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Spring Hike up Bear Creek

Sunday • May 12, 2013

It’s time to put on that old pair of hiking shoes or break in a new pair. Though hiking options in Telluride are a bit limited in May, the low elevation hikes (relatively speaking) are generally passable and provide some beautiful views.

Last weekend, I hiked the Owl Creek Trail as my first hike of the season. Located just east of the Jud Wiebe Trail, Owl Creek is a comfortable 2 hour loop with a southern exposure. At most, there’s 100 yards of snow to navigate through.  The rest of the trail is open and reasonably dry. The length and elevation are similar to Jud Wiebe, but I prefer fewer people on the trail.

This weekend, I wanted to see how far I could get up the Bear Creek Trail before getting snowed out. The good news is that you can get all the way to the falls. However, the last 10% of the trail is totally snow covered. Otherwise, there are intermittent snow patches throughout the hike. Hiking poles and good hiking shoes are definitely helpful on the slippery spots.

Starting the hike shortly after 8am meant that the sun hadn’t reached the trail yet, and the temperature was just above freezing. However, the stocking hat and gloves were put away within the 1st hour. On my way back, the coat was stripped off and I was down to a tee shirt. The nice thing about starting early is that the ground is frozen rather than muddy, and the snow is solid. Coming back, I sunk in the snow and tried to navigate around the mud.  

While there are signs of spring, there’s not much green vegetation around in early May. I thought this would diminish the picture taking opportunities, but in the end, I shot far more pictures than I expected. The combination of snow, ice, and running water made for some awesome shots.

Before heading back to Telluride, I started up the Wasatch Trail. Unfortunately, the trail is snowed out just 15 minutes up from the trailhead. My guess it will be another couple weeks before the Wasatch is open enough to get above the Bear Creek falls.  In the meantime, I’ve heard that the Keystone Gorge Trail is gorgeous, and I’m guessing that Tomboy Road will be clear for a couple of miles.