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The Hermosa Creek Trail The Hermosa Creek Trail is considered by many to be one of Durango's top trails and indeed one of the best in Colorado and after experiencing it you will understand why. The trail itself is about 20 miles (one way) and most people complete it as a "shuttle" by which you are dropped off at the top trailhead and picked up at the bottom. It begins high up in the San Juan Mountains and follows a dirt singletrack trail along Hermosa Creek and ends at a campground not far from the town of Hermosa. Trail use includes Mountain Biking, Hiking, Horseback Riding, Motorcycling, ATV's, Hunting, Cross Country Skiing, Snow Shoeing and Snowmobiling. There are a lot of outdoor recreational activities available here and is one of the reasons it has become so popular. With that being said, there is some trail use guidelines posted at the trailheads that should be adhered to and you can find more information at the USDA Forest Service website www.fs.fed.us/r2/sanjuan . For the mountain biker you can expect some amazing downhill descents through beautiful high mountain aspens and pines with multiple stream crossings and some good technical sections. There is a particularly steep and technical part just beyond the bridge crossing that will challenge even the advanced rider. Since this trail could be considered remote back country and has rugged terrain, inexperienced riders should use extra caution and all riders should use common sense before taking it on. About a quarter of the way down from the top trailhead the Elbert Creek / Big Lick Creek trail intersects with the Hermosa Creek Trail. For a shorter trip you can take this down about 7 miles to where it exits onto hwy 550 or do a quick up and back from the Elbert Creek trailhead at highway 550. Indeed there are many trails that intersect with Hermosa Creek and will give plenty places to explore on a return visit. Little Elk Creek Trail (#515), Dutch Creek Trail (#516) and Jones Creek Trail (#518) are trails that drop down from the east. There are some that climb up from Hermosa Creek to the Colorado trail like: Corral Draw Trail (#521), Big Bend Creek Trail (#519) and Salt Creek trail (#559) to name a few. Look for signs that indicate usage types such as motorcycle and ATV's to be posted at intersections along the way. Hikers, backpackers, hunters and people camping have miles and miles of space to spread out and enjoy the beautiful back country that makes the Durango Colorado area great! To plan your trip here use common sense and do not attempt activities beyond your abilities. Check local weather conditions, bring plenty of water and do not drink from streams unless you have properly filtered or treated it. Bring some extra food, bring spare parts kits, bring first aid kits and let people know where you are and when you should be back. Be aware of others on the trail and use proper etiquette and try to stay on the trail itself to avoid damage to flora and fauna. There are many sources of back country safety beyond what is listed here and if you are not experienced it is advised to educate yourself before embarking. When to visit? Depending on what you are looking for, the best time for summer activities are from mid to late June (depending on spring runoff)  through October. The fall trees are especially amazing here! Note: This is a fairly high altitude and even in the summer with the right conditions you can get snowed on. Wildlife is much more prevalent in the summer and you can sometimes see mule deer, elk, and bears along with a myriad of small animals. If you like to fish, there are plenty of streams just beckoning to be cast upon so bring your camera and your fishing pole! Winter generally begins late October and diminishes by May or June and you will usually see enough snow for back country activities by late November or December. You can choose to snowshoe, cross country ski and snowmobile into the area and experience the trail in a whole new way. From the beautiful aspens groves to the spectacular canyons this amazing trail has too much to offer to be missed. So put the Hermosa Creek Trail on your "to do" list break out the gear and Go Outdoors!
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