Ajax Peak Via Black Bear Road

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Uncompahgre National Forest

Ajax Peak Via Black Bear Road is a 10.6 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Telluride, Colorado that offers the chance to see wildlife and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and nature trips and is best used from June until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 10.6 miles Elevation Gain: 3,802 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly

hiking

nature trips

views

wildlife

no shade

should be re named pipeline trail to k. crater

hiking
7 months ago

PLEASE DON'T DO THIS TRAIL IF YOU'RE NOT EXPERIENCED, ARE AFRAID OF HEIGHTS OR EVER GET VERTIGO. I'm relatively inexperienced, and tried this hike a little less than a week ago and I couldn't finish it. Not because it was strenuous, but because I forgot about my fear of heights. I went all the way up from the bottom, and the views on the way up to the main part of the trail are spectacular. I was pretty much fine (I did miss the opening to the trail going up the actual mountain) until I got a little further up. I had always thought I'd pretty much got over my vertigo and fear of heights but the further I advanced up the switchbacks going up the mountain, the more terrified I became. The path is really narrow, and to one side there's a huge drop, and on the other the verticality is dizzying. Determined to make it all the way up, I persevered, almost having a panic attack and forcing myself to sit down each time I looked towards the drop. Then, about 0.5km from the top, the path just ends, and turns into rubble, at this point I watched two women do a vertical climb to the top like it was nothing! (they were from telluride and had done the hike many times before) I started crawling up, determined not to give up so close to the top, but in the end had to stop. I was so close but I just couldn't do it, I didn't want to get stuck and need rescuing, or to slip and fall. I had to bumslide back to the path in order to not have a panic attack. The views are AMAZING all the way up though, and if you're brave and experienced please do this hike. Just keep away if you're not!

hiking
9 months ago

This hike was world class but was hard to figure out ahead of time. The bottom line is how you get up to what they call the "power station". It is almost 3 miles and 2000 vertical climb up this power station, which is above the famous Bridal Veil Falls. That needless climb is all on a semi-graded road called The Black Bear Road. It is one of the most famous jeep roads in America. And in the last two weeks, it has been vastly improved with repair work up to at least the Bridal Veil Falls and can be traversed with a good high-clearance jeep all the way up to the power station, which is where the road becomes one-way in the other direction, from across the mountain in Ouray. So here is the trick. DO NOT park at the AllTrails trailhead down by the old Mine, which is one-half mile past the end of the paved road out of Telluride. That is where they want you to park. But if you have anything other than a sedan, you can drive much higher than that if you get there early. Much higher. You can park at the Falls or even higher. But don't take a chance. Go to the Visitors Center and schedule a shuttle all the way up to the power plant. That saves you almost 3 miles and 1900 foot ascent, which is 5.5 miles total (up and back). That is critical. We parked down by the old mine, and it added 2000 feet and 5.5 miles to the hike to the top of Ajax! We did it, but it sucked. You spend 70% of the hike on the famous Black Bear Pass jeep road. No! get as high as you can and then assault the Ajax. But, the hike up that jeep road is till beautiful and people were doing it from the bottom, but they were young and stupid. I am old and stupid, and I did it. Locals would NEVER walk up that mountain to Bridal Veil Falls. They would drive or be driven. But, that said, you may get up there and find no parking and have to come down. So pay someone to drive you up, or, get lucky and hitch up to the Falls or all the way up to the power plant. Any open bed pickup will pick you up. Now … the hike. World class. We did not go all the way to the summit of Ajax because I saw lightening and dark clouds, and a local told us to turn back. But we were within 400 feet vertical climb and half a mile away from the summit.... We had it. My Garmin said 12 miles round trip and 3500 foot climb. My AllTrails recorder stopped at least 4 times. Great hike. Also, no water crossings as of 16 July. Dry boots. Easy dry-boot-stone-hopping crossings. We brought water shoes to change into because of reports from a week ago of high streams. We also did not have to cross the huge snow field that blocked the pass on Black Bear road that people have been traversing for the past 4 weeks. The snow bank was still huge and present, but there is a small trail around it now. No water and no snow to cross as of today. 5 days ago? No. Big problem. Record snowfall last winter. 550 inches. This hike is famous for a reason. Do it. But don't be an idiot and walk all the way up from the old mine trailhead. That doubles the iconic hike! By the way - the same here is true for the Silver Lake and Blue Lake Hike. Be driven to the Bridal Veil Falls or higher! Also - 2 weeks ago they put in a new trail called Bridal Veil Falls that cuts across 4 switchbacks on that useless climb up from the Old Mine at the bottom. We did it on the way down. It gets you off that damn jeep road for a mile or so down low at the start. No! Be driven past that up to the Falls at least.

hiking
rocky
scramble
snow
9 months ago

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snow
10 months ago

This was a phenomenal hike, but was a bit challenging considering the current snow remaining on the trail. The river crossing at Ingram Falls was quite deep and raging, yet very passable. However snow covered the next section of the road, so we had to climb up a rocky wall and walk up the grassy hill until we found the path. Once we found the path it was a gorgeous hike with wild flowers and fantastic views all the way to the top!

