Beginner’s Trail Guide: Jud Wiebe in Telluride

The Jud Wiebe Trail is one of Telluride’s most-loved, and it doesn’t take long to figure out why. A minute in, and you’re already getting some of the most spectacular panoramic views that Colorado can offer. And they somehow just keep getting better.

How do I get there?

One drawback about Telluride is that it isn’t a quick trip from Denver. It’s at least six hours from Denver without traffic, so if you’re planning a visit, make it part of a road trip or a longer stay than just the weekend (unless you just really, really like driving).

The drive is one of my favorites in Colorado, with incredible scenery and plenty of fun places to stop along the way. Here are some ideas from my 2016 road trip.

Since you’re driving across almost the entire state (if you’re starting in Denver), there are multiple mountain passes you’ll have to drive over. You’ll be driving on all paved roads, but mostly on two-lane highways and not on major interstates.

Where do I go?

The trail leaves right out of town on North Aspen Street, so you can walk to the trailhead from just about anywhere. If you’re camping nearby, drive to Mountain Village, park, and take the free gondola into town.

I recommend starting at North Aspen Street so that you come down on Tomboy Road, which is a very rocky Jeep road that would be really unpleasant to hike up. Starting on Aspen Street is also very steep, but also beautiful and smooth.

What is the trail like?

Jud Wiebe, while not particularly long at three miles round-trip, is not for the faint of heart. It gains 1,300 feet of elevation over those three miles, or for us laymen, a s***-ton of hills.

Straight up, right off the bat.

You basically go straight up for the entire first half, then you get some flat, and then you go pretty sharply downhill for the last quarter of the trail. That kind of terrain can be tough on knees and lungs, especially with Telluride’s already-impressive elevation of nearly 9,000 feet (for reference, Denver is 5,280).

That’s not to say you can’t do it.

My lungs and legs were burning, but I took a ton of breaks (and brought lots of water!). You will get passed by old people that clearly do this trail every day. I would budget three hours to get through the trail just to be safe, meaning you’ll need to start early in the morning during summer to avoid storms.

The trail is exceptionally well-marked. There’s also really only one option while you’re out there (until you get to Tomboy Road) so it’s not hard. The entire trail is fairly smooth dirt.

What should I bring and wear?

Lots of water! I would recommend at least one liter per person for the hike, considering the elevation gain and the altitude.

The beginning of the hike is uphill and in the sun, so you’ll stay warm pretty easily. It doesn’t hurt to bring a light long-sleeved layer in your backpack since it can be chilly in the shade. Here’s what I bring on every hike.

Is it crowded?

Jud Wiebe is a very popular trail. But I’ve also hiked Bear Creek (another popular option that I do recommend) and found it to be much more crowded, maybe because it’s a jumping off point for a lot of longer trails. We saw several dozen people, plus a few mountain bikers, but not to the point that it was annoying. On a holiday weekend, it will be more crowded.

Anything else I should know?

If you’re torn between this hike and another, do Jud Wiebe. Bear Creek is beautiful and will always have my heart since it’s where my husband proposed, but the panoramic views on Jud Wiebe are second to none.

If you’re torn between this hike and Bridal Veil Falls, I’d also recommend going with Jud Wiebe. Bridal Veil Falls also has stunning views, but you are just hoofing it up a bumpy and rocky dirt road the entire time, so it’s not a great hiking experience.

The long drive, the uphill hike, the high altitude – the incredible scenery makes it all worth it. You get jaw-dropping mountain views, aspen tree meadows, rushing mountain creeks, and pine tree-lined forest. You can see Bridal Veil Falls, the town, and the entire valley floor. It’s a can’t-miss!

Views to the south of the entire Telluride valley

Published by Laura Cardon

Laura Cardon moved to Colorado as an adult and quickly realized how difficult it was to get started exploring the outdoors in a state full of experts. She founded Outdoor Beginner in 2014 to fill the gap in beginner-friendly content for camping, hiking, skiing, and other outdoor activities. In addition to Outdoor Beginner, she coaches beginner trail runners and works at Runners Roost in Golden, Colorado, where she lives with her spouse and toddler.

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