Black Bear Pass Trail

HARD 37 reviews

Black Bear Pass Trail is a 9.2 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Telluride, Colorado that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from July until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

9.2 miles
1,827 feet
Point to Point

dog friendly


mountain biking

off road driving

trail running



wild flowers






washed out

Incredible views from high above Red Mountain Pass and Telluride. Close-up views of historic mines and dramatic waterfalls. Feel the mist from spectacular Bridal Veil Falls. Road is closed November through May 1. Switchbacks are one-way downhill; no return to start once you begin descent. Unlicensed vehicles should turn around before going down one-way switchbacks or have pick-up vehicle waiting at the bottom. Most of the trail is easy to moderate. The difficult rating is based on a mile-long stretch of dangerous switchbacks above Bridal Veil Falls. Your vehicle should have low-range 4WD, good tires, good brakes, excellent articulation, and a fully functional emergency brake.

3 minutes ago

Very scenic trail for off-roading purposes. You occasionally run into a hiker or mountain-biker, but for the most part, it’s all 4x4’s. The views are spectacular throughout the trail but the best views are when you come down the waterfall. To all those wielding a camera and shooting in daylight hours, jump (at your own risk) across the waterfall and get a shot of your vehicles coming down. The switchbacks are technical but not overwhelming. We were in a long bed company truck and successfully maneuvered the turns with little effort.
Happy trails!

off road driving
2 days ago

I decided to drive to Telluride, Colorado from Purgatory Resort. I found a short cut and found this amazing trail (Black Bear Pass). Of course, I did my research before going. I read some reviews on how technical and dangerous it can be. To be honest, it was fun and not as bad as it looks. As long as you are paying full attention, focused, and staying within your limits you will be ok. My wife was a great spotter to make sure I did not fall off the cliff on those tight switchbacks. This is the most scenic and beautiful off-road trail I have ever been to. It may be short but seems like a lifetime of amazing views. I would highly recommend this trail.

off road driving
4 days ago

This is a sketchy trail. Incredible though. Not a super difficult drive but if you make a mistake in the wrong area it could be your last. I did it in the rain and that added to the sketchiness. The worst part was the steps... just take it slow and you’ll be fine. I would recommend airing down and taking it super slow. A spotter helps but is not a must. Took us about 3 hours. Gorgeous views all over the trail. Did it in a 2017 Tacoma with a 2 inch lift and wrangler duratrac tires.

5 months ago

Very scenic, with tight switchbacks. I've driven Black Bear several times. Yes, you must aware of your surroundings, but you don't need to air down or need a spotter. Your on a Mountain made of rock and can't get stuck, unless mechanically deficient.

Bring a camera and a lunch. Bridal Falls is a must! You drive past it toward the end. Enjoy the scenic views and bask in the beauty of Colorado! I've done Hole in the Rock in Utah. There you must air down. Very steep crevices.

7 months ago

Great trail, awesome views and not as hard as people make it out to be if you pay attention to the trail

off road driving
9 months ago

Heavy 1 ft snow at the top
Too difficult for a stock
Had to return from just .5 miles from the top
Will be back for sure

off road driving
10 months ago

Beautiful views but you need to be a confident off roader without a fear of heights. Tight steep switchbacks are tricky.

off road driving
10 months ago

off road driving
11 months ago

If you make one wrong move it's over. Don't kid yourself. Don't think owning cool equipment can make up the difference. The 'Steps'... you will slip left toward the creek some 20 feet ish below the ledge. This is your first wake up moment. It's gonna get real or more real. Don't begin any of this without airing down first. From here to the falls is seriously for people who have experience only. Given all this, if you still feel this is for you, then proceed lol. Stay safe.

off road driving
11 months ago

We took 550 from Ouray at the bottom we air down to half the tires capacity to grip and smooth the ride. From the beginning this is a moderate trail with many switchbacks but enough room to pass by others from the opposite direction. Then you will come up to an area with signage saying from here on it is a one way road, so from there on you are committed to it. Check the weather before going if you are serious otherwise you could spend a lot of time waiting for it to clear! Next, the moderate trail narrows and you will come to a fork in the road, if you take the right fork the road will become a rocky and lead to a 4 foot steep rock stepped waterfall that you have to climb over....we did fine in our stock 4 door jeep rubicon although you could get into trouble depending on your approach. The safe way is to take the left fork which is an easy loop around the obstacle both connect and go to black bear pass.

At the summit it flattens out with plenty of you can take your time and take in the beautiful scenery! The road continues moderate for a few miles until you see Telluride down in the valley at this point the trail becomes difficult. Look for the old cables in the air across the trail this signals the start of "the steps". The trail narrows and this area has a canyon to the left with jagged slate rocks to your right, also the trail drops down at a 45 degree angle and tilts towards the drop off. The trail is huge steps of slate, you must go slow and it will push the capacity of stock 4x4, 4wd low with downhill assist and disconnected sway bar is highly recommended!! If you don't have downhill assist put your emergency brake on about 3 clicks!! After surviving the steps the switchbacks begin, the first switchback is the hardest and a spotter is suggested, but you must back up to make the turns on several of them, each of the switchbacks are fairly tight but they get easier as you go. Once you reach bridal falls the road is no longer one way and you will meet local traffic of vehicles, ATV's, motorcycles and hikers. The trail takes right into Telluride!!

Happy trails.....we experienced rain and hail on our trek doing this trail!!

