It's hard to believe that so many amazing hiking trails exist right outside our doors in Ouray County!
Whether you would like just a quick trek to a secluded valley or waterfall, or prefer to spend an hour or more to experience scenery seen by very few people, the options are limitless it would seem.
The Perimeter Trail, which circles the city of Ouray can appear daunting at first, but is worth every step! One of the many great things about this and several other hiking trails in the area, to me, at least, is the variety, and the chance to explore a different trail if you so desire. That also leaves a variety of spots to start the trail, and because it is a loop, you get right back to where you started without ever seeing the same thing twice.
After walking about in town for a little bit the other day, we found ourselves at Cascade Falls. Wandering about the trails at the base of the waterfall, we happened upon a trailhead for the Perimeter Trail, and decided to follow it for a while, heading toward the Ampitheater. From the Lower Cascade section, the trail heads up for a little bit through the forest with occasional glimpses of the town below.
The trail meanders down a little, then joins with the Baby Bathtub Trail. Evidence of Mother Nature abounds, as the trail goes from clear and dry, to muddy, and then a little patch of snow. Cresting the trail, and heading down toward the Highway 550 crossing, be sure to watch for cactus. Its hard to believe, but there are small cacti in the area, so best to stay on the designated path, and if you have your dog with you, keep them on a leash.
Once across the highway, you will find yourself on a portion of the Ice Park Trail, skirting the Uncompahgre Gorge, with yet another view of town far below. From there, it is on to the upper portion of the Box Canyon Park, crossing the gorge on a hanging bridge hundreds of feet above the canyon.
After crossing the gorge, and walking through a low tunnel, the trail winds down and connects with Queen Street, then follows Oak Street, in town, offering more awesome views as we traveled past beautiful historic homes and almost past the 4J Campground, crossing the Uncompahgre River to the visitors center, which is the technical beginning of the hike.
Crossing the highway, we followed the trail back along Cascade Cliff, finally back where we had begun, at the base of Cascade Falls.
It was with a feeling of accomplishment, that we finished our walk, skipping down 8th Avenue, then along Main Street. There was no guilt at all in agreeing lunch was earned, and a Cascade Sandwich at Roast & Toast Cafe, along with an iced chai sure did taste good!