FATMAP by Strava

Pass Creek Trail: Out-and-Back


A popular conduit into the alpine.

Hiking Moderate

8.1 km
331 m
331 m
2-3 hrs
Low Point
3.2 km
High Point
3.6 km
Pass Creek Trail: Out-and-Back Map

The Pass Creek Trail is a popular conduit into the high alpine, beginning from Coal Bank Pass on the Million Dollar Highway. Easily accessible from nearby Durango, on every day of the week, Pass Creek is filled with hikers, mountain bikers, trail runners, and equestrians climbing into the beautiful alpine meadows high above treeline at the top of the trail.


The climb to get above treeline is fairly reasonable, but it still isn't easy: you'll have to gain over 1,000 feet of elevation just to reach the junction with the Engineer Mountain Trail. Along the way to the alpine, the trail still passes through incredibly scenic surroundings. It begins in a stunning meadow choked with wildflowers before quickly passing into tall timber. The trail traverses some exposed sections of bedrock and passes a small lake while climbing its way ever higher to the high alpine reward beyond.

The goal of the hike is to reach the stupendous high alpine fields of wildflowers found just above treeline. From these flower-filled meadows, you'll enjoy spectacular panoramic vistas of the San Juan mountains, with close-up views of Engineer Mountain looming above.

At the junction with the Engineer Mountain Trail, you can choose to hike either left or right to extend the hike and spend more time enjoying the alpine. And if you're looking for a true challenge, you can, of course, attempt to summit Engineer Mountain itself. See the route and description for Engineer, mapped separately.

Once done, return back down the Pass Creek Trail to your car.



Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.

Low Exposure

1 out of 4

The path is on completely flat land and potential injury is limited to falling over.


3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

between July and September


  • Alpine
  • Picturesque
  • Dog friendly
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features
  • Family friendly
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area