Hiking the Jud Wiebe Trail, above Telluride

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This 3-mile (perhaps a bit more) hike requires some uphill slopes, but the climbing is worth it.  At the high point, you’ll enjoy stunning views of Telluride and the entire valley.  On the way up and the way down, you’ll pass through a tranquil forest that’s especially beautiful in autumn.  Expect to gain and lose about 1,200 feet in elevation, and spend at least 2 hours on the trail.

My Visit

The Jud Wiebe Trail starts here, across this footbridge, at the north end of Aspen Street.

Hmm.  Aspen.  I wonder if that’s any sign of what’s ahead?

Spoiler: yes it is.

TIP: Comet Falls is also nearby.  It’s about 1/4 mile from the Jud Wiebe Trailhead.  Just go straight at the end of the road, rather than turning left onto the Jud Wiebe Trail.  Since I was getting such a late start on my hike, I didn’t have time to go to the falls, then hike the trail. 

The Jud Wiebe trail requires a lot of effort, right at the start.  You’ll quickly be lifted up above the town, and have some nice views of the aspen-lined streets.

For a while, the trail has plenty of open spots, giving great views that just keep improving as you gain elevation.

Eventually, you’ll pass into an aspen grove.  It looks like, around the first of October, I was just a week too late to see the best colors.  Many of these trees were now skeletons, but at least the ground was pretty!

There were patches of bare trees, and patches of aspens that were still holding on to their golden leaves.

And occasionally, a strong breeze would blow through the trees, sending a shower of leaves raining down on me.

You’ll see a sign to point you in the right direction, at the junction where Jud Wiebe trail splits off from Deep Creek Trail, which connects with Mill Creek Road.

Stay on Jud Wiebe Trail, and you’re still gaining elevation.  Obviously at this point, you’re hiking across a dramatic slope.  Views of the mountains and the town are somewhat obscured by the trees.

But, just before the trail’s high point, you’ll break out of the aspen grove and hike across a bare spot on the mountainside…

… which provides the perfect place for an incredible view like this one.

This visual treat continues for a few minutes of slow hiking, as you breathe in the thin air and soak in the view.

There is, or was, a bench at the spot that I’m assuming is the high-point on the trail.  Hopefully it will be put back together by the time you get there.

What a panorama!

From the high point, the trail heads towards a valley…

… and drops into another aspen grove.

This part was beautiful, too, but also a little bit spooky.  The sun hadn’t quite gone down yet, but very little light was making its way into this hollow.

There were only occasional breaks in the canopy of leaves, allowing brief views of the nearby mountains.

If it was earlier in the day, I would have spent more time photographing spots like this one, where a footbridge takes you across a small creek.  But, it was late, and I was starting to wonder if I was going to get caught in the woods, after dark.

And I did, almost.  I was still in the forest when the sun set.  At first I was disappointed that I hadn’t found a spot with a clear view of the horizon — but then I figured out that the view was even better, right here.

Instead of hurrying towards Tomboy Road, I slowed down here, and shot the sun through the trees.

And then, I turned around and discovered the brilliantly lit aspens behind me.

After the sun set, the clouds lit up and the sky turned red.

I was still amongst the trees, and that was a good place to be.

As I made my way closer to the end of the hike, there were fewer trees, which was good.  I needed to hurry to get back to town before it was completely dark.

Even the silhouette of this microwave tower was beautiful in front of the post-sunset sky.

I came upon even more beautiful fall leaves as I reached the end of the trail.  I tried to take a few more pictures, but realized my camera was slowing down, and everything was getting blurry.  So I put the camera away and finished the hike.

From the trail’s intersection with Tomboy Road, it’s only about 10 minutes of walking to get back to the middle of town.

The Bottom Line

Despite the effort it takes to make the initial climb, this is a great trail that’s not terribly difficult, and yields big rewards.  The views of Telluride and the surrounding mountains are spectacular.  It’s even better in autumn, when fall leaves add extra color to the hike.  If you have 2 to 3 hours of spare time in Telluride, you should consider this hike as an option.

Location

From downtown Telluride, take Aspen Street north (headed uphill).  The trailhead is at the end of the street.  A sign will direct you to turn left and cross a bridge.  There are a couple of other junctions in the loop, but they are all well-signed.

The trail almost makes a loop.  It ends along Tomboy Road — allowing you to follow the road back into downtown Telluride.

Drivelapse Video

Check out this time-lapse, dash-cam video of the drive through Telluride:

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