Ouray Perimeter Trail

MODERATE 117 reviews
#2 of 11 trails in

Ouray Perimeter Trail is a 4.9 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Ouray, Colorado that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
4.9 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1666 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

kid friendly

birding

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

Rings the town of Ouray. It is relatively easy, but has some areas that could be considered challenging for people not in shape. TRAILHEAD: 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. ATTRACTIONS AND FEATURES: 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.

hiking
59 minutes ago

Waterfalls, deep river canyons, stands of Aspen, rocky outcroppings... this hike has it all! We hiked this trail with our dog in the rain and sleet today and it was epic! The wintery weather combined with stunning views and varying terrain made for a hike to remember. We'll definitely be back!!

2 days ago

Great hike! There was so much variety -- waterfall, a cave you walk through, high bridges, mining roads and steep rocky parts. Awesome. We did go a bit longer ~6 miles. A part of the trail was closed near the end of our hike but it re-routed us back to town with no problems. We went clockwise starting at the big hot springs in town (south side of the town).

hiking
2 days ago

Loved it! Different view every corner you turn. Awesome to look down at the town and over at the mountains. Really beautiful.

hiking
9 days ago

Great trail! Just so everyone knows in advance, I don't think the 4.9 is correct.
1.Maybe this is just the linear measurement. Probably doesn't take into account the elevation changes.
2. Maybe it's not accounting for the longer distance added to the trail if you avoid the Ice Park shortcut.
3. This map doesn't show the new section they added just recently, Oak Creek Canyon. This new section adds probably another 1.5 miles (didn't note the amount, just estimating) and it's pretty strenuous.
My total for the entire loop was 7.7 miles according to a couple of apps on my phone. They were both within a tenth of a mile with each other so take that for what it is worth.
I also used this link that gives lots of pictures to help navigate (assuming you are doing the trail clockwise)

http://www.gjhikes.com/2012/09/ouray-perimeter-trail.html?m=1

The trail is well marked except for 2 places where the Ouray Trail Group could make an improvement.

1. At Baby Bathtubs it's a little unclear which line to take. Most descriptions mention staying on the north side of the stream but you actually need to go a bit further to pick up Portland Creek and you will be staying to the north of it. Until they get that corrected, when you first get to the Bathtubs go across right there at a slight diagonal. The trail is a bit faint on the other side but it's there.
2. It is a bit hard to interpret the trail just beyond the Potato Patch. There are a couple of poles/cairns to help guide you but it's still a bit difficult to see the line through this area due to it being mostly rock. Still, just work your way down to the hiway 550 crossing using the most logical line and you'll be fine.
I will try to post a current picture of the updated map.

hiking
11 days ago

11 days ago

One of my favorite hikes ever!! Such beautiful views. I went with my husband and toddler. Toddler was in his carrier the whole time because he fell asleep, but would have loved the waterfall. The first part was the most difficult. Very steep. It's also a little scary if you're afraid of heights, because you get close to the edge at times. Waterfall is beautiful!! Nice place to relax and enjoy a picnic.

hiking
12 days ago

excellent trail. you gotta watch your step in a few places where the trail gets pretty narrow. All in all it is an awesome hike. It has scenery of all kinds including: great mountain views, forest views where we saw lots of mule deer, lots of views overlooking the town of ouray, multiple waterfalls, and nice river views. highly recommend this trail. The perimeter trail map actually says the trail is 5.8 miles not 4.9 like it says on all trails. We walked from our hotel hot springs inn to the trail head. so total we hiked 7.6 miles.

13 days ago

You really have to watch yourself with the altitude up here, but the trail has some awesome sights and is well worth the trip. This trail also gives you plenty of opportunities to go explore the many other trails all around here.

hiking
20 days ago

hiking
20 days ago

I loved this trail but my fit bit and my husbands sunto watch said it was at least 7 miles and we didn't even complete the full loop back to the visitors center. It took us over 3 hours and I was exhausted. My brother and his wife bailed halfway through. Not for the faint of heart.

hiking
21 days ago

hiking
24 days ago

trail running
27 days ago

hiking
28 days ago

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

Just a disclaimer: we started this at 6:50pm. The sun set at 8:00pm. But nevertheless, we did the entire perimeter and finished by 9:15pm. The views were absolutely incredible! Very cool features - waterfalls, bridges, tunnels. But if you're scared of heights, word of warning and if you're not comfortable hiking in the dark, go in the morning.;) this was a perfect way to really get a good look at the heart of Ouray.

hiking
1 month ago