Hermosa Roadless Area Trails
Hermosa Spanish name, meaning “beautiful,” well describes the colorful geology and luxuriant forests of this wild drainage north of Durango. One of Colorado’s most biologically diverse forests, Hermosa contains 17 separate ecosystems, ranging from rocky scrub oak and pinyon-juniper at lower elevations to aspen, spruce, and fir. Tracts of virgin timber exist at elevations as low as 7,000 feet, well below the typical elevation of most protected forests in Colorado. The Colorado Trail (Indian Ridge Trail) runs along the crest of the La Plata Mountains, which define Hermosa’s western boundary. From the Animas Valley at 7,000 feet, hikers can ascend through a dramatic change in ecosystems to the La Plata’s summits above 12,000 feet. The colorful landscape here owes its beauty to thick sedimentary formations, including crimson red shales and sandstones laid down as marine deposits during the Permian period some 250 million years ago. The area’s wild interior hosts significant wildlife populations including large herds of mule deer and elk, which draw throngs of hunters in the fall. The Hermosa roadless area includes a western spur that descends along Bear Creek to the Dolores River. Via this route you can traverse from the Animas River to the Dolores River—over the crest of the La Platas—without crossing a road or otherwise encountering signs of civilization. Not only does Hermosa provide a corridor between the two river drainages, in a larger context it constitutes a critical link between the state’s largest protected area, the Weminuche Wilderness, and lower elevations along the San Juan Mountains’ western perimeter. This trail guide includes descriptions of Bear Creek, Goulding Creek, Jones Creek/Little Elk Creek, Clear Creek/South Fork, Big Bend Creek/Salt Creek, Highline Loop, Colorado Trail, and Hermosa Creek.
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Directions to: Hermosa Roadless Area Trailsprint directions
Trail Statistics & Information
|Skill Level||Easy to Moderate|
|Season||Best Spring through Fall|
|Trailhead Elevation||7,000 ft|
|Top Elevation||12,300 ft|
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