We drove a little over an hour from Durango towards San Juan National Forest to Molas Pass.
The total hike was 7.2 miles long with an elevation gain of about 1,709’. This hike starts out high at first, and then you hike straight down to the Animas River. Once you reach the river, you turn around and go back up the mountain to parking lot. The picture below shows the beginning of the trail which was flat until the switch backs descent began.
If you zoom in below, you can see the river.
Halfway through the hike, we make it to the river that is abnormally low.
Personally, I prefer to go up first and then down. I’d rather feel exhausted halfway through the hike then at the very end.