Everyone who wants a great family hike is usually led to the Bear Creek Trail. It is a not too hard, not too long and it’s stunningly beautiful. Just because a lot of people do it does not mean that there aren’t unique things to discover.
You may notice just over a mile and a half up the trail there are a bunch of rock piles on the left. These are called cairns. The old tradition of stacking stones has many interesting purposes and backstories. For example the Native North Americans used them to mark buffalo jumps. Yes, they made sure their tribe could easily find the cliffs where they drove off bison during hunting endeavors. Additionally, trail builders would pile up rocks to help mark routes so people following the trails could find their way when it wasn’t quite clear. This technique is ancient but it is effective and is still used today.
However, the interesting cairns you find on Bear Creek Trail are not used for any other reason but to leave your own mark on the land. Think the locks on Parisian bridges over the Seine River. It is a unique and nondestructive way to show the world that you were there. There are many sculptures of different sizes and shapes. Some people can get extremely creative and plan ahead, while others just stack a few rocks and then go onward with their hike. Both ways contribute to the never ending collection. The only rule is don’t ruin another person’s masterpiece, because you wouldn’t want yours destroyed would you?
Getting Up Close and Personal
One of my favorite things to do when I get to the top of Bear Creek is to get as incredibly close to the falls. On hot days I will get so close that the mist which develops from the pressure of all those gallons of water hitting the ground drenches me. Sometimes I look for the smaller waterfalls next to the main one, and just hang out there, because I think they are just as gorgeous as the big one. However, it is also relaxing to stay farther away and stay dry while listening to the rushing water.
I hope that next time you hike Bear Creek you will see it in a new light, with more things to discover, and create. In Telluride you are never done exploring!