The Best Trail to Tavern Pairings in Telluride

Downtown Telluride, Colorado

20 years ago we got our start making fleece hats out of a garage in Telluride, CO. We’d go from the slopes to the office, climb a waterfall on our lunchbreaks  and end the night at one of Telluride’s best watering holes. So ya, we’ve got a soft spot for this little box canyon town. With 14,000-ft mountain peaks rising in the distance, nothing makes you want play hookie like a sunny day in the San Juan Mountains. And trust us, nothing is better for the soul than giving in.

Beautiful views await in Telluride, Colorado.Beautiful views in Telluride, Colorado.Rhonda Johnson

We call it the Trail to Tavern lifestyle. Spend a few hours getting your feet dirty outside, then kick ’em up with a cold beer at the end of the day. It’s easy to do in Telluride – since it’s a box canyon, every trail naturally leads you back to the taverns (no matter what the season). Here we’ve paired our favorite trail excursions with our favorite local bars. You’re in good hands – it’s a craft we’ve been perfecting for years!

Jud Weibe Trail + The Last Dollar Salloon (aka “The Buck”)

The Jud Weibe Trail starts and ends downtown, so it makes for a perfect trail to tavern experience. Named after the man who built it, the Jud Weibe is a go-to hike for Telluride visitors and locals alike (when the trail does not have snow) generally June through October. Start at the Aspen Street trailhead, where you’ll find a map kiosk next to a trio of boulders. Hike up and enjoy the 2,000 feet of elevation gain, which allows for beautiful panoramic views back toward town. You’ll cross Butcher Creek, walk through beautiful aspen groves, and be rewarded with a killer view at the trail’s high point of about 10,000 feet. Conveniently, this view and the bench to enjoy it comes about halfway through the 3-mile hike. Take a minute to soak it all in because it’s all downhill from here.

The Jud Weibe Trail is easily accessible by foot from downtown Telluride.The Jud Weibe Trail is easily accessible by foot from downtown Telluride.Ondrej Kavka.

At the bottom of the trail, you’ll pop out on North Oak Street, just a few blocks from what locals call “The Buck.” Officially known as the Last Dollar Saloon, this iteration of the local watering hole has been open since 1978, but the original saloon dates to 1899. With tin roofs and creaky wooden floors, the classic victorian building doesn’t hide its long history. The Buck doesn’t serve food; you’ll want to brown bag it, or have your name in for a table at the neighboring Brown Dog Pizza (more on that below).And don’t spend your last dollar, because you’ll want to put a couple in their jukebox (and as long as you don’t play “Don’t Stop Believing”, you’ll be welcomed back).

Telluride Ski Resort + La Cocina de Luz

Telluride ski resort has amazing skiing no matter what your skill level, but it’s known for diverse terrain, steep shots and deep powder. With over 300 inches of snowfall annually, you’re likely to get some good fresh snow, but you’re also likely to see a bluebird day, since Telluride gets an average of over 300 days of sunshine.

Even if you’re not visiting during ski season, you can ride up the gondola, a memorable part of any Telluride trip, and then hike or ride a bike down the resort’s network of trails.

The gondola at Telluride is a memorable experience in any season.
The gondola at Telluride. Ken Lund.

There’s nothing quite like a cheesy, spicy Mexican meal to help you recover after a full day of skiing or hiking. Finish your day (or get the evening started) at La Cocina de Luz. This restaurant focuses on whole foods and  a menu that will please every diner–whether vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free. If you’re there to recharge, try their organic juices. If not, start with a pitcher of house-made margaritas.

Bridal Veil Falls + Brown Dog Pizza

If we had to choose a single hike in Telluride, we’d be hard-pressed to find one that offers as beautiful a payoff as Bridal Veil Falls. The trail is actually an old jeep road heading up Black Bear Pass. The payoff we mentioned is the beautiful waterfall you’ll see, as well as the stunning views of the valley. This is no ordinary falls; Bridal Veil is Colorado’s largest free-falling waterfall at 365 feet. Round trip, the hike is only four miles.

Once you head back down into town, stop by Brown Dog Pizza, owned by Chef Jeff Smokevitch. Jeff knows pizza; he has studied at the International School of Pizza and has been rewarded for his hard work by winning top honors at the World Pizza Championships in Parma, Italy. Ask for the pizza that won the competition, or choose from deep-dish Chicago pizza, Detroit style pizza, classic American (round) pizza, as well as calzones and stromboli. So pretty much everything is awesome. Brown Dog offers a full bar and a fully-stocked tiramisu that may single-handedly convince you to move to T-Ride.

Wasatch Trail to the Falls + Smugglers Brewpub

If you’re looking for something a little more technical and challenging, Wasatch Trail will also give you fantastic views of Bridal Veil Falls. Start at the Bear Creek Trail, join the Wasatch and then go up and over the saddle between the Bear Creek drainage and Bridal Veil Basin, just above 13,000 feet.

Bridal Veil Falls is the highest free-falling waterfall in the state of Colorado.
Bridal Veil Falls is the highest free-falling waterfall in the state of Colorado. Wikimedia Commons.

You’ll hike past evidence of Colorado’s mining history, wildflowers when they’re in season, and breathtaking views of Bear Creek Canyon. You’re in for a big day if you do the entire loop; be sure you have enough water, proper gear, and navigation tools (the guidebook always helps).

You’ll deserve a cold one when you’re done. Head over to Smugglers Brewpub for craft beers and farm-fresh Colorado meats. Nearly everything in the kitchen is made in-house. This careful attention to detail is carried over to the bar, which features house-made bitters and delicious spirit infusions. If cocktails aren’t your thing, award-winning brewmaster Thomas Daly creates a variety of seasonal beers and classic lagers.

Smuggler's Brewpub in Telluride
Smuggler’s Brewpub in Telluride. lulun & came.

Valley Floor Trail + The Butcher & Baker Cafe

Our last pairing is for those who are already familiar with Telluride’s classics and want to try out two of the newer additions to town. The recently-protected Valley Floor Trail offers amazing ski trails, biking, hiking, and trail running; while the relatively new Butcher & Baker Cafe has a variety of food options.

First, the trails: In the winter, the Valley Floor has a network of beginner-friendly groomed Nordic ski trails, easily accessible from town. You can run the trails in the winter, as long as you are on the designated multi-use trails. When the snow melts, the entire area becomes a playground for trail runners, hikers, and mountain bikers. With over 500 acres in preservation, this area offers about a dozen miles of singletrack trails, all flat or rolling. As you move around this open valley, you’ll get a different view of the box canyon that makes Telluride so special. To get there from town, just take the San Miguel River Trail west.

When you’re good and tired, head back east to the Butcher & Baker Cafe for killer fresh-baked pastries. If you must have some protein, they’ve also got a full selection of breakfast staples like omelets to complement the pastries. Check their schedule online for specials and events. They have liquor tastings and the occasional prix-fixe menu (the “Birds and Bubbles” dinner pairs homemade organic fried chicken and a flight of champagne. YUM). While these two haven’t been around all that long, we think they’ll become classics in due time.

Want to win a 4-day trip to Telluride for you and a friend?

tco-f16-telluridesweeps-entrypage-1

 

Prepare for your trip with our exclusive Telluride Heritage Collection:

T2Tlaydowns

Originally written by RootsRated for Toad&Co. Featured image provided by Jared Skoviak