After a drive to Telluride, it’s only natural to want to stretch your legs. While the oft-ranked best mountain town in Colorado is not short on scenic hikes, its new trail that takes adventurers up to Bridal Veil Falls is a show-stopper.

Tiney Ricciardi, The Denver Post

Bridal Veil Falls (pictured) is deemed the largest free-falling waterfall in Colorado at 365 feet.

Visitors have long been able to visit Bridal Veil Falls, a 365-foot waterfall deemed the largest free-falling one in Colorado, by hiking a 4×4 road that starts at the east end of the box canyon that surrounds Telluride. But in spring 2020, a new trail opened that allows hikers to climb about a mile to the falls without interference from cars.

“What we’ve always wanted was to get hikers off the county road,” said Josh Borof, president of the Telluride Mountain Club, a nonprofit that advocates for local recreation. “The amount of pedestrians walking this county road and number of Jeeps coming down the county road, it was super overcrowded. It was a poor user experience for the hiker.”

Don’t call it a hidden gem though: This out-and-back hike is already one of Telluride’s most popular. In its debut year, Bridal Veil Trail averaged 500 to 800 hikers per day, an “alarmingly high” rate of travel, according to 2020 usage data collected by the Mountain Club.

It’s no surprise given those who make the more than 2-mile round trip are rewarded with a challenging hike that includes numerous waterfalls among its beautiful scenery.

Maybe I shouldn’t be telling you about the Bridal Veil Trail, but chances are you’ve already heard of it. So here’s a reminder to leave no trace, pick up your dog’s poop and be polite to others while enjoying the area’s natural wonders.

What to expect

Though 1.2 miles one-way may not sound significant, the trail covers about 1,000 feet in elevation, so Bridal Veil Trail is steep, as though you’re walking up stairs the whole way. It’s also rocky and rugged like its natural surroundings.

From the moment hikers get on the trail, they’re enveloped in lush forest. The path crosses an area that is usually flowing with water — where the town plans to build a bridge in the future — and goes through several large boulders that have seemingly been cut in half. Trees provide a consistent canopy from the sun, giving off major FernGully vibes.

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