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Molas Lake To Animas River

MODERATE 87 reviews
#9 of 122 trails in

Molas Lake To Animas River is a 8.1 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Silverton, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and mountain biking and is best used from May until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 8.1 miles Elevation Gain: 1,991 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly


mountain biking





wild flowers


Starts at Molas Lake and ends up at Animas River. Down hill trail

3 months ago

Down hill trail. The first mile has a short but steep drop, then arrives in a beautiful mellow meadow for a bit. Afterwards pretty much all switch backs to the bottom. Trail is amazing with top notch San Juan views, through forests and aspen groves. At the bottom there is the Animas River, a bridge, and train tracks. We timed it perfectly to be trackside for both trains going to Silverton. Could also hear their engines blowing on the trip back up, as the trains headed back to Durango. Not as many people as expected during peak leaf peeping. As other reviewers mention, 3 miles of constant uphill is a bit of a grind on the way out. Nothing super steep, just constant. 5 star trail for sure.

5 months ago

Only did about two miles in and back while camping nearby. Explored a few other spurs around the campground. The stretch I did was easy-moderate with gorgeous views along the way. Took my little Schnauzer along and she loved it. Kept her on-leash due to coyotes in the area the night before. Heard the train below me when u stopped for a break before heading back, just before the steep switchbacks kicked in.

5 months ago

Check the elevation profile! That was a tough one on the way back. Beautiful views though and we timed our Animas River arrival with a train passing. It is quite the beautiful hike.

5 months ago

As others have said, save some energy for the trip back up! Overall, I really enjoyed this hike. Not only are the views outstanding, if you’re a train nerd like me, hearing the train whistle echoing throughout the valley is simply magical.

6 months ago

Beautiful hike that drops down through meadows and forest to the Animas River. The views of the Animas River Canyon are wonderful. However, if backpacking up this trail to exit the canyon, it's a 4 mile slog up hill. Worth it though!

6 months ago

We only hike this to the overlook where we can see the river and train tracks. We arrived at the overlook at about noon in time to catch the train coming around the bend blowing its whistle. Out and back is about 3.6 miles. Gorgeous views of the Grenadiers.

6 months ago

Incredible views on this hike! One of our favorites thus far! Make sure you save some energy to hike back out as it’s pretty much all uphill. Most areas it’s gradual but there are a few steeper switch backs. Definitely worth it!

7 months ago

Beautiful hike with great views! Trail is in good shape now (6/18/19), considering all the snow we had this year, with just a few snowy patches during the flat middle section. Steep sections at the river and near the trailhead will make you work.

Mon Oct 29 2018

Amazing trail. Has some difficulty since most of the way back is uphill. Very beautiful scenery including waterfalls and the Animas River.

Sun Sep 23 2018

The most beautiful views - the last 2 miles hiking up was a bit hard but overall a great hike.

Fri Aug 17 2018

Great trail with great views. Not too heavily trafficked on a Friday morning. Down by the river I got to watch the train from Durango to Silverton come by. The return hike is tough as its mostly uphill, but altogether a real fun hike. It took me maybe 4 hours with 20 minutes spent by the river.

Sat Aug 04 2018

Did this end of July 2018. Great views. Very little traffic. As previously stated, the grind from the bottom is a bit strenuous but a great challenge. My dog also loved the stream at the bottom.

Sat Jul 14 2018

awesome views going down into the valley. hike back up is a bit arduous but not bad. i only encountered one other group. this is one of my favorites so far.

Mon Jul 02 2018

This is a very well maintained downhill hike with wide switchbacks covering most of the descent. I really enjoyed the first section with the long range views, but at least 3/4 of the hike is in the interior of the forest with very little views until you reach the river. My dog did enjoy a swim once we got there! The climb from the bottom got a little monotonous, but no section was ridiculously intense. It took me 3 hours round-trip with a couple shorts rests coming back up.

Tue Jun 26 2018

Great day! 1st Mile and half on the way back are the most strenuous, say a 7 of 10.

Mon Jun 11 2018

We hiked this trail the first week in June, 2018. It was amazing. Epic views.

Tue May 29 2018

Gorgeous hike! The trail was bone dry. Incredible views and you can get right up to the railroad and see the train pass.

Tue May 15 2018

Easier than we expected. Amazing views. It took us just over 4 hours round trip. No snow on the trail. Not too wet or muddy either. The mileage was spot on.

Sun May 06 2018

Very good hike for our first Colorado hike. The altitude was an obstacle, but we managed. The dogs loved it, especially the stream down at the bottom. Would like to do this again when the trail is dry and no snow. Trail is rocky in some areas. Very nice views of the mountains.

Mon Apr 30 2018

The views from this trail are incredible! Hiked on 4/29/18 in mostly sunny weather with high winds. Was the only one on the trail for five hours. While Molas Lake itself was still frozen, the trail was 95% dry except for thick mud leading from the trailhead and patches of snow in shaded woody areas. The downhill views and Animas River are well worth the return climb.

Mon Oct 02 2017

A beautiful trail with stunning views that are well worth the back hike up! We saw the train twice down by the river - once from up above and then again when we reached the river. Steepest part is thru the aspen grove near the top of the trail. It was pretty sloppy with all the recent rain at the upper section of the trail, but that went away when we reached the switch backs. A great fall hike with lots of colors to see and hike through!

Wed Aug 09 2017

One of the most stunning and beautiful hikes I've ever done.

Mon Jul 31 2017

Beautiful experience!

Sat Jul 08 2017

The views from the mountain looking down at the Animas were great!!

Sun Jun 25 2017

Very nice, moderate intensity trail - the waterfall is BEAUTIFUL!! Nice for dogs to run on!

Sat Jun 24 2017

Great hike! Strenuous when you're not used to the altitude! I was huffing and puffing but I made it. Loose and rocky so have good boots.

Fri Jun 16 2017

Hard but great hike. Has a really pretty waterfall and some incredible views. Lots of places to camp too

Sun Jun 11 2017

Beautiful views!!

Thu Jun 08 2017

mountain biking
Thu Aug 11 2016

beautiful !

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