Ditch the Car!

If you’re looking for a way to burn off some holiday calories consider going for a hike. The town of Silverton is surrounded by some of the most scenic and rugged mountains anywhere in the country. Needless to say, this offers some fantastic hiking opportunities you can explore right from town.

Kendall Mountain Road

From the corner of 14th and Green head SE towards the chairlift at Kendall Mountain Recreation Center (KMRC). Once you cross the second bridge you’ll see Kendall Mountain Road on your right. This is our first suggestion but understand that it is a dirt road that goes up an entire mountain. Not only will you encounter jeeps, ATVs , and bikers, but please understand that this option involves a lot of climbing. However, once you’ve climbed a good ways you’ll find all kinds of amazing meadows and side roads to explore in utter seclusion.

Lakawana Mill Trail

The next suggestion also starts from KMRC and is much more secluded with no ATV traffic to worry about. The Lakawana Trail starts from the parking lot right next to the bottom of the chair lift. As you look up at the ski resort you’ll notice that it basically has an expert run, an intermediate run, and a beginner run all the way to the left. Start walking up the beginner run and you’ll see a trail will start to form that heads off into the trees to the left near the top of the sledding hill. This trail will take you to the Lakawana Mill after a few hundred yards and then picks up again on the other side of the dirt road you’ll have to cross. From there it meanders across the base of the mountain with a lot of short ups and downs but not much of a major elevation gain on its way to Aspen Town, a neat little collection of abandoned homes from the 1800s. From Aspen Town you can either turn around and retrace your steps back to KMRC or you can head down the dirt road which follows Arastra Gulch down to the Animas River, which will then lead you back to town.

Shrine Road

At either end of the Shrine Road are great hiking options which are both pretty secluded and very close to town. From 14th and Greene head NW towards the big painted S Rock on the hill behind town. The road will take a right up the hill behind the houses and then make a switchback at the first landing. Here you will find a trail head which will lead you back up the canyon above cement creek. This is a rather long trail with options allowing you to head up to the ridge line where some really amazing views can be earned.

At the other end of the Shrine Road there is a very small road that heads to up and to the left about 50 yards from hwy 550. This is the Rainbow Trail (featured image) which essentially follows the old railroad line all the way up to Chattanooga. This trail steadily climbs at a hardly noticeable grade for several miles and is typically within a few hundred yards of the highway at all times. It’s name comes from the amazing red scree fields you’ll cross several times, some of which can be a bit steep so please watch your step.

The Swimming Hole

From the visitors center you’ll want to walk out of town along HWY 550 for a couple hundred yards till you cross the bridge and see a dirt road on your left. From here you’ll head down the dirt road and follow it for about a mile until it reaches the old mine and starts to turn into a foot trail. In a few hundred yards you’ll find a nice grassy meadow to explore, a great spot to swim in the river, and a scenic bridge where you can catch some sun on a rock while you watch the trains pass back and forth. It’s a really popular spot so you’ll likely have to share it but there are all kinds of side trails to explore that you’re sure to have all to yourself.



  1. Great! Thanks for letting folks know there is more to do here than stomp a gas pedal or sit in a bar. The San Juan’s have the best hiking in the country. Get out there and do it!


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