The five-mile roundtrip out-and-back hike to Bear Creek Falls starts in downtown Telluride and follows a shady trail through the Bear Creek Preserve. Take West Colorado Avenue (Main Street) to South Pine Street. There’s no public parking at the trailhead, but there is paid parking along the street. Cross the bridge over the San Miguel River and head south on a well-worn trail that follows the west bank of Bear Creek. You’ll pass access points to other trails like the Wasatch Trail as well as gorgeous aspen groves and unparalleled views of the wild San Juans. The frozen falls are especially beautiful in winter (bring your snowshoes!), and in the spring as the snowmelt gushes down the mountains and into the creeks.
- Telluride is known for its summer festivals. Time your waterfall hike to coincide with the world-renowned Telluride Film Festival held annually in August, the early summer Hot Air Balloon Festival, the iconic Telluride Bluegrass Festival, the hard rocking RIDE Fest, and many more.
- There’s no place like Telluride. Wander along Main Street, stop in Brown Dog Pizza for a beer and some award-winning pies, and don’t forget to take some stunning pictures on Main Street looking up toward Bridal Veil Falls.
- If you have more time, rent a Jeep in Telluride for the day or a whole week and explore the many San Juan Mountain passes outside of town. These mountains are dense with mining history — Imogene Pass is particularly interesting as the town of Tomboy sits in the basin just below the summit. At the turn of the 20th century, the Tomboy Mine was the highest grossing gold mine in the country.
—Susan Joy Paul