear Creek Falls

Total Distance

4.94 mi

Total Time

2:00:53

Total Ascent

1,014 ft

Max Elevation

9,823 ft


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