Hiking

In-town trails

Hawkins Preserve is 122 acre site with beautiful views of the Sleeping Ute Mountain, La Plata Mountains and the mesa. There is a paved trail that for those with limited mobility as well as a number of unpaved ones. There is also a small protected ruin and interesting natural vegetation. 

Carpenter Trail & Natural Area on the northern side of town offers a 1.5 mile paved trail with a number of dirt paths that wind up into the hilly surroundings. 

The Cortez area is a hikers playground with numerous options close by

Because of it's unique location between desert and mountain, visitors can choose to a wide variety of trails and settings, from dramatic, southwest canyon country to wooded mountain scenery with sweeping vistas.

If your goal is to combine hiking with a greater understanding of area ancient puebloan ruins then there are several options you might enjoy.

Canyon of the Ancients has a number of wonderful hiking trails that lead you past 700 - 800 year old ruins as you enjoy the spectacular setting. For more information go to Bureau of Land Management and to read about other people's experiences and suggestions, visit the following blog: Four Corners Hikes. Guided hiking tours of less visited ruins at Mesa Verde can be arranged by going to Mesa Verde Institute or to the tour registration site of Mesa Verde. Ute Mountain Tribal Park also offers full and half day tours of some magnificent sites.

If your goal is to get some mountain air and views then explore the options on the maps below. Sharks Tooth Peak trail offers views comparable to some 14,000 foot mountain trails without the extreme effort and time. In addition to that one, there are many, many other great trails to choose from!

Here is an excellent set of maps produced by Mesa Verde Country that review many of the hiking trails in the area. 

Overview and Tips

Hiking Maps & Trails: North of Dolores

  • Priest Gulch, Calico, & Mesa Verde trails
  • Dolores River Canyon
  • Lizard Head Wilderness Trail
  • Fish Creek & Upper Dolores Trails

Hiking Maps & Trails: North of Mancos

  • Indian Ridge, Colorado & Bear Creek trails
  • Sharks Tooth & Owens Basin trails

Hiking Maps & Trails: Transfer Recreation Area

  • Big Al, Transfer, Rim & West Mancos trails
  • Aspen Loop ATV trail
  • Coyote Park, Chicken Creek & Morrison trails

Some other great references include the websites for San Juan National Forest and for the San Juan Mountain Association