Purgatory Flats is another fabulous hiking trail in the Durango CO area. We were fortunate to hike with David and Kathryn from the hill country of Texas. Hiking with another couple allowed us the ability to shuttle to the trailhead leaving one vehicle in town.
The trail begins near Durango Mountain Ski Resort at around 9000 feet. It quickly descends to the Purgatory Flats area where Lime Creek joins Cascade Creek on its way to the Animas River. After hiking the flats the trail enters a narrow canyon and the trail goes up and down sometimes steeply. The views of the creek and rocky cliffs are amazing. The Summer rains caught up to us just before the final switchback descent to the Animas River. Overall we hiked about 5 miles in 4 hours with many scenic breaks.
By the time we reached the river our overall descent was about 1100 feet. We crossed the Animas on a beautiful wood deck suspension foot bridge. This lead us to the Durango and Silverton RR pavilion where we waited out the rain. After exploring the area up and down the river we flagged down the steam train headed back to Durango. Unfortunately the engineer failed to stop for 4 people flagging him down. He simply shouted over the din of the screaming locomotive “Catch the next train!”. Well, we knew the 4PM train was the only train allowed to stop but we were hopeful. Sure enough the 4:30 train did stop to pick us up. We all enjoyed the spectacular scenery of the rail route through Animas Gorge and arrived back in Durango.
Home to home it was a 12 hour day and we’d do it again in a heartbeat. The hike/train combo is one of our favorite outdoor activities.