Didnt really get to experience Ajax. one switchback from the top of Black Bear (which is still closed, snow blocked the road, and we had neither poles nor boots. There was plenty of parking at bridal veil, on a Wednesday late morning. Black Bear above Bridal Veil is completely un-maintained.

ohv/off road driving
Sun May 05 2019

Review for Black Bear Road: not for beginner off roaders. You must have a high clearance vehicle with good suspension and know what you're doing. Coming from Silverton off of million dollar highway, you start ascending which this part is comparable to Ophir Pass road, I would rate it moderate-easy. When you're ontop of the mountain, the views are to die for and the road is steadily getting more difficult, there are sharp hairpin turns and large dips in the road where you need that high clearance and good suspension. You'll cross a river/stream a few times so good tires are nice. We took a Land Rover and the driver is an experienced offroader, but he had to take off his hiking boots before starting the drive as to have a better handle on the vehicle. The descent into Telluride is the easiest, despite the steep zig-zag. I think due to the trails, Ajax and Bridal Veil, they have made that pat of the road more accessible. I say this road is difficult because the majority of the time, you are on the side of a mountain, if not on it, and the combination of technical offroading and the height factor can definitely be unnerving. I would say if you think Ophir pass is easy, you will have no problem with Black Bear.

Fri Sep 21 2018

Park at top of bridal falls. Below that is dusty, boring switchbacks. Once above power plant at Bridal Viel it is beautiful. Moderate steepness, but beautiful terrain. Went in September and only saw a few hikers.

hiking
Wed Aug 08 2018

Awesome trail if you are reasonably fit. 2,400 feet elevation change with virtually uninterrupted upward slope. Incredible views of Telluride and the Tomboy mine. A few things... Get a ride or drive up to Bridal Veil Falls if you can. Use the AllTrails map to get on the trail. After you pass over the creek, you’ll soon see 4 overhead cables perpendicular to the trail. You’ll turn left between the third and fourth ones to get off the road and onto the dirt trail. There were cairns there when we were there. Soon you’ll come to a fork. Either choice will get you there. The one on the right has longer switchbacks, is not as steep and is at least a mile longer than going left. But, going left is much steeper and more difficult than going right. You’ll have the same options coming down. Making the choice that fits your capabilities is important. If you start up the trail to the left and don’t like it, go down and take the other fork. Have a great hike! Jeff

hiking
Fri Jul 07 2017

We didn't use black bear road; we came from the bottom in telluride, but there is no trail on here for that route for some reason.. Just come straight down main street of telluride and it deadends into it. It's the same place if you want to go to Bridal Veil Falls. You need 4WD if you want to start the hike up by the falls like a lot of people do. We did not have that, so we had to hike from the bottom. This turns the hike into about 9 miles and 3000 ft elevation gain. You may be able to hitchhike to the falls though. There are a number of times you need to make sure you know where you are going. Ajax is the peak on the left on the way up. Once you cross the water near the top of the rocky switchbacks, soon after, you will cut hard to the left and leave the rocky path. It's easy to miss so look out. As you go up the grassy side of Ajax, about the top of those switchbacks, there will be another hard left that is easy to miss. Do not continue over the hump and go up to the higher peak. If it looks like you are going too far away from Ajax peak, then you are going the wrong way. There were wonderful waterfalls and wildflowers throughout the hike, and the views of the surrounding mountains and down into telluride are definitely worth it. Good luck!

hiking
Wed Feb 08 2017

We hiked to Ajax in Sept. of 2015. I rate it moderate but some folks might think it should be difficult. The switchbacks are such that it takes a lot of the sting out of the climb. I have hiked steeper switches than this, but these are long and quite easy to do. I suppose one could hike earlier or later in the season than posted as well, but the threat of avalanche in the winter months is very real. The hike has some of the best views around Telluride. Pretty much all above tree line as lots of Colorado hikes are. We parked at the car park where you can go no further up the Black bear pass road. It becomes one way at the cutoff to the top of Bridal Veil Falls, with downhill traffic only coming from Red Mountain Pass. So you hike the road up from there, till you get to the cutoff for the trail which is fairly obvious with an old mine tailing that sits right above it. Now the switchbacks start in earnest as you will climb about 1,330' to the ridge above, after about 11 switchbacks in only 1.6 miles. Then it's actually an easy down and back up to get to the peak. 360 degree endless views on top. Look down on Telluride, over to Imogene Pass, Black Bear Pass, The Wilsons, Sneffels, you name it. If you haven't done it, you need to :)

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