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MacGregor Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

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Mohawk Lakes Hike Near Breckenridge

Mohawk Lakes are situated in the mountains south of Breckenridge, Colorado. Less than a 2-hour drive from Denver, this moderately demanding hike leads through pine and aspen forest, along a mountain stream, to a beautiful waterfall spilling over granite slabs. Breaking out above treeline at mile 3, hikers will arrive at Lower Mohawk Lake, and a bit further up the trail, can take in spectacular views of the neighboring mountain ranges at Upper Mohawk Lake. Explore the full Mohawk Lakes hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this adventure near Breckenridge.

Trail Snapshot: Mohawk Lakes Trail near Breckenridge, Colorado

Parking & Trailhead Information for Mohawk Lakes Hike

From Breckenridge, follow CO 9 South to The Spruce Creek Road. This is found on the right/west approximately 2.5 miles from the south end of town (junction of Main and South Park Ave). The trailhead for this hike to Continental Falls is located approximately 1.1 mile up Spruce Creek Road.

cascade spilling out of Lower Mohawk lake
A Cascade Spilling out of Mohawk Lake

The Hike: Mohawk Lakes Trail

From the trailhead, hikers will follow the Spruce Creek trail, which is marked by blue diamond blazes painted on the trees along the trail. About 1/2 mile into the hike, the trail crosses Spruce Creek via a footbridge. Here the forest opens to provide views of Mt. Helen to the West. At approximately the 1.7 miles mark, the Spruce Creek trail intersects with the Wheeler Trail. At this junction, continue straight on Spruce Creek Trail.

At approximately 2 miles, the Spruce Creek trail joins up with a 4WD road for a short jaunt past a small dam, then reconnects with the Spruce Creek trail. At about 2.5 miles into the hike, the trail intersects with the Mayflower Lakes Trail. Proceeding left (southwest) will lead to Mohawk lakes and past a beautiful granite waterfall, Continental Falls. This segment of the trail is one of my favorites, as it leads past the ruins of a mining operation complete with cabins, mine shaft, and old mining equipment. Exercise caution around such areas as hikers have been been injured or lost their lives by entering mining shafts and adits. Take a moment to read the signage around these areas for details.

mohawk lakes breckenridge colorado old mine shaft along the trail
An Old Mine Shaft along the Trail

There are more cascades to taken in between Continental Falls and Lower Mohawk lake. At approximately the 3-mile mark, hikers will arrive at beautiful Lower Mohawk lake, surrounded by rugged mountainsides with the peak of Mt. Helen directly north of the center of the lake. The trail continues for about 0.3 miles and another 450' of elevation gain to Upper Mohawk Lake where you can take in the expansive views of Colorado's majestic Tenmile Range of the Rocky Mountains. Because this is an out-and-back trail, the way back to the trailhead is the reverse of the same trail hikers take to the lakes.

hiker with child at lower mohawk lake in Colorado mountains
At the shore of Lower Mohawk Lake

Tips & Resources for Hiking the Mohawk Lakes Trail

  • TIP: You will be hiking through alpine tundra, which is a fragile ecosystem. Be sure to stay on the trail and hike only on durable surfaces if you are hiking or fishing along the lakes.
  • TIP: There are mine ruins off trail nearby. Be careful as mines have been known to collapse and to produce poisonous gases.
  • Trail Map: Mohawk Lakes Trail near Breckenridge
  • Packing List: Always pack the 10 Essentials. Download our Hiking Guide to get the list and dayhiking packing checklist.
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • After the Hike: The Crown

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Diamond Lake Hike

The Diamond Lake Trail leads hikers to a high alpine lake nestled in the forest below Jasper Peak in Indian Peaks Wilderness. This 2.7 mile, moderately demanding trail leads to good fishing at Diamond Lake, past a waterfall and multiple cascades, and opens up to the incredible views that make Colorado's high-country famous. Explore the full Diamond Lake hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this adventure in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.

Trail Snapshot: Diamond Lake Trail

Directions to Diamond Lake Trail & Trailhead

Drive for approximately for 1hr from Denver to Nederland, Colorado. From Nederland, drive south on CO 119 for about half a mile. Turn right onto CR 130 towards Eldora, then proceed westward through the town of Eldora on Eldorado Avenue which will turn into Hessie Road as it leaves town. At the intersection with CR 111 (4th of July Road) turn right; this will take you to the Fourth of July Trailhead. On the way to the trailhead, you'll pass Buckingham Campground. Though this looks like a trailhead and parking area, drive past it to the actual trailhead. It is important to note that 4th of July Road is a dirt road and only useable by passenger vehicles during the Summer months, and rain and snow can cause the road conditions to be unpredictable.

The Hike to Diamond Lake

The hike to Diamond Lake begins at the 4th of July Trailhead by taking the Arapaho Pass Trail #904. The Arapaho Pass trail ascends quickly into Indian Peaks Wilderness area. New views open up about every quarter mile featuring distant waterfalls, trailside cascades, creeks, wildflowers, and expansive mountain views. Hikers will encounter the first trail junction at 1.2 miles in. The correct trail, the Diamond Lake Trail (easy to remember) is to the left/west. The first 1/2 mile on the Diamond Lake Trail heads west along a drainage then descends to Middle Boulder Creek. At approximately 1.7 miles into the hike, the trail follows a bridge over Middle Boulder Creek. This a great place to stop and take in Diamond Lake Falls (pictured below).

diamond lake falls as it spills out of Middle Boulder Creek high in Indian Peaks Wilderness

After the waterfall, the trail crosses two more creeks then begins a steep ascent through a series of switchbacks. This final trail segment is approximately 1 mile, making the entire one-way hike to Diamond Lake approximately 2.7 miles. This segment from the waterfall to the lake is often covered with snow into early Summer, so orienteering and snow-travel skills are recommended for those who decide to negotiate the snow-covered trail.

forest near diamond lake with snow and fogSnow and Fog on the Forest near Diamond Lake

Campfires are prohibited at Diamond Lake, but camping is allowed by permit and in the designated sites. For more details on backcountry travel and permits in the Indian Peaks Wilderness area, see the Indian Peaks Wilderness Alliance. The Diamond Lake Trail continues past Diamond Lake into the high country where it meets up with the Devils Thumb trail. Hikers in Indian Peaks should always prepare by packing the 10 Essentials, and have a plan in case they encounter rapidly changing weather conditions. In the summer, this means thunderstorms and lightning that rapidly form, and un-forecasted snowstorms from Fall to early Summer.

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Tips & Resources for Hiking the Diamond Lake Trail

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Diamond Lake Falls Hike

Diamond Lake Falls requires a 1.7 mile one-way hike into Indian Peaks Wilderness. Many hikers choose to hike the 1 mile further up to Diamond Lake. Wildflowers, cascades, and expansive mountain views are just a few of the features that make hiking to Diamond Lake Falls worthwhile. Explore the full trail profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this adventure in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.

Trail Snapshot: Diamond Lake Falls Trail

Directions & Trailhead Information for 4th of July Trailhead

Travel for approximately for 1hr from Denver to Nederland, Colorado. From Nederland, travel south on CO 119 for about half a mile. Turn right onto CR 130 towards Eldora. Proceed westward through the town of Eldora on Eldorado Avenue which will turn into Hessie Road as it leaves town. At the intersection with CR 111 (4th of July Road) turn right and proceed to the Fourth of July Trailhead. On the way to the trailhead, you'll pass Buckingham Campground. Though this looks like a trailhead and parking area, drive past it to the actual trailhead. It is important to note that 4th of July Road is a dirt road and only useable by passenger vehicles during the Summer months, and rain and snow can cause the road conditions to be unpredictable.

diamond lake drive to 4th of july trailhead

On the Way to 4th of July Trailhead

The Hike: Diamond Lake Falls Trail

Diamond Lake Falls is actually an unnamed waterfall situated in Indian Peaks Wilderness about 1 mile below Diamond Lake where the trail crosses the North Fork of Middle Boulder Creek. Most hikers will include a stop at the falls on their way up to Diamond Lake (2.7 miles one-way). The hike begins at the 4th of July Trailhead on the Arapaho Pass Trail #904. This first segment on the Arapaho Pass trail climbs into Indian Peaks Wilderness and is adorned with wildflowers in the early and mid-Summer.
trail sign turn left to diamond lake
At 1.2 miles, the trail will come to a junction. The way up to Diamond Lake Falls and Diamond Lake will follow the left-hand trail. The Diamond Lake Trail first heads west along a drainage then descends to Middle Boulder Creek. This segment from the trail junction to the bridge and waterfall is 0.5 mile.

diamond lake falls as it spills out of Middle Boulder Creek high in Indian Peaks Wilderness

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Tips & Resources for Hiking the Diamond Lake Falls Trail

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Continental Falls Hike Near Breckenridge

Continental Falls crashes through cracks in the granite sides of the mountains near Breckenridge Colorado. It's a moderate 2.5 mile uphill hike to the base of the waterfall. The 1000+ feet of elevation gain require some bodily exertion, but it's worth the effort. Located on the eastern slopes of the Mosquito Range, waterfall finds its source in the high mountain Mohawk Lakes as they spill out into Spruce Creek and make their way down the mountainside. The trail boasts spectacular mountain views, lakes, and the ruins of an old mining operation. Explore the full Continental Falls hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this hike near Breckenridge.

Trail Snapshot: Continental Falls Trail near Breckenridge, Colorado

Parking & Trailhead Information for Continental Falls Hike

From Breckenridge, follow CO 9 South to The Spruce Creek Road. This is found on the right/west approximately 2.5 miles from the south end of town (junction of Main and South Park Ave). The trailhead for this hike to Continental Falls is located approximately 1.1 mile up Spruce Creek Road.

The Hike: Continental Falls Trail

The hike up to Continental Falls follows the Spruce Creek Trail. It's marked with blue diamond blazes making the trail easy to find and follow. Just shy of a 1/2 mile into the hike, the trail will cross Spruce Creek via a footbridge. At this point, the forest opens up a bit to views of my Helen in the distant west.
About 1.7 miles into the hike, the Spruce Creek trail will intersect with the Wheeler Trail. At this junction, continue straight on Spruce Creek Trail. At approximately 2 miles, the Spruce Creek trail will join up with the 4WD road, for a short jaunt past a small dam, then will connect back in with the Spruce Creek trail.

trail up to continental falls near breckenridge

At about 2.5 miles into the hike, the trails reaches another junction. The left-hand trail leads up to Continental Falls and beyond to Mohawk Lakes. This segment of the trail is one of my favorites, as it leads past the ruins of a mining operation complete with cabins, mine shaft, and old mining equipment. Be sure to exercise caution and read the warning signs around such areas. At approximately 2.6 miles into the hike, the trail will arrive at Continental Falls. After taking in the waterfall, hikers often opt to go further up to gain incredible mountain peak and mountain range views at Mohawk Lakes.

Tips & Resources for Hiking the Continental Falls Trail

  • TIP: There is a mine ruins off trail nearby. Be careful as there is a warning sign that it could collapse and may produce dangerous gases.
  • Trail Map for Continental Falls: Trail Map
  • Packing List: Always pack the 10 Essentials. Download our Hiking Guide to get the list and dayhiking packing checklist.
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • After the Hike: The Crown

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Looking for more waterfalls near Denver? Explore our more than 50 Colorado Waterfall Hikes, our favorite Waterfall Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, or 7 Waterfalls within One Hour of Denver.


Lost Falls Hike 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

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
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Tips & Resources for Hiking to Lost Falls in RMNP

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Rainbow Falls Hike in Colorado Springs

The hike to Rainbow Falls is a short easy walk to the waterfall and a historic bridge. The waterfalls is located in Manitou Springs, just west Colorado Springs. The waterfall and bridge had been neglected for decades, but the area is now being restored by local government and local citizens. Explore the full Rainbow Falls hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this waterfall hike near Colorado Springs.

Trail Snapshot: Rainbow Falls in Colorado Springs

Parking & Trailhead Information for Rainbow Falls

The Rainbow Falls trailhead is located approximately 6 miles from interstate 25, just west of the city of Colorado Springs. From I-25 in Colorado Springs, take the exit for 24/Cimarron. Heading west on 24/Cimarron for 5.5 miles. Turn left onto Serpentine Drive (across from the entrance to Cave of the Winds). The Rainbow Falls Recreation area trailhead is located 0.3 mile up Serpentine Drive, on the right side of a switchback. The trail is found far end of the parking area by the gate.

The Hike: Rainbow Falls Trail in Colorado Springs

It's just a short 1/10th of a mile hike (one-way) to the waterfall. This easy trail takes hikers along the orange and golden rock faces that surround fountain creek, underneath the bridge to the base of the falls. Constructed in 1934, the bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Locals remember when this area before it became clogged with erosion, spoiled by graffiti, and littered with trash. The floods of 2013 brought renewed attention to this hidden area, and a concerned group of citizens put a plan together and pursued grant funding to restore and expand what is now named the Rainbow Falls Recreation Area. In 2016, the state began repair on Rainbow Falls Bridge. After the bridge repair, work on restoring the trail will begin in earnest. The grafitti will be removed, and efforts will be set in place to prevent vandalism of this natural area. Future projects are slated over the next few years, including, the stabilization of the surrounding slopes, construction of picnic overlooks, restoration of habitat and fishing, and connectors to other trails in the Pikes Peak region.

It's important to note that swimming is prohibited and the parking area and Rainbow Falls