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.

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).

Ok, so let’s assume you’re already in Telluride.

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.

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 also got passed by a MOUNTAIN BIKER insane enough to want to bike up this trail. 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 and easy to get to. You can walk to the trailhead from anywhere in town. I would recommend starting at Aspen Street instead of Oak Street. The insane scenery I saw right off the bat from Aspen Street helped motivate me to keep hiking – I can’t say I would have been as into it if I had to start on the switchback-ey rocky “road” that is the Oak Street trailhead.

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.

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 an unpaved road the entire time, so it’s not a great hiking experience.

Jud Wiebe has non-stop views on a trail that’s really fun to hike, so if you’ve only got the time (or inclination) for one hike, do this one.

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