Hiking & Biking Trails
Wild Blue Yonder
Amid peaks, valleys, mesas, hills and 360-degree panoramic views, the Telluride area is ideal for spending a summer day on the green. Golfing around here is an utter treat and extremely popular among locals and visitors, alike. The Telluride Golf Club is one of the highest courses in the world at 9,300 feet above sea level. The 6,719-yard course is a par-71 with a slope of 130. There is a full-service pro shop, professional instruction and a halfway house lunch spot on Hole 9. Keep in mind altitude is a major factor when golfing in the mountains. The sun is stronger so bring plenty of sunscreen and water. The air is thinner so getting from hole to hole is a little more tiring. Thinner air also means the ball travels faster and farther than it would at sea level. Tee times book quickly so plan ahead. Contact the Telluride Golf Club at (970) 728-7320.
Fly Fishing hounds get ready because in the immediate Telluride area there are two exceptional rivers that beckon the flyfisherman-the small stream of the Dolores and the mighty San Miguel. Both freestone streams, the foliage extends to the water’s edge, bringing more insects to the fish, thus-creating an angler’s adventure. With Mother Nature, make sure to follow some guidelines. Don’t trespass on private properties; give plenty of room between you and the next fisherman; and practice responsible catch-and-release tactics in order to preserve the fisheries. Fishing licenses may be purchased at fly-fishing or outdoor stores.
For the adrenaline without the pedalin’, the jeep roads are a great way to see the beauty of the area and cover many miles in the process. When 4 x 4 driving, remember altitude is still a factor. Bring plenty of water, sun protection and head out with a full tank of gasoline. Remember to tread lightly, drive only on designated roads, pack-out what you pack-in and respect private property-i.e. all historic mining towns. Rules of the off-road are, uphill vehicles have the right-of-way, but don’t count on the other guy knowing that. It’s wise to bring a cell phone and tell people when you expect to return.
Telluride may be far from the ocean, but water sports are aplenty around here. Between kayaking and whitewater rafting, it’s easy to get some splash-time. Major rivers in the area include the San Miguel, which originates in Telluride, the Dolores, Animas and the Gunnison. Sections vary in degrees of difficulty from mellow paddling for the beginner, to surging whitewater for the expert. Numerous outfits offer guided raft trips, but if you’re exploring alone be sure to inquire as to where to go as well as how fast and high the waters are flowing.
Considering horses were once the most surefire mode of transportation in the San Juans, riding in the Telluride area is sensational. The terrain is rated high mountain adventurous by local experts, with steep winding trails, many of them covering long distances. Although beginners can get out in the saddle, most of the riding options are best suited for those with significant levels of experience. Several outfitters are available for hire and are experienced at customizing the perfect horseback riding adventure. Whether you prefer to explore alone or with the entire family, the experience is exceptional. Day trips are standard, yet overnight, camping excursions are also popular. To those traveling with their horses, remember the four-legged beasts of burden are like humans. At this elevation, they need to acclimate properly and stay sufficiently hydrated. Don’t rush your horse into the high country too hastily.
If speed is your gig, get on a mountain bike. The San Juans have a bunch of mountain bike trails from rolling dirt roads to steep and technical single-tracks. Most combine heavily wooded sections with open clearings, so riders may get a respite from the summer sun but also soak in views of the 360-degree peak-studded skyline. For the most part, rides in and around Telluride include an uphill and a downhill so be prepared to be out of breath especially at this altitude. Mountain bikers should make sure to have helmets, plenty of water, tire repair kits, snacks and rain/cold weather gear. Biking gloves are also a nice accompaniment.
For those looking to catch some air this summer, rock climbing is a perfect way to do so. While the sport looks and sounds radical and most certainly can be radical, there are options for everyone seeking a little vertical in their lives. Climbers should have proper climbing shoes, a harness, a 60m rope, webbing and lock-in carabeiners. All climbing areas in the San Juans feature loose rock, so wear a helmet. Intermediate to advanced climbers should have more than one rope for multi-pitch climbs and carry a basic rack with camming units, a wide selection of stoppers and plenty of runners.
In the San Juans Mountains, hikes are plentiful and easily accessible. The nice thing about hiking is the time it allots for reveling in one’s surroundings, noticing wildlife and stopping to smell the flowers. With all hikes make sure to bring plenty of water, food, sunglasses, visor or ball cap,sunscreen, bug juice and wear appropriate shoes. Be prepared for any and all weather conditions no matter what the day looks like at the start (i.e. rain gear, winter hat, gloves, pants and extra socks). Always watch the skies and especially on the longer, more advanced hikes with high-altitude exposure, take shelter as quickly as possible if there is any sign of lightning.
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