Valley Floor Hike
Telluride’s Valley Floor hike is lovely for all ages and abilities, offering opportunities for dramatic landscape views and mountain wildlife watching in all four seasons.
An ideal place to start is at the corner of Mahoney Dr. and Pacific St., an intersection located on the San Miguel River Trail. From here, hikers can head west, toward the exit of the canyon. This trail gets early morning sun and affords beautifully colored sunset views in the evening.
Bicycles, pets and pedestrians on foot are all welcome. Pets should theoretically be leashed, but often are not. Owners should always be prepared to clean up after pets.
With a soft dirt path to follow, any comfortable shoe will suffice on this easy, mild hike.
Once past the Shandoka parking lot on the left, and La Entrada residences on the right, hikers will enjoy the solitude of nature the rest of the way.
This trail follows the San Miguel River, with an option to cross a bridge and connect with the Valley Floor’s bike path on the north side of the open space.
Some small rolling hills exist, but the trail is mostly flat, making it ideal for children or those challenged by altitude.
In early spring, snowpack may still exist in shady areas and should be crossed with care.
As temperatures warm, wildflowers, bushes and coniferous as well as deciduous tress line the path.
Swampy areas exist on the north side of the trail, toward the middle of the Valley Floor. These wetlands welcome several species of waterfowl and are an ideal place to bird watch. Ducks, geese, magpies, warblers and other birds can be easily observed. Butterflies, caterpillars and other insects share this space too.
The river rises in spring, and the flow fluctuates with the melting snowpack conditions. Caution should be exercised when playing by the river, and this warning applies to dogs as well.
Water temperatures remain cold throughout most of the summer, though it’s common while walking to see others quietly tubing, rafting, kayaking or standup-paddleboarding the river.
In the summer, during the monsoon season, mornings are an ideal time to take advantage of hikes, as afternoons often bring in storm showers.
Some portions of the trail are not permissible to dogs during winter Nordic skiing.
In all seasons, hikers should maintain an awareness of the presence of other travelers. Mountain bikers enjoy the climbs and downhill experiences on Boomerang and other trails up the mountain on the south side.
At any point, and in any season, it’s easy to see the elk congregating in the Valley Floor. Those with good eyes may even catch a glimpse of a coyote.
This trail also connects with the bike path across from Society Circle. One can hike the bike path back to town, or remain on the river trail path.
At anytime, one can turn around and head east. The majestic view of Ajax Peak will lead hikers back to the heart of Telluride.
One can walk just a few minutes relaxing on the Valley Floor trail, or spend hours taking in what nature has to offer, all right on the edge of town.