Animas River (675)

Animas River Trail

The Animas River Trail is an alternative to taking the train to get to Chicago Basin by connecting Purgatory Flats Trail #511 to Needle Creek Trail #504. The trail follows the riverbanks for much of its distance, offering fishing possibilities. The river canyon walls are steep and rocky, making the sun come up late and set early. There are many good campsites along the way. Since this is a major drainage, all water used should be filtered to prevent possible Giardia contamination. This trail is used by horse outfitters, expect to see horse traffic and be respectful of other trail users.

Fishing: The Animas River is rated good for brook, rainbow, and cutthroat trout.

  • Distance (one-way): 5.5 miles
  • Maximum elevation: 8,300 feet
  • Minimum elevation: 7,700 feet

At a Glance

Best Season: Summer
Restrictions: Non-motorized
Closest Towns: Durango, CO
Water: Available. Purification recommended
Restroom: None. Practice Leave No Trace.
Information Center: Columbine Ranger District

General Information


From Durango, CO:

  • Purgatory Flats Trail #511: Travel ~26 miles north of Durango on U.S. 550. Across the road from Purgatory Ski Resort, turn right (east) on Tacoma Drive. In approximately 0.2 miles, trailhead will be on the right and parking area on the left. 
  • Needleton Train Stop: Take Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad to the Needleton stop. Follow the Needle Creek Trail #504 approximately 3/4 miles to the junction with Animas River Trail.


River and Stream Fishing

Permit required?: Y

Day Hiking


Horse Riding

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Area/Length : 
5.5 miles

  Elevation : 
7,700 - 8,300