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Purgatory Trail is a 10.3 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Durango, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 10.3 miles Elevation Gain: 1,820 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly

kid friendly

hiking

horseback riding

nature trips

walking

bird watching

forest

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

rocky

This trail is used for camping. You head down on switchbacks and into the forest. It opens up in Purgatory Flats area on Cascade Creek. A rest stop for main camp site, then from there you can hike different trails.

snowshoeing
1 month ago

Great snowshoeing trail. Gorgeous views. Remember to save enough energy to come back up!

hiking
icy
off trail
scramble
washed out
2 months ago

hiking
snow
3 months ago

Great day snowshoeing. Trail visible. Parking was limited. Stunning views all around. As mention below, switch backs to the river below means you have to go back up. So with snow plan accordingly. Kid friendly.

hiking
5 months ago

Definitely dog friendly and an easy scenic hike. But what goes down must come up! Very nice hike!

Gorgeous trail! We had small children with us, so we only made it a little over 3 miles round trip, but we were able to make it over to see the creek. The views were stunning the whole way. Would love to come back and do this again.

hiking
6 months ago

Beautiful fall hike!

6 months ago

We’ve hiked this trail several times and we love it. It’s a little too easy at first as you are hiking down switchbacks to the valley/river floor. Just remember you have to come back up the same way after almost 10 miles of out and back. Once you have hiked through the valley or next to the river you ascend reasonably slowly up the side of the mountain and have nice views of the river. The trail has a sheer side which adds drama at a few points, but it feels safe enough for kids that are not overly adventurous/crazy. Once you hike around the side of the mountain you hike back down to the valley where the rivers intersect. Walk across the footbridge and follow the trail to the train tracks. The train coming across the trestle/bridge makes for some great photos. They run at different times depending on the season, but we start to see them at 10:30 in the am and 3ish in the afternoon. Call the DRR office and ask about flagging the train down on its way back into town in the afternoon. It was only $35, and had the best views...and you or some of your party don’t have to hike back up those switchbacks.

hiking
7 months ago

Great hike.

hiking
7 months ago

We loved this hike. It was the first leg in a 7 mile backpack for us. It is a nice steady down hill until you get to cascade creek. Here you could stop and turn around but why miss out on the rest of a beautiful hike. If you continue on along the tail you will pass through some pretty tall grass but the trail is totally visible. From here you will follow along the creek until to get to the Amimas River - a much larger body of water. Here there are several great campsites. There is a bridge across the river and more camping on the other side. This was our stopping point for lunch. If you follow the trail straight across after crossing the bridge you will head north and cross the railroad tracks. This trail will take you about another 5 miles to the Needles trail. Here there is also a stop for the train. We had an amazing hike in and camp over. Being from Arizona it was super nice to hike near water. Definitely worth the trip. Don’t under estimate the hike back out. It is a pretty steady uphill climb most of the way.

hiking
7 months ago

Great and beautiful trail. Caution with the mosquitos. There were wild raspberries and wildflowers.

hiking
8 months ago

7/28 - Great out and back hike with numerous overlooks and beautiful views! Wildflowers in bloom and lots of butterflies, which my 8 year old loved. Enjoyed resting by the river and feeling the crisp water. Return trip is the more challenging leg as it’s all uphill.

hiking
bugs
rocky
8 months ago

hiking
muddy
9 months ago

While a few sections along the river were muddy, nothing was impassable. A great day hike, good for kids and dogs. The trail was moderately trafficked with day hikers, horseback riding and a few backpackers. We did not have too many bugs and a good mix of sun and shade. The hike back is uphill so certainly good to consider how far you go with an uphill return if with kids.

hiking
bugs
9 months ago

Hiked only to the river and back for 3 miles round-trip. Mosquitos were bad and it rained on us for 2/3 of the hike but it was worth it. The trail drops into the valley quickly making the return portion of the hike much harder than the start.

hiking
bugs
9 months ago

Absolutely stunning walk into the valley. Trail continues alongside Cascade Creek and eventually meets a confluence with the Animas River. Mosquitos and a bit of mud near the water.

hiking
muddy
9 months ago

hiking
no shade
10 months ago

Gorgeous trail, easy parking. The trail is unique in that it is actually downhill on the way in and uphill on the way out. It isn't that strenuous at all, mostly a relaxing hike. The land is truly beautiful, I imagine some of the best Colorado has to offer. We spent an entire area laying in the grass in the valley where the animas river flows. We went in mid May and there was a little snow at the top but not bad at all. There was one slightly tricky river crossing but again not bad.

hiking
snow
Sat Feb 02 2019

Great winter hike! Trail ends 2.5 miles in and a bit hard to walk at the end but it was worth the try. Beautiful view, well maintained.

hiking
Tue Oct 02 2018

Goes down first, then back up so save a little energy. Easy. There are a few side trails, but these seem to go to campsites. When in doubt go right. Lovely aspen groves and amazing valley with aspens. Can pick any distance on this out and back since it doesn't lead to anything amazing like an alpine lake. Colors past their prime, but worth hiking in the fall. For more info and pics visit https://etbtravelphotography.com/2018/09/30/roadtrip-to-the-rockies-from-telluride-to-durango/

Sun Sep 30 2018

Great trail, easy to follow, and great for kids. Our five year old completed the round trip down to the river and back up - circa 3 miles. It was not too crowded despite the weather and fall colors and there is plenty of parking at the trailhead.

Wed Sep 26 2018

Amazing trail. I was blown away. One of the best trials I’ve been on in the 40 or so hiked I’ve done in Colorado. Not easy by any means. For sure a moderate trail.

hiking
Sat May 19 2018

Fabulous hike and well worth the 9.5 miles to the camp ground and back. Views of the river are amazing

hiking
Sun Dec 31 2017

Beautiful!

hiking
Thu Oct 12 2017

Lovely- good descent in- and out - lovely views- we didn't go all the way to the campgrounds. Lots of aspens.

Mon Oct 02 2017

Gorgeous fall colors & panoramic views

hiking
Mon Oct 02 2017

We LOVED this trail! Coming from Ohio, the elevation was challenging for us. An easy Colorado trail is equivalent to a moderate to difficult trail back home. The fall colors were amazing, no picture could ever do it justice, you MUST see this place in the fall!! Quite a few people with dogs off leash, but they were all friendly and minded their owners so no issues there. I could spend all day here!

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