Telluride has so many great hiking options. Unfortunately, the summer months bring the monsoon season and there is a good chance that if you're out hiking long enough, you'll find yourself in a thunderstorm. If you're like me, you don't want to be struck by lightning. If there is a threat of thunderstorms in the area, you usually have a short window of time in the morning to get out and hike before the bad weather sets in. So where can you go to get great views without having to spend all day getting there? How about the Telluride Ski Area?
The See Forever Trail is aptly named. The trail rises straight up the spine of the ski area. The views from the trail are truly spectacular and continue to improve the higher you go. The beauty of the hike is that if you're in reasonably good shape you can complete a round trip hike on the See Forever Trail in about 2.5 hours, making this an ideal hike when your weather window is fairly small.
The trail starts out at the mid mountain unloading station of the gondola (Don't worry, it's a free ride). You could certainly hike up from either Mountain Village of from Telluride, but for the purposes of this hike description, we're only covering the See Forever Trail. You'll want to take the utility road that is straight outside of the gondola building. As you approach the bottom of the See Forever ski trail, resist the temptation to turn left and head straight up. The ski area puts a tape across this route to discourage you from heading that way. Instead, continue along the utility road until you get to a trailhead with a wooden sign that says "See Forever Trail". This is a single track trail that will take you to your destination.
The trail is relatively straight most of the way up. Technically, the trail ends near the top of chair 9. This is where the top of the See Forever Ski Trail is. The views from the top of chair 9 are fantastic. You can continue up the trail to Gold Hill and even beyond to Palmyra Peak. The distance, elevation gain and route map actually continue on to the top of the Gold Hill Express chair.
By the time we reached the top of the Gold Hill Express chair we knew that thunderstorms were not far off and decided it would not be wise to continue. That turned out to be a wise observation. Five minutes after we finished our hike the showers arrived along thunder and lightning. We were glad we turned around when we did. So get out early in the morning and you'll get in a good hike with great views in a short amount of time.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.