Perhaps one of my favorite hikes, the Portland Trail is a nice easy trail that explores the area around the Ampitheater above Ouray.
With gentle switchbacks, and sloping rises and dips, the trail leads to a scenic overlook, with spectacular views of mountains and ridges south and southwest of Ouray.
Perhaps my favorite thing about the Portland Trail is the variety. You might choose to follow the trail precisely from point A to Point B, either in a 3.5 mile loop, or 4.2 miles out and back, or mix it up, and menader along the Portland Trail to the next trailhead, and wander along that one for a while, until intersecting yet another trail, until eventually finding your way back to the car.
We chose to follow the trail this time.
Following 550 South from Ouray, turn left at the Ampitheater Campground. Portland Road is an unmarked road, the first right as you enter the campground. This is a high clearance road, so we parked at the first pull out and walked up to the trailhead. the trail takes you accross a little bridge over the river, and on up a forested path with veiws to the right of the spectacular San Juan Range.
Approximately 2 miles in, a scenic overlook takes your breath away. From mountain peaks to the river far below, the scene is a feast for the eyes. Be sure to have plenty of memory on your phone, because it seems there is no end to the views.
A short walk from the overlook is a three way trailhead, to the right, continue to the Upper Cascade Falls, which is a steep climbthat will take you above the Ampitheater to the top of Cascade Falls, and on up to the Chief Ouray Mine. We took the left trail toward the Ampitheater Campground. At the next junction, we returned to the Portland Trail.
Back accross the walking bridge and down to town for lunch and a nice long soak in the mineral hot springs.
With so many truly spectacular hiking trails in and around Ouray to explore, this one is perfect to get a feel for the terrain and a taste of the beauty in and around Ouray.