Telluride was love at first sight. Within one hour of arriving, two of our children begged us to move here. For days they continued to make their pleas and share their fantasies of making Telluride a new home. It's impossible not to instantly fall in love with the streams, lakes, crisp air and sunny skies which are all surrounded by mountains that transform throughout the day with the sun's every whim. Nestled in the San Juan Mountains Mother Nature tucks this town into a happy space and completely removes any traces of the city life we are accustomed to back home. 2,500 people call this special place their home. Lucky them. The town shuts down in November, its' slowest month, in preparation for a massive ski season ahead. Otherwise, Telluride is a year round destination pushing its' visitors and residents to the great outdoors whenever possible.
We rented a house in Mountain Village through Silver Star Telluride, a local management company. The house had a wonderful modern cabin feel with stunning mountain views and of course, great WiFi which is our most crucial criteria!
Mountain Village is seven miles from the town of Telluride and almost 1,000 feet higher at 9,547 feet. It is the heart of the ski resort and is beautifully designed for the thousands who visit each ski season. There is a free gondola that transports two million riders each year between the two towns. Our kids loved riding the gondola on their own, meeting us at different locations, as we tried to navigate our days. I must admit, commuting in a gondola with gorgeous mountain views beats a NYC subway ride any day! Just as the kiddos convinced me to face my fear of heights and ride the gondola with them, it closed for the month. I was so mentally prepared for the challenge but secretly relieved I was off the hook.
The village is upscale and filled with restaurants, boutiques, and one of the most beautiful supermarkets we've shopped in yet. It is extremely pedestrian friendly as well. Between the two towns you really never have to get in a car. Off ski season there is an element of exclusivity here. Those who live here year round are privy to a lifestyle many never experience. We hope to return later in the ski season to experience the mountain when it comes most alive. A friend who lives here said that the winters are warm because the sun shines so bright and that it is common to see locals jogging in t-shirts when the town is draped in snow. Sounds like my kind of winter!
Folks in Telluride are pretty good about wearing their masks but not great. I would estimate that half of them do not wear one when they are outdoors running, mountain biking or even strolling. I know that it is not comfortable to wear one when exercising but the last thing I want is someone heavily breathing in my air space when we pass one another. Our son met up with an old friend that moved here seven years ago. It was an adorable reunion. Later on our son told us that his friend mentioned that there have only been two cases of Covid in Telluride. I later fact checked this estimation. Although there have been zero deaths, there have been one hundred confirmed cases thus far. Perhaps the low numbers here persuade residents to continue breathing in the fresh mountain air without fear of contracting the virus.
The sunsets from Sunset Plaza on Mountain Village are impossible to describe. Watching nature work her magic here is an unforgettable experience. As the sun begins to set the San Juan Mountains slowly start to glow and in tandem with the sun, they begin to change their colors. The sky lights up like a bright flame and over time eases into a peaceful pink. Sunset is an epic part of the day.
Telluride is an old mining town comprised of colorful Victorian Homes, a town center filled with rows of shops and restaurants lined up on Colorado Avenue, a bunch of local hiking trails, and a thriving community with a wonderful public school system. The small town is built in the valley so that the surrounding mountain views dominate the horizon. Telluride is truly a treasure.
Needless to say, there are infinite trails in the area that appeal to hikers at every level. Due to the mountainous terrain most trails require some uphill walking. Even the ones that are marked "easy" can be quite difficult for those not accustomed to inclines.
Keystone Gorge Loop Trail:
This trail is just a few minutes drive from town. It is marked as "easy" but we will unanimously contest this. The hike is a relatively short 2.5 mile loop but there are many very steep and slippery parts of the trail and on the way back there is an ascension of five hundred feet within .5 miles of the hike. It is definitely a challenging hike but oh so worth the pain and panting! The first part of the trail is hugged by a creek and breathtaking views. There are also fun parts where some rock climbing is required and narrow trails that add to the thrill. In order to get over to the return part of the loop we had to cross a pretty wobbly suspension bridge that can only handle a capacity of six people at a time. Needless to say, between the shaky bridge, the slippery slopes, the narrow trails and the never ending climb back up, this hike had my heart racing for its duration. I was so proud of our kids for getting through it. Difficult hikes definitely test your mind and ability to push through. The exhilaration that serves as a completion prize is just the best.
Coronet Creek Falls
Coronet Creek Falls Trail is right in town. Locals have access to some of the most beautiful trails within walking distance of their homes. Like most trails in Telluride, the hike is a relentless incline. We have all noticed that the high elevation here has been making it more difficult for us to trek challenging hikes making us pant and desperately work at catching our breath. The trail is short and we were quickly rewarded with a gorgeous waterfall at the top of the mountain. The terrain reminded me of Santa Fe and Utah where the earth is often red. It's incredible how much the landscape here varies. We spent a solid amount of time admiring the stunning scenery in sheer awe of what we were witnessing before us.
