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Ballard Mountain

An overlooked gem
id_1415982
Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length: 6.4 miles
Duration: Half day

Overview :  The San Juan mountains around Telluride offer some of the best adventures and views in all of Colorado, if not the entire US. Ballard ... more »

Tips:  This is a strenuous hike, and should not be attempted by those still adjusting to the high elevation of Telluride. I recommend only... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Bear Creek Preserve

The start of our climb begins in the gorgeous Bear Creek Preserve. Offering million dollar views right off the streets of Telluride, the preserve was a gift to the town and people of Telluride. Bear Creek Road can begins at the end of South Pine Street in the heart of Telluride. FYI: The walk up Bear Creek road to Bear Creek Falls is a perfect... More

2. Double Log Bridge

Around 0.8 miles up Bear Creek Road, you will come to an open meadow that descends down to Bear Creek. Cross a somewhat hidden log "bridge" and follow the trail that begins up the lower flank of Ballard. The trail comes to two separate junctions. Follow all junctions right, and begin the long and unyielding climb up Ballard.

Photo 1:... More

3. Following Footsteps

This trail was originally created by hearty miners and their mule teams over 100 years ago. The path is littered with remnants of their occupation, and the hike itself offers terrific insight on just how tough these men really were. Their is an old Boarding House where miners lived and worked out of in one of the basins below the summit of Ballard... More

4. Chuck's Legacy

As previously mentioned, both the Ballard and Deer Tail Basin Trail are old mining trails. Over the decades, they both fell into horrible disrepair due to Telluride's brutal winters, overgrowth, and tree fall. Ten years ago, local mountaineering legend Chuck Kroger made it his mission to re-establish both of these incredible trails, all by himself... More

5. A Dwindling Trail

Once you reach the alpine basin below Ballard, the trail may seem to disappear. Look for rock cairns and stay climbers left of the large rock monolith on the right of the basin.

Photo: The rock monolith in the alpine basin below Ballard.

6. Ballard's North Ridge

After the long and arduous hall through Ballard's endless switchbacks, you will eventually gain the Northern ridge of Ballard. You are now above treeline and soon begin to reap the rewards of your climb. Views of the ski area and Gold Hill, Palmyra Peak, Deer Tail Basin, and the town of Telluride will sooth those aching legs and lungs. The summit ... More

7. The Summit Couloir

The trail will come across the west face of Ballard, and you will find a loose and fairly steep couloir that leads straight to the top. Take your time and watch your footing.

Photo: Looking up the summit couloir.

8. The Summit

Ballard is the smallest peak around La Junta basin, and the true summit is at the top of the couloir. Silver Lake sits below you, with killer views of Tomboy Road and Ingram Falls out to the east. Ballard even offers a great shot of the three fourteeners Mount Wilson, Wilson Peak, and El Diente. Follow your ascent route down after taking in those ... More