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A fairly flat trail along the Animas River, providing an alternate approach to Chicago Basin.

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Point to Point

8,772' 2,674 m


7,688' 2,343 m


961' 293 m


1,446' 441 m



Avg Grade (3°)


Max Grade (13°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Swimming · Waterfall · Wildlife

Due to its proximity to a major road, the Purgatory Trailhead can be reached year-round.

As with any national park, the USFS requests dogs in this area be leashed. The Durango-Silverton Railroad prohibits dogs, so this is the easiest option for getting your dog into Chicago Basin (beware, most of the peaks there are too technical for Fido).


Prior to facilitating your hike with a description, please allow me to first make a plea to your senses. Why are you hiking this trail? The Durango-Silverton Railroad drops you off near the end and provides a unique experience involving views, beer, and rest. More information can be found in the Chicago Basin Trail description, or at their site, durangotrain.com/ride-us.

Maybe you have a dog who really wants to hike Chicago Basin's class 3 peaks. Maybe you're a glutton for punishment. Maybe you suffer from an incurable case of siderodromophobia. In any event, it seems you have decided to forego an awesome train ride in favor of a 10-mile slog through the desert. If this is the case, start your hike at the Purgatory trailhead off US 550. This is conveniently located on the east side of the road, right across from the well-signed Durango Mountain Resort, 27 miles north of downtown Durango. Find parking at the well-signed trailhead. Hike along clear trail before dropping about 500 ft and continuing along the class 1 terrain. In a little over 4 miles, cross the Animas River. The rest of this trail passes along its side, with little elevation gain (about 100 ft per mile). Wave at the trains passing by on the other side of the river. Yes, its passengers are having more fun than you are, and yes, you should've just paid the $50 or so for the damn ticket. At a little under 10 miles, come to a junction with the Chicago Basin Trail. Turn right to continue up into the basin, or turn left and hike 0.8 miles to make it to the Needleton stop on the train.

Flora & Fauna

Down this low there isn't much to see - it's mostly desert. Expect some prairie dogs and the occasional wildflower, but not much else.


Shared By:

Tyler Prince

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 12 votes


  4.0 from 12 votes
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in Colorado


8 Views Last Month
4,588 Since Apr 16, 2015
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Train traveling along the Animas River
Apr 22, 2015 near Silverton, CO
Train along the Animas River.
Apr 22, 2015 near Silverton, CO
Passing close to the cliff.
Apr 22, 2015 near Silverton, CO


Current Trail Conditions

Add Your Check-In


Aug 15, 2023
Better than current description would lead one to believe.
Jul 3, 2022
Shon Whitten
Went with Marc. Great 6.5mi
Jun 22, 2021
Nick Kepf
Sep 2, 2019
Holly Murphy
Hiked from the trailhead to the river. Beautiful turnaround point for lunch and a little fishing. (5.5 hours of hiking). Good hike. Big uphill home. 8.4mi — 7h 05m
Aug 14, 2019
Nathan Patella
Can confirm: hot, muggy, killer mosquitoes, long and somewhat boring. Only way in/out with a dog. Bring water; the Animas River is not that easily… 9.7mi
Jun 23, 2018
Noah Bannon
Apr 15, 2018
James Plotnik
Only ran into a couple of people. Pretty easy trail. There are several fallen trees across the trail that you have to climb over or under. 3.6mi
Jul 4, 2017
Nicole Manfredonia

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