Ps....the closest gas station we found to add air up our tires was a mile and half north of Telluride!

off road driving
Tuesday, July 11, 2017

This is an amazing place to be. Been over the whole trail a few times and back over Imagine or Orphir pass. Or just to the top. The scenery is beautiful! Only experienced off road drivers and can't be afraid of heights. The pucker factor is very high. Just have a good short wheelbase 4X4, pay attention and you will be fine.

Monday, September 26, 2016

The road itself is ok to drive a 4 wheel drive vehicle on. Good view of bridal veil falls. This road leads to two gems though. The telluride via Ferratta is a must do and take the trail at the top of black bear pass to the old mining cables and go up the switchbacks to the summit of Ajax peak. Both are a must do in telluride imo

off road driving
Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Absolutely loved this trail. Spent the weekend in Telluride for the Pretty Lights show. Decided to Jeep this trail and let me say besides the concert this was definitely a highlight for me. I recommend a spotter for sure. High clearance 4x4 with 4 low is a must in my opinion. Bring camera and take time to enjoy the awesome scenery. I shot a time laps of the trail and will post it on Utube shortly. Happy 4 wheeling!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Very dangerous trail if you don't take it seriously. If you take your time and have a spotter, no issue at all. We took a 2011 Nissan Frontier down it with no issues. Short wheelbase vehicles are at a big advantage due to tight switchbacks. Also, you do need a fair amount of ground clearance in spots... Wranglers, Grand Cherokees, Tacomas, Xterras, and such should be okay. Notice these all have 4-low. I used a lot of engine braking on this trail. Be safe, have fun.

off road driving
Thursday, August 04, 2016

Very difficult trail. Visitors should not attempt. As a local I'm not a fan. The switchbacks are too tight.

off road driving
Thursday, August 13, 2015

We drove up to the point you can on the pass from Telluride and hiked up to the valley following the road. Completely gorgeous, secluded, stunning views. Can completely understand why the area was sacred to the Ute indians. Driving west to east is impossible, east to west would be very, very hairy. Gnarly staircase type rocks to climb down in the one way area beginning shortly above the falls over Telluride. If you can't make the drive over then drive up the set of allowed switchbacks on the west side and hike up (allow 3-6 hours for hiking) as it may be one of the best hikes in Colorado. Also recommend the hike out the south gate at the top of the drive-able area, you'll go past the old mill and with about 2-3 hours of hiking reach Blue Lake at the base of Three Needles. We didn't make it up that far, but both valleys up there are unforgettable.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

This trail has great views of Telluride plus a waterfall at the end. Even though it is primarily used for off road driving, it is frequently used by hikers and mountain bikers. Highly recommend if you only have time to do one hike.

off road driving
Tuesday, August 27, 2013

This is one of my favorite trails in southwestern Colorado! This isn't exactly the longest trail but it should only be attempted by those who are experienced and are very comfortable with off-road driving. The trail is only a one-way trail past a certain point (pretty much the summit of the trail) so just know you must start the trail from Highway 550 and then you'll drop right down into Telluride. As you begin the trail, you're already at Red Mountain Pass so it doesn't take that long to get above the tree line and above 12,000 ft. There is really only one obstacle on the way up the trail known as "The Waterfall" and it usually will have flowing water coming down it and it isn't bad at all. In a stock 4x4 vehicle with high clearance, you may scrape here or there but you wont ever high center or anything.

Now once you reach the actual Black Bear Pass, you can turn around here or you can continue down the trial towards Telluride but there is no going back! (Okay you COULD turn around later but just save yourself and others the trouble of passing on narrow shelf roads.) So as you start down the trail, it is pretty easy driving and you most likely will never have oncoming traffic but there are narrow sections so be careful. As you get closer to the switchbacks which this trail is famous for, you will have some tippy spots and you may even have some steep spots depending on which way you go but most of the time you can spot the easiest route. But once you get to the beginning of the switchbacks, you'll know you're at the point they call "The Steps" or even "Pucker Point". Here it seems as if the road just is going down and over into oblivion, and there is a rock wall on your right side with a drop of on your left, so it may be wise to have a good spotter out there helping you if you're worried about tire placement.

After you've completed "The Steps" you'll go down the road a little and you'll reach the first switchback of many, now with these, I highly recommend using a spotter because you WILL have to do some backing up to get around the corners. Not too long ago, there was actually a couple in a rental Jeep who went off the trail at one of these switchbacks and they both were thrown out of the vehicle and killed and the Jeep was just a ball of metal, so BE CAREFUL! The road is narrow at some points and I highly recommend not doing this trail when it is stormy asthe trail and rocks that you're driving on can be slick but is you take your time, everything will be OKAY!

off road driving
Thursday, August 22, 2013

My son and I did this trail as part of a summer vacation. We entered from the Ouray/Silverton side. Alpine scenery and landscapes all the way over to the point of no return. (The road becomes one way and there's no turning back.) From there the trail lived up to its hype. Loose slate steps, made slippery by a high-altidude storm that rolled in, made the initial descent on the switchbacks interesting to say the least. Fun trail well-worth the effort it takes to get there. You'll need a vehicle with decent clearance and 4WD. A shorter wheelbase really helps on the switchbacks. My dad did the trail in full size pick up truck back in the 70's - so it can be done.

Short trail on the whole. From start to finish only a couple hours. Drive back from Telluride was a bit tedious (we were camping in Silverton).

off road driving
Sunday, July 07, 2013

Rated 5+++. This trail is breathtaking...undescribable,hence the lack of comments I think. check out the many video's on you-tube and such...then go try it for yourself. See:

off road driving
3 days ago

11 days ago

1 month ago

8 months ago

off road driving
10 months ago

off road driving
10 months ago

off road driving
11 months ago

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

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