Bear Creek Falls
Also right off the main street in town, this is another wonderful trail. We spent two and a half hours hiking and ascending this steep part of the mountain with old friends that moved to Telluride from Manhattan seven years ago. It was so great to catch up with them as we all immersed ourselves in the beautiful surroundings. Their dog, Pickle, was a welcomed addition - it's so fun to see how happy the dogs in Telluride are with so much freedom to explore.
The hike is approximately a two mile steady incline with quite a history. We passed by a section called Avalanche where an avalanche ripped through the mountain a couple of years ago leaving thousands of trees uprooted. Our friends told us about two friends who died in avalanches here skiing the "back country trails". Petrifying. I literally got chills walking past this graveyard of trees.
It was my mission to find Little Hawaii off the Bear Creek Trail hike. Even our friends, who are locals, haven't found this haven yet. Together, with the few clues we had, we found the magical oasis tucked into the mountain. The two logs serving as a foot bridge to enter the trail was an adventure in itself. Getting on the path I crossed the bridge on all fours but on the way back, feeling empowered by finding the falls, I walked across with confidence.
It's hard to describe where Little Hawaii can be found. Approximately twenty minutes into the hike, on Bear Creek Trail, look to your left and down the hill you will spot (although not so easily) the foot bridge comprised of two logs shown below. Once you cross, immediately veer to your left and follow the muddy path until you spot the falls and gorge. This is truly a special spot as this lovely canyon pops out of no where with a water fall feeding the gorge the bluest of waters.
Bridal Veil Falls/ Silver Lake
By far the most challenging hike we have ever taken, this trail pushed our limits and our bodies like nothing else ever has. We hiked 8.25 miles over 4.5 hours ascending 2,608 feet to an elevation of 11,600 feet. Nature continuously rewarded us for our loyalty and determination with water falls, streams and incredible views. She also provided constant reminders of her ominous power showing us paths of destruction from avalanches and forcing us to relent to her grace and kindness. There were moments I literally thought I was going to slide down five hundred foot slopes that were so steep and impossible to maneuver without prayer and hope.
Our children impressed me so much with how little they complained and how naturally they plowed through this extremely challenging hike as if it's something they are accustomed to. Our daughter shed a few tears on the steep climb up watching rocks slip beneath her feet as well as on the way down when we all constantly slipped and fell on our butts. By the end of this hike, my pants had two rips, her shorts were torn and we were all scraped up with scratches and bruises. Despite all this, we were all so thrilled with our accomplishment and our endorphins were pumping strong for quite a while.
The initial plan was to drive up to Bridal Veil Falls and then walk up the two miles to Silver Lake. Fear got the best of us when we saw the high, narrow roads along the mountain. We also were easily deterred when a couple of cars turned back around and warned us not to proceed. Eager to get to the falls and the well-known Alpine lake, we walked up to the Falls instead of driving. In retrospect, we could have driven as the roads were not as scary as they were made out to be. While 1.5 miles doesn't sound like a lot, when you're climbing hundreds of feet it's torturous. As soon as the temperature suddenly dropped several degrees we knew the falls were finally nearby. Although a bit dried out, it was still a stunning sight, especially witnessing the waters as they begin to freeze into beautiful formations.
Fear (when can we kick this guy out of our trip?) set in once more around 4:30pm when we hit a forest and the lake seemed nowhere to be found. My husband had a little freak out about being deep in a mountain during dusk (i.e. feeding time for the bears and wild cats that scour these peaks). Although I was nervous too, I was eager to get to the lake but was unable to convince him to proceed. Adding to that, a lone hiker below us thought it would be funny to growl like a bear giving us quite a fright. On a better note, our oldest son was walking ahead at a faster pace and was lucky enough to get to the lake and reap the benefits of all the energy he just put into finding it. We were only twenty minutes away from the prize, but my hubby was in papa bear mode and just wanted to get out of the woods before we became dinner for another species.
Even though we didn't make it to the lake, the hike gave us such a sense of empowerment and accomplishment, which is a gift in itself. Accomplishing this with my family will always be one of my most cherished memories.
In Telluride I could feel a very quick change in myself and immediate personal growth. Being in nature daily inspired me to practice gratitude even more than I already do. There is a constant reminder here of how small we are in such a great, vast world but that even in this smallness we need to find a bigger purpose. Telluride also pushed me to new heights, literally and metaphorically. I faced so many fears here and participated in activities I would normally have avoided. Thank you Telluride for your magical presence, incredible memories and unforgettable beauty.