Ouray Perimeter Trail – Ouray, CO 6/21/21

Monday, June 21, 2021

Ouray Perimeter Trail – Ouray, Colorado

Sunny, clear, mid 80s

Ian and Court

4.05 miles

We took a long weekend and flew to Ouray/Ridgway/Telluride for the third time in the past year. We are really falling in love with this place. Originally, this weekend was meant to look at properties for a vacation home, but we decided the market is just too hot right now, so we used it as just a fun trip to explore more of the area.

The Perimeter Trail is exactly what it sounds like: a trail that goes around the perimeter of Ouray, clinging to cliffs, providing great views of the town and also a few waterfalls and plenty of elevation changes. We did about 80% of the trail, as we had a jeep tour lined up for the afternoon and were on a time schedule, but we probably could have done the entire thing in the end. Oh well, next time.

We started around 8am at the Amphitheater Campground on the south side of town where the box canyon ends (begins?) and went counter-clockwise. The trail on the east side was fully in shade, as the sun was yet to come up over the mountains on that side. We first came to Cascade Falls, which are the most famous and visible of the falls in Ouray.

We met a couple there from Oklahoma who were nice enough to take our picture in front of the falls. They then told us they were going to scramble up the side and go to the top of the falls. This looked fairly dangerous, but we told them good luck and continued on our way. On the other side, I found a ledge that went out to the falls and followed it out a little ways. I didn’t go too far, but I felt like John Muir climbing out behind Yosemite Falls without any gear, though he did it a few thousand feet up and I was only about 30 feet up.

Getting pretty close

I could see across the falls to where the Okies were climbing up and I think they were realizing their plan was a bit ambitious. We didn’t stick around, but I’m betting they turned back.

Yeah, that doesn’t look safe

We continued on the trail and got some great views of the town and the hot springs park below. We found out later that the hot water is actually piped in from springs up in the mountains, which is a little disappointing, but whatever.

Hot “springs”

The trail eventually descended to ground level where it crossed the road to the other side. We took a quick restroom, snack, and sunscreen break, as well as a swing set break for Court. She’s a happy kid.


The climb back up the other side of the cliffs was fairly intense, especially with the rising sun beating down on us a bit more. Luckily we’ve been rocking the Peloton all during the pandemic, so we are in pretty good shape, though the altitude still took it out of us a bit. Austin is around 400 feet above sea level, so 7000 feet is a bit of a change.

We came to the second waterfall, which has a nice bridge over it and also a troll underneath.

Gotta pay the troll toll

After a short break we continued on and got to a rest spot with great views of town from the west side of the cliffs.

The trail kept climbing and went through a tunnel near Box Canyon falls on the south side. This is the gorge where the ice climbing takes place in the winter and has via ferrata in the summer. I plan to do both of these activities at some point in the future.

Box Canon (Canyon) sign
More stairs
Looking down into the gorge
Via Ferrata in summer – ice climbing in winter

We needed to exit the trail a little early to go meet Court’s parents for lunch before the jeep tour, so we left about a mile or so unfinished. We will certainly be back and will do this trail in its entirety, maybe with the pups next time.

End of trail pic

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