Round Trip Distance: 8 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
MTB Skill level:
Elevation: 7,568 - 10,011 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 5 hrs. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Dallas
Fee: none
Attractions: Popular forest trail/backpacking

The Dallas trail is located in the Mountain Division of the Uncompahgre National Forest near Ouray, Colorado. The trail begins off of County Road 17 near Ouray, Colorado where it begins by ascending a series of switchbacks that take if from the valley floor up a steep mountainside. After the initial climb the trail continues gaining elevation until by the time that it reaches Moonshine Park, some 4 miles from the trailhead, it tops out at just over 10,000 feet. The Dallas trail is connected to by the Corbett trail at the 1 mile point and then once again 2.5 miles later.

To get to the Dallas trailhead drive 1.8 miles north on US-550 measuring from the Ouray Visitor Center. Cross the bridge over the Uncompahgre River and turn right onto County Road 17. The trailhead will be on the left in about a third of a mile after crossing Corbett Creek.

After passing a trail registry the route begins climbing a set of long sweeping switchbacks. Care should be taken on the steep mountainside not to knock rocks down on any hikers that might be below. If you do knock something loose the accepted practice is to yell 'ROCK' as loud as possible. People have been killed in other places from rocks no bigger than a fist even when wearing a helmet. It is something that you probably don't have to worry about on this particular trail yet it is always good to be aware of the possibility.

There are a few places during the initial climb where the trail gets a little narrow but the trees and brush growing on the side of the mountain seem to add a feeling of security. As the trail climbs along the face of the cliffs from one bench to the next hikers are treated to a delightful scene of red rocks that contrast well with the green foliage.

Near the 1 mile point the trail comes to a junction where the Corbett trail branches off on the left. The Corbett trail runs up the drainage on the south side of the mountain and later crosses back over and rejoins the Dallas trail.

After the junction with Corbett the trail continues climbing as it wraps around to the north side of the mountain.

The trail continues past the site of an abandoned mine where it picks up another set of switchbacks to ascend.

The elevation profile of the Dallas trail is interesting in that even though the steepness of the mountain changes over the 4 mile stretch from the Dallas trailhead to Moonshine Park the trail maintains an almost constant 17% grade thanks to the switchbacks and the way that the trail is routed. The total climbing elevation for the trail comes out to 3,060 feet.

At the 2.5 mile point the Corbett trail joins back in again. Both trails can be combined to make a loop that is a little over 6 miles in total round trip distance measuring from the Dallas trailhead.

A little less than a mile from the last Corbett/Dallas junction there is another intersection where a half mile long spur trail that runs over to another point in the Corbett trail comes up. We have yet to hike this spur so it doesn't show up on any of our maps but it is well marked with signs on both ends.

Eventually the trail breaks out into a large meadow as it enters the lower end of Moonshine Park. From here it continues along the grove of aspens on the right to the top of the meadow and the highest point of elevation.

If you want to make it above 10,000 feet you will need to keep hiking to the top of the meadow. The trail around the meadow is very pretty and well worth the little bit of extra effort that it takes. From the top of the meadow the Dallas trail continues for a little over a half mile until it reaches Forest Road 852. For this post we turned around at this point and returned back down the mountain.

The Dallas trail is popular with backpackers, horseback riders and mountain bikers as well as with hikers. The backpackers are often in groups and being led by one of the local guides. As for mountain bikers they are usually only going in the downhill direction. Some horseback riders might not feel comfortable on the narrow trail near the bottom of the mountain although we did see fresh tracks when we took the photos for this post. (We used to move cows up the Book Cliffs to the Roan Plateau on trails that were so steep and narrow that we sent one cowboy up on foot and then dismounted and pushed the cows and our horses up the trail ahead of us. That way if they slipped we weren't obliged to go down with them.) Whether you hike all of the Dallas trail or just enough to get a good view of things chances are good that you will enjoy what it has to offer. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.