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Top 5 Pagosa Springs Hikes

The sun setting on mountains at the far end of a remote lake

Looking for the best hikes Pagosa Springs has to offer? Whether you’re looking to bag 12,000-foot peaks or saunter up to a waterfall, Pagosa Springs has something for everyone. We’re happy to share a few of the best hikes near Pagosa Springs and where to find them.

1. Coyote Hill Loop

3.4 miles/moderate 

The Pagosa Springs mountain range dusted with snow

For a family-friendly stroll that will get your heart rate up a little, head to Coyote Hill for a nice loop hike. You’ll drive just out of town to the trailhead on the right side of Piedra Road just when the road turns to gravel. You may find a crowded trailhead, and for good reason! You’ll get great views of Pagosa Peak and west toward Durango. Meander through a vast meadow and through dense oak and ponderosa pine forests. 

Local Tip – In the winter, the trail is groomed by the Pagosa Nordic Club and is great for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Rent xc-skis or snowshoes at our winter partner Pagosa Ski Rentals.

2. Piedra Falls

1.0 miles/easy

Head out of town on Piedra Road to the beautiful Piedra River Valley. You’ll have incredible views of the surrounding Weminuche Wilderness and meander your way along the river. After about an hour of driving on Forest Service roads, you’ll reach one of the most popular hikes near Pagosa Springs, a huge cascading waterfall with dominating views of huge peaks in the background. While it’s a short hike, be sure to check road conditions. The trail is generally only recommended in the summer. 

Local Tip – If the short hike leaves your legs wanting more, check out the Piedra River Trail on your way back to town.

3. Rainbow Hot Springs 

10 miles/moderate

A man sits back in a natural hot spring pool

To have a little bit more of a backcountry hot spring experience, go to one of the best Pagosa Springs hikes for the adventurer in your group. This 10-mile out-and-back trail is great for a backpacking trip if you’d like more time to soak in the hot spring and less time on the trail.  This Pagosa Springs hike is recommended in the summertime as it is difficult to access in the winter. Be sure to bring plenty of water for the hike!

Local Tip – In 2013 a massive forest fire ran through the West Fork.  Because of this, the wildflowers are absolutely amazing at their peak in late June and July.  Check out Matt Martin’s vlog to get a better idea about the hike.

4. Opal Lake Trail

2.3 miles/easy 

You’ll drive south of town this time toward the beautiful upper Blanco Basin to get to Opal Lake. Perfect for a nice family stroll, the trail makes its way up a pitch before getting to a shimmering lake surrounded by craggy peaks. It can be kind of steep and muddy at the beginning, so bring shoes with good traction. You’ll want to wear bright orange in the fall hunting season as it’s a popular place for elk hunting.

Local Tip – The drive to the trailhead takes you through one of the most impressive aspen groves in the area to see the fall colors. ThisIsPagosa has a great YouTube video for this hike.

5. San Juan Riverwalk

3.4 miles/easy

The river running through downtown Pagosa Springs

For one of the easiest Pagosa Springs hiking trails which still offers lovely views, you’ll want to check out the paved San Juan Riverwalk. You’ll meander through downtown, passing by the popular commercial hot springs and shops. Follow the river all of the way to the bridge to see plentiful bird life along the marshes. In the summertime, you can watch rafts, kayaks, and tubers go through the town’s splashy surf waves. If watching people play in the river piques your interest, pick up a Pagosa Springs tube rental, SUP rental, or Pagosa Springs kayak rental and get in on the fun!

Local Tip – Stop at our favorite “Back Alley, Riverfront Espresso & Cocktail Bar,” Root House directly across from the Hot Springs Resort. You might even see some famous HGTV stars behind the counter.

Pagosa Outside 

A group of rafters in a blue boat navigate through rapids

If you’re in town for some Pagosa Springs hikes, you may also want to check out some of the high-adrenaline activities the town has to offer. Head to Pagosa Outside for the thrill seekers in your group. Here you can book San Juan river rafting trips on the headwaters of the beautiful Upper San Juan River. There are trips for everyone, ranging from action-packed Class III+ whitewater, to the family-friendly Mesa Canyon trip, one of the top Pagosa Springs family activities. Or if you’re in the mood for a quick adventure, checkout the Splash and Dash for a float through the downtown Pagosa whitewater park. Later in the summer, you can rent tubes to cool off on those hot days. If the Pagosa’s river scene isn’t your thing, you can experience kayaking Pagosa Springs and rent kayaks or stand-up paddleboards to enjoy the calmer waters of Pagosa’s many lakes