Durango a haven for good eats, treats

The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad runs a century-plus-old steam-powered locomotive on a 46-mile scenic journey.

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The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad runs a century-plus-old steam-powered locomotive on a 46-mile scenic journey.

When John Cohen has been away from his hometown of Durango for a period of time, he likes to visit a local jewel.

It’s right outside his front door.

Cohen, director of the Durango Area Tourism Office, said a favorite pastime of his is taking a walk downtown, which claims more restaurants per capita than San Francisco, many of them locally owned.

“You can talk about the train, the San Juan National Forest and Mesa Verde, but for me the historic downtown is the heart and soul of Durango,” Cohen said. “A stroll through downtown is pretty special.”

Any real discussion of what else to do in Durango starts with the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. The century-plus-old, steam-powered, locomotive includes a 46-mile journey snaking through the San Juan National Forest to and from the mining town of Silverton. Call 888-872-4607, or go to http://www.durangotrain.com for details. The town also is host to numerous festivals throughout the year worth checking out.

A few to consider:

Animas River Days runs June 10–12 with river-related events and other activities centered in Santa Rita Park. Info: 970-259-3583.

The 22nd annual Fall Photo Train of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is set for Sept. 24–25. Photographers of all skill levels are invited to snap shots of the fall foliage in all its glory through the San Juan National Forest.

A complete listing of seasonal activities can be found at http://www.durango.org.

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Where to bike:

Road routes

• Trimble Loop — Considered easy this route runs about 15 miles. Start at County Road 250, ride until you reach County Road 252. Turn left, go past Dalton Ranch and across Highway 550. Turn left on County Road 203, which takes you back to town.

• Elmore’s Loop — Head north on Third Avenue, which will become Florida Road (County Road 240.) Once on Florida Road, there will be a steady climb that ends at Edgemont Ranch. It loops approximately 26 miles.

Mountain biking routes

• Hermosa Creek Trail — This is one of the most popular single-track trails in Durango. It runs from Purgatory to Hermosa and is about a 20-mile ride. A dirt road takes you to the trailhead on the backside of Purgatory.

• Horse Gulch Trail — The trailhead is at Eighth Avenue and Third Street, with a parking lot along the tree line.

Where to hike:

• Goulding Creek Trail — This is a 6-mile hike that rises above Hermosa Cliffs. The trail begins about 17 miles north of Durango on the west side of Highway 550, mile north of Tamarron Resort’s entrance.

• Animas Mountain — This is about a 5-mile hike with views of the valley. To get to its start from downtown Durango, make a left on 32nd Street and follow it to its end on W. Fourth Avenue.

• Raider Ridge Overlook — This is a mile-long hike that offers views of Durango and the Fort Lewis College campus. To get there, follow Eighth Avenue, off College Drive to Third Street and about a block east to its end, the trailhead’s start.

Where to golf:

• Dalton Ranch Golf Club is set in the Animas Valley just north of Durango. Info: 970-247-8774.

• Hillcrest Golf Club is just north of Fort Lewis College campus above Durango. The course overlooks the town and is open to the public. Info: 970-247-1499.

Where to find awesome beer:

The town is blessed with several options for those in need of a brew to two after a hard day at play:

• Ska Brewing Co., 970-247-5792, http://www.skabrewing.com.

• Durango Brewery Co., 970-247-3396, http://www.durangobrewing.com.

• Steamworks Brewing Co., 970-259-9200, http://www.steamworksbrewing.com.

• Carver Brewing Co., 970-259-2545, http://www.carverbrewing.com.

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