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Hummingbirds zip through the air, waterfalls crash down in cascades of froth and aspen groves have resumed their lush green tones. Summer has arrived in Telluride, which means it’s high time for hitting the trails.

Here in the box canyon, outdoor recreation opportunities are endless: we can bag peaks, climb crags, mountain bike over passes and take icy dips in alpine lakes. And at the foundation of all of these activities are our public trails, which are the key to opening up this endless and beautiful world of nature – and arguably the most important outdoor amenity we have.

Trails offer ribbons of dirt for long runs, epic bike rides and cross-country hikes, but they are so much more than vehicles for exertion. They are also our access into nature, which neuroscientists and researchers are proving more and more has significant benefits on human health. Immersion in nature is shown to regulate mood, lower stress hormones and blood pressure and help with conditions like depression and anxiety. It promotes creativity and reflection. Plus it’s really fun. And the best news is, it doesn’t take a multi-week wilderness excursion or strenuous backcountry hike to reap these benefits. Even a quick jaunt on your local trail will do you good. Just make sure to stop and inspect the wildflowers, listen to the burble of the stream or watch the clouds pass overhead.

Trails are also the great equalizer. You don’t need a locker of gear to hit the trail – just a pair of sturdy shoes –  and people of all ages and abilities can enjoy them together. Which makes them optimal for family time.

LOOKING FOR SOME OF TELLURIDE’S BEST, LOCAL TRAILS?

HERE ARE THREE OPTIONS:

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INTRODUCTORY TRAIL: BEAR CREEK
With its aspen-shaded path and gentle grade, Bear Creek is Telluride’s great introductory trail. Starting right in town at the south end of Pine Street, the popular trail winds through shady forests, offering glimpses of the rushing creek as well as views of the cliffs in the upper basins above. With a cascading waterfall as its finale, the 4.5-mile-roundtrip trail never disappoints.

WILDFLOWER TOUR: HOPE LAKE
Because it begins at a relatively high elevation, the Hope Lake Trail south of Telluride offers the best bang for your buck when it comes to alpine wildflowers, sweeping basins and icy high-altitude lakes. The trail takes hikers through thick woods, landscapes thick with paintbrush, bistort and king’s crown, and finally to the shores of Hope Lake, a vividly blue alpine lake where icebergs often bob even in the summer months. This trail is moderately difficult and accessed via Hope Lake Road near Trout Lake.

BACKCOUNTRY EPIC: SNEFFELS HIGHLINE
If you are looking for the ultimate tour of the San Juan Mountain high country, look no further than Sneffels Highline. This 13-mile hike climbs through aspen groves into the rocky basins above Telluride, where it unfurls through basins lush with delphiniums, roams through otherworldy rock landscapes and climbs over an unforgettable notch. Be sure to bring a map, layers and food, and start this one early; it takes several hours.

Katie Klingsporn
Writer, Editor, & Journalist for Telluride Inside & Out

Telluride Inside…and Out is a lifestyle ezine, the place where a rural mountain setting meets cosmopolitan culture. TIO brings you behind the scenes to see what is happening in and around the Telluride region and the impact Telluride has around the world. Spend some time with TIO and you may find that you too are 100% Telluride Inside. We post daily.