Lost Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park - Day Hikes Near Denver

September 17, 2016 Comments (0) 9+ Miles, Difficult, hikes near estes park, More than 90 Min, Rocky Mountain National Park, Ruins, Waterfall Hikes, Waterfalls

Lost Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

The hike to Lost Falls is a demanding 15.6 mile trek into into a lesser traveled, northern reaches of Rocky Mountain National Park. The trail follows the North Fork of the Big Thompson River through stands of lodgepole, the pinch of a rugged canyon, and past aspen laden meadows before reaching this hidden waterfall. Explore the full Lost Falls hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this adventure in Rocky Mountain National Park.


Trail Snapshot: Lost Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

  • Hike Distance: 15.6 miles Round Trip
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Duration: Approx 7+ hr Round Trip
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Starting Elevation: 7800′
  • Elevation Gain: Approx. +2250′
  • Seasons: Late Spring through Early Fall
  • Dogs: Dogs Prohibited in RMNP
  • Hike Trail Map: Click for a Map of Lost Falls RMNP
  • Trails Illustrated Map: Recommended Topo Map Noting Location of Lost Falls
  • Denver Drive Time: 1 hr 40 min
  • Driving Directions to Dunraven Trailhead: Click for Google Map
  • Town Nearest Hike: Estes Park, Colorado
  • Beauty: Waterfall, aspen, mountain views, wildlife: Abert’s squirrel, elk, deer, moose, bear; wildflowers.
  • Activities: Picnicking, hiking trails, snowshoeing, horseback riding, backcountry camping (with a permit), photography
  • Fee: Park Pass Required


Parking & Trailhead Information for Lost Falls

The Dunraven Trailhead is located in the northeast corner of Rocky Mountain National Park, just outside the town of Glen Haven. From Estes Park, drive north on MacGregor Avenue. The road eventually turns into Devils Gulch Road. The next road is Dunraven Glade, and will be on the left 1.7 miles past the small hamlet of Glen Haven. Follow Dunraven Glade Road for 2.2 miles to the Dunraven Trailhead.



The Hike: Lost Falls Trail in RMNP

This scenic hike to Lost Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park is a demanding 15.6 mile round-trip hike with over 2000′ of elevation gain. Because the waterfall is located off the main trail and in a dense tangle of undergrowth and deadfall, hikes should possess a sufficient level of land navigation skills (map reading and proficiency with a compass and/or GPS unit) to negotiate the terrain. It is also advisable to have a Trails Illustrated map of RMNP or a USGS Pingree Park Quadrangle map of the area.

The Dunraven/North Fork Trail heads west out of the trailhead following the North Fork of the Big Thompson River through a segment of the Comanche Peak Wilderness. For a quarter mile, the trail will cross the private property of a summer camp (please be mindful to stay the trail). At 4.6 miles, the Dunraven Trail will cross the wilderness boundary and into Rocky Mountain National Park. The trail will continue to cross the river via several footbridges before arriving at the intersection with the North Boundary Trail at 5.5 miles. Here, hikers will stay on the Dunraven trail as it winds its way west, following the North Fork of the Big Thompson River up the valley. The established campsites are in this stretch. Several years back, I hiked in and stayed the weekend at Happily Lost, which has become one of my favorite sites in the park. While still near the trail, it’s proximity to the Big Thompson gives you the sounds of water and access to some great fishing for brook trout in its pools.

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Happily Lost Campsite

After Happily Lost the trail becomes more steep. It passes the sign for Lost Falls Campsite around 7 miles–it’s important to know that this is a sign for the campsite and not the waterfall. After passing the campsite, the trail continues about another half mile to its intersection with the Stormy Peaks Pass Trail. Staying to the Dunraven/North Fork Trail, the way to Lost Falls can be found just past the intersection and on the left. Keep an eye out for social trails on the left/south that lead down to the falls. Because this area sees fewer visitors, social trails may be well-hidden by the undergrowth.

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Lost Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Hikers should exercise a great deal of care navigating the area near the falls, as it can be steep, and the rock along the creek can be exceptionally slippery. While more of a creek than a river, during the Spring melt and after heavy rains, the North Fork of the Big Thompson can become quite treacherous. Because of the 15.6 mile round-trip distance and the demanding elevation gain, it may be a good idea to camp at one of the many sites along the trail. They are in order of East to West: Boundary Creek, Kettle Tarn, Halfway, Aspen Meadow Group, Happily Lost, Lost Falls, Sugarloaf, Lost Meadow, Lost Meadow Group, Lost Lake, and Lost Lake Group. These campsites must be reserved through the RMNP Backcountry Wilderness Camping Offices.


Lost Falls and Nearby Cascades in Rocky Mountain National Park

Tips & Resources for Hiking to Lost Falls in RMNP


Weather

Estes Park, CO
24°
mostly cloudy
92% humidity
wind: 4mph WNW
H 38 • L 20
31°
Fri
27°
Sat
35°
Sun

Map & Driving Directions


Click for Driving Directions



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