And more Colorado… Purgatory Flats to Animas River & Ouray

Length = 10.3 miles

Difficulty = Moderate

Elevation Gain = 1820 feet

Purgatory Flats Trail

Just a heads up, the Purgatory FLATS Trail is not actually flat. The name is deceiving. Anyway, we headed the opposite way along Cascade Creek for this one, specifically, southeast towards the Animas River where the Cascade Creek dumps into the river. After parking across the highway from Purgatory Ski Resort, we hit the trailhead and descended down towards the valley below. The beginning was a twisting trail through the San Juan National Forest with rocky route amongst the Aspen Trees that had just recently lost their vibrant yellow leaves. Once you reach the valley, the trail flattens out, and you can hear the creek flowing beyond. This is moderate? I call shenanigans… this shit’s easy! I need to learn to keep my mouth shut.

We exited the valley and started up the side of a mountain. The trail hugs the mountain while gradually climbing higher in elevation. Cascade Creek has carved a path through the mountains we were traversing, and was oftentimes not even visible below. The never ending route meanders up and down and up and down the side of the mountain. Does this little bastard ever conclude? I love long hikes, but at some point I want some gratification, which in this case, would be arriving at the Animas River’s crystal clear waters.

Partway there, he heard a loud whistle. Apparently, Colorado still operates a good, old fashioned steam engine on it’s tracks! I tried to get a photo, but alas, my little point-and-shoot cannot work magic at that distance. Oh well. A short time later, we began descending into the pine trees below that border the river we were in search of. Gratification! The Animas River is clear and cold. We wandered the shores and discovered a fire pit with rocks for seats around it. Lunch time!

The way back was a repeat, but with a different ambiance as the sun began to set. We took a different route through the valley, meandering over to the creek. Just a short bit more and it’s home to the condo for dinner! Be prepared for the trail to give you a kick in the ass. That “easy” part at the beginning just turned villainous. After almost 10 miles of hiking, the last leg was that rocky path through the forest. Except this time, it’s all uphill. Spiteful trail is mocking me for calling it leisurely early on. Jerk. As I said, that’s what I get for not keeping my mouth shut. My legs paid for it.

The diabetic had a rough go on this hike, as he could not seem to keep his sugar level high enough to walk at anymore than a snail’s pace. He ate so many peanut butter protein bars in an attempt to raise his glucose that he can barely even look at them anymore. They used to be his favorite, but now he glares at them like one might a deplorable ex with a vindictive streak. So, I had to abstain from my normally swift pace in order to accommodate Hubs’ plummeting sugar level, since it’s generally frowned upon to leave a dead husband behind on the hiking trail.

This was definitely the busiest of the trails we hiked this trip, as we came across a dozen or so other hikers, several of which had their furry, four-legged friends in tow. Not so COVID approved, but what can I say? We’re daring like that!

All in all, it was a decent hike! Enjoy yet another photomontage since I tend to take far too many snapshots.

We spent an afternoon in Ouray, which took us awhile to learn how to properly pronounce, might I add. It was a tad disappointing, as many shops and restaurants were shuttered, to include Mr. Grumpy Pants Brewery. Boo. We opted for Maggie’s Kitchen, a tiny little restaurant with an outdoor deck overlooking the main drag. It featured some delectable burgers, sandwiches, and other comfort food. While a little on the pricey side, I gobbled up my turkey, bacon and avocado grilled sandwich on wheat without pause. Delightful spot for a sunny lunch.

There were a couple other boutique shops that were alluring, but many were very touristy and standard. Durango was unquestionably our favorite town thus far.

I think that’s it for Colorado. Time to drive to Colorado’s neighbor, Utah. Bon Voyage, Colorado! We will be back.

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