Durango may be a hub for mountain biking, skiing, and kayaking (among many other adventure sports), but nothing beats its hiking and backpacking opportunities. With the remote Weminuche Wilderness and La Plata Mountains at our backdoor, there’s no shortage of incredible adventures to be had. Here are a few of our favorite backpacking trips in the area.
Highline Loop – 2 days, 1 night
Short and sweet, but definitely not without its challenges, the 20-mile Highline Loop in the rugged La Plata Mountains is a fantastic weekend trip. Accessing some of the more remote regions of the La Platas, the Highline Loop is a low-traffic alternative to some of the more popular trails in the region. Beginning at Kennebec Pass (4x4 or high-clearance required), the trail follows Indian Trail Ridge before veering off into the Bear Creek drainage and loops back to Kennebec via Sharkstooth Peak. Plan on incredible views and waterfalls.
Vallecito to Chicago Basin – 3 days, 2 nights
This is one for the bucket list. Beginning in Vallecito, hike into the fabled Chicago Basin via Columbine Pass. From Chicago Basin, you can take the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad back into Durango. Though it’s only 25-miles, this route sees some serious elevation gain, with a high point of 12,400 ft. at Columbine Pass. You could extend this trip by staying an extra night in Chicago Basin and bagging a few 14ers.
Flint Loop – 4 days, 3 nights
Though this 41-mile loop can be completed in 3 days, it’s much more pleasant to take your time in the Weminuche high country. The Flint Loop begins near Vallecito on the Pine River Trail. Follow it 12 miles to the intersection of the Flint Creek Trail. From there you’ll climb over 2,000 ft. to Rock Lake, which makes an excellent place to camp. The following morning, climbing over the unnamed 12,500 ft. pass to Moon Lake then Emerald Lake for your final night. The next day is a 9-mile hike back to the Pine River trailhead. This is by no doubt one of the more strenuous hikes in the region because of its high elevation and steep climbs, but the views are worth every drop of sweat!