Why we love it: We're leery of a hike that starts in town, mainly because we're convinced the majority of the scenery will be of someone's backyard. Not so on Bear Creek Trail , where you'll quickly ditch buildings for aspen groves, wildflowers, and, of course, a waterfall.
When to go: By our estimation, this trail is recommended to visitors by every hotel in the area—with good reason (see above). To avoid the tourists gasping for air, strike out early in the morning when the birds aren't scared away by the constant trudging of sneakers. Bonus: Stop by Baked in Telluride  pre-workout to pick up a sesame bagel with veggie spread. You'll find plenty of spots to nosh your take-out breakfast along the path.
We had planned to head to Santa Fe this Memorial Day, but my husband, Chris, turned to me on Tuesday and said: "One word: Telluride." My response? One word: Yes. Chris often plans our vacations by pulling out a map, pointing to a spot we've never been, and taking off. Telluride had been on our must-see-list for some time, but we never seemed to make the nearly seven-hour drive. The long holiday weekend meant we could tackle the journey. What it didn't allow for, though, was a long hike once we arrived.
I was bummed that we'd have to settle for a more tourist-y jaunt like Bear Creek Trail, which starts on the south end of Pine Street, because much of the Telluride area is still too muddy or snow-packed for casual hiking. I was wrong. Bear Creek is convenient, but it is anything but ho-hum. The 2.5 mile trek (one-way) to a stunning waterfall (what waterfall isn't stunning?) is a favorite for families, runners, and out-of-town guests. Join the masses. It is worth it.
Getting there : For a more scenic drive, take U.S. 285 south to U.S. 50. In Montrose, drive south on U.S. 550 to CO 62 (23.3 miles). Turn left onto CO 145 (12.7 miles). Once you are in Telluride, find Pine Street. The trailhead is accessible on the southern end of the road.