Hoffheins Connection shares a trailhead with Dry Fork and the two are actually one in the same for the first section of trail before they split. Shorter than the Dry Forks Loop, Hoffheins Connection offers a straight shot to Gudy’s Rest, which overlooks Junction Creek drainage and Animas Mountain.
At the trailhead, runners can enter through the fence or walk across the cattle guard to access the single track and begin a gradual climb through the most open segment of the trail. It is not long before the trail becomes engulfed in the shade of towering ponderosa pines, which keep the area a little cooler than runs in town.
At the first of two intersections, a simple but clearly marked sign will indicate the Dry Fork loop to the left and Hoffheins Connection to the right. Hoffheins is the steeper of the two trails but shorter. From here runners will continue climbing through alternating landscapes of wild flowers and ponderosas.
Near the top is a second intersection, where Hoffheins joins the Colorado Trail, the continuous backpacking trail that goes from Denver to Durango. To reach Gudy’s Rest, take a right at the intersection and continue just around the bend to the log bench and famed overlook. This is the turn around point for an out-and-back run on Hoffheins.
What Makes It Great
The scenery is great and runners will be welcomed at the top with views of Animas Mountain and Junction Creek drainage. The ponderosa pines and wildflowers on the way up are also sure to please. Free-range cattle are also common near the Dry Fork and Hoffheins trail and provide an interesting landscape for the eye. When the weather is cooler during late spring storms or early fall they are closer to the trailhead, but stay in higher elevations during mid-summer.
In addition to the out and back on Hoffheins, runners also have the option of dropping a shuttle at the Junction Creek trailhead which would allow them to continue down and out from Gudy’s Rest to the other trailhead in order to extend the run.
Finally, the trailhead is just a few miles out of town and takes about 15 minutes by car to get there. It doesn’t have to take an entire day to head outside of the city for a run, but instead, runners can enjoy the scenery Durango has to offer, and a short, but stout run in just a couple of hours.
Who is Going to Love It
Runners looking for a good workout will enjoy this relentless climb and the reward of beautiful views at the runs peak. It’s also great for those looking to get out for a run, but not to spend the entire day finishing it up.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Go west on Highway 160 toward Mesa Verde and Cortez. However, shortly after leaving city limits and reaching the 65mph sign, take a right turn onto Lightner Creek Road, or County Road 207. In a little bit, the road splits: make a right onto the dirt road with a sign designating Perin’s Peak State Wildlife Area and continue driving north on County Road 208. After a few miles on the well-maintained dirt road, veer right when the fork appears. Enter the San Juan National Forest and cross a cattle guard. There are no permits or fees to park.
Hoffheins is dog friendly, however as the city limits are left behind, the likelihood of animal encounters increases so maintain voice control. Also, there is no reliable water source for dogs in the summer unless you make the long descent to Junction Creek below the lookout.
It should also be noted that this is a popular destination for horseback riders as well as mountain bikers. Generally, both stick to the Dry Forks route, though most bikers descend Hoffheins to complete the loop.