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May 01, 2024 3 min read

The Durango area has hundreds of miles of trails open to hiking, leading you everywhere from quiet in-town riverside trails to 13,000-foot peaks–all of which can be done as a day hike.

The scenery may be memorable, but make sure you are prepared before you lock your car door and hit the trail. Packing a few essentials will ensure you are safe, warm (or cool), and happy. Here’s a list of items to consider when packing to hike in Durango.

What to pack for a day hike in Durango

Backpack: A comfortable backpack with a capacity of around 20-30 liters should be good for a day hike. Backpacks range from cheap big box store packs to expert-made packs loaded with features and goodies. After determining what size you need, make sure it fits you properly and isn’t uncomfortable, too tight, or too loose.

Water: Bring at least 2 liters of water per person to stay hydrated, especially at higher elevations where dehydration is a risk. Summer can be hot in Colorado, even in the mountains, and becoming dehydrated is among the most dangerous things that can happen. Venturing to a spot with water? If so, it makes sense to pack a small water filter. The new generation of water filters is surprisingly affordable, light, and easy to use–stop byDurango Outdoor Exchange to learn more.

Food: Pack high-energy snacks like trail mix, granola bars, nuts, and fruits to keep your energy levels up. 

Navigation: Carry GPS device to help you stay on the trail, especially if you're hiking in unfamiliar territory. The Colorado Trail Explorer (COTREX) app shows all local trails and has an option so maps can be downloaded for easy off-line use. Remember to charge that battery and bring along a power bank.

Sun protection: Colorado's high altitude means intense sun exposure. Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat to protect your skin and eyes. Also consider lightweight long-sleeve shirts with hoods and built-in SPF protection.

Clothing: Dress in layers to accommodate changing weather conditions. Include moisture-wicking base layers, insulating mid-layers, and a waterproof outer layer. Don't forget extra socks and a hat and gloves if it's cold and wet. Headed into the high country in June, July, or August? Keep in mind that severe thunderstorms can develop in less than an hour, and that snow can fall all summer long.

Footwear: Wear sturdy, comfortable hiking boots or shoes with good traction to navigate varied terrain. Not a frequent hiker? There’s no need to spend a lot of money on shoes you rarely use–buying used can be a great bargain.

Other items to consider bringing on a day hike in Durango

  • First aid kit
  • Emergency shelter such as a space blanket or bivy sack
  • Multi-tool or knife
  • Headlamp or flashlight
  • Fire starter
  • Whistle
  • Personal ID and contact information
  • Trash bag
  • Trekking poles
  • Insect repellent

Where to hike in Durango?

Durango has oodles of trails both in town and just outside, with nearly endless options. Did you know you can hike from the city limits all the way to Denver on a single uninterrupted trail?

Some hiking locations include:

  • La Plata Canyon: Follow old mining roads up to rarely visited peaks
  • Animas River Trail: Right in town, spot birds and the train
  • Colorado Trail: Starts in Junction Creek and leads 567 miles to Denver
  • Coal Bank Pass: Wind through old forests for an eye-popping view of Engineer Mountain
  • Cascade Creek: A mellow hike that leads to numerous waterfalls

Looking for something else? Stop byDurango Outdoor Exchange and let our expert staff suggest something for you!

Chase LaCroix
Chase LaCroix

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