Ouray Perimeter Trail is a 5.6 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Ouray, Colorado that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is best used from May until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length5.6 miElevation gain1,492 ftRoute typeLoop
Dogs on leashKid friendlyHikingCaveForestRiverViewsWaterfallWildflowersWildlifeRocky
Description
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Ouray's Perimeter Trail, a unique five miler, features the surrounding cliffs and mountains. It begins across from the Ouray Visitors' Center on the east side of US 550. (Please wear boots or sturdy shoes on this mountain trail!) Parking space is available behind the Visitor's Center. To begin, walk across the road to a large pink boulder, sign and tree. The trail starts on a wood edged path north of a planted berm behind some condos. It climbs wood stairs in the hillside to Cascade Cliff. Hike south on the cliff path .7 mile to Cascade Falls and Cascade Creek bridge. Cross the bridge, and continue uphill on Lower Cascade Trail to a right turn (.9 mile). (At the first clearing, ahead of you to the south are Ouray's signature views of Mt. Abram, 12,801', and Hayden Mountain, 11,475'. The southwest skyline shows U.S. Mountain, 13,036'. To the west are Whitehouse Mountain, 13,452', and Twin Peaks, 10,798'.) Cross the 5th Avenue Trail and continue hiking to the Amphitheater Campground Road (1.3 miles). Turn right and walk down the road .1 mile to the Baby Bathtubs Trail. Ascending this section, you will reach a shallow, often dry, crossing of Little Portland Creek with lots of little rock bathtubs (great for kids to play in). Walk uphill to the left, parallel to the larger Portland Creek, to a footbridge. Across the bridge, walk 300' to a trail fork and turn left. Here, you will enter the Three Pines Day Use Area. Go south across the picnic space and follow the trail through forest about 1,000' and exit onto Portland Mine Road. Follow the road uphill 300' and turn right into the old miners' Potato Patch. (They really grew potatoes here.) Hike across the Patch, following posts and cairns to a spartan, rocky upland of cactus and flowers in spring and summer. This is the trail's highest elevation (8,500'). Enjoy the views! (Behind and to the east is the 3,000' gray Amphitheater wall; to the west is Hayden Mountain. Downhill is US 550 and the Uncompahgre Gorge.) Descend to the highway and cross carefully, listening and looking for traffic. Turn left at the Ice Park Trail, following the hydroelectric dam access road to a trail going west downhill to the gorge and river bridge. Cross the bridge, taking time to admire the views and continue uphill to the old pipeline and a metal stile. Over the stile, turn right (north) and walk along the Ice Park access road. Past the Ice Park Reservoir (a great swimming hole for dogs), veer slightly off the road to a trail that soon crosses CR 361 and heads to the Box Caon high bridge. (If you decide to tour Box Caon Park, there is a $4 fee.) Cross the suspended bridge over Caon Creek's spectacular gorge to Ouray's old water tunnel. (The ceiling is low; watch your head.) Past the tunnel, steep stairs lead down the cliff along the gorge. The Perimeter Trail currently ends at South Pinecrest Street, a mile from the Visitors' Center. At this point, walk straight downhill to Queen Street, turn right, go a block to Oak Street and turn left. (Views to the north and east include Ouray; Gold Hill and the Blowout, 10,587'; Cascade Mountain, 11,000'; the Amphitheater and Cow Mountain, 13,111'.) Walk north on Oak Street past 7th Avenue to the City's Maintenance Shop near Fellin Park. Cross the footbridge and return to the Visitors' Center where you began. For those who wish to see a particular section of the Perimeter Trail, hike a connecting trail, or leave the trail part way, the map on the back shows several trail access points. The complete trail can also be shortened to 4.2 miles at the crossing of US 550 by turning right on the Ice Park Shortcut. You then will exit on the east side of the Uncompahgre Bridge. To continue, walk across the bridge and up CR 361 for 500' to the right hand trail leading to Box Caon High Bridge.

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Reviews (986)
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Activities (782)
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Travis Michaels
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HikingGreat!MuddySnow

Very adventurous trail. Amazing views. The length listed on Alltrails is incorrect. The loop is actually closer to 6.5 miles.

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eldy elena
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HikingBlowdownGreat!Rocky

Couple of down trees and icy in a few spots. Otherwise lovely! It's a Thursday in April so the only time seeing other people was around the waterfall.

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John Thoman
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HikingGreat!MuddyRocky

Some difficult stretches, this trail keeps you on your toes. Well worth it though, the scenary is absolutely spectacular.

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Aaron Imholt
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Hiking

Amazing!

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Rusty Garduno
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Hiking

Amazing views and the conditions were great. nothing special needed. a little snow and mud in spots.

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Rachel McCormick
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HikingIcySnow

Loved this hike! I put microspikes on 3 times and was glad to have them so I definitely recommend having them if you go now. Otherwise a really awesome trail for this time of year!

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Aurora Coffey
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HikingGreat!

My husband and I went to Ourray on our honeymoon and went for what we though was going to be an easy and short hike. Boy were we wrong! we ended up doing the whole perimeter which was amazing but difficult at times.

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Brittany Cook
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Hiking

Definitely suggest poles and spikes. Incredible trail!

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Aeolian Solo
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Hiking

Nice hike. Micro spikes and trekking poles are helpful but not necessary. Conditions varied between snow and ice, slush, rocky, and muddy. It’s marked pretty well but I made a couple wrong turns while checking out all the scenery! The trail gives nice views of Ouray and surrounding peaks and It was fun to watch the ice climbers. I would come back and do this hike in late spring early summer!

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Lance Dickinson
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HikingIcy

This just became my favorite hike of all-time. Challenging in parts, but great views, love the tunnel, saw ice climbers and sheep. Today there was snow, ice, mud and dirt trails. Recommend using micro spikes.

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Jared Laske
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Hiking

Cool trail.

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Stephanie Mayer
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HikingGreat!IcyMuddyRockySnow

Wow! Beautiful place to hike with lots of fantastic views and interesting things to see. It was fun watching the ice climbers. I started this hike from the west side and finally gave up trying to follow any signs on the northeast side. But with all my wrong turns, I ended up doing 8 miles. Here’s some very important things to note about the hike: if you start on the west side, you are in for a long and steady climb. Also, I would highly recommend spikes as there are several spots on the trail that are only about 8-12 inches wide, with sharp drops on one side. Finally, if you’re afraid of heights, this hike may not be for you. The trail was slushy because of the warm weather and very muddy in spots. Overall, an amazing hike on a lovely day that felt like spring!

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Haley Rogers
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IcyMuddySnow

Did this trail in January. Spikes are definitely necessary for winter and a couple times snowshoes would’ve been nice but very doable without. Highly recommend it!

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Calvin Peng
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Hiking
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Dusty LaFrance
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HikingIcyMuddyRockySnow

As others say in the reviews, this is a great hiking trail. Incredibly well marked by the city of Ouray. The fact that it's a loop gives you many different views and inclines and declines. Yesterday started out snowy but ended up being sunny. I would highly recommend spikes or microspikes, especially on the east side of the trail. I did the whole loop in about 2.5 hours with stops to take pictures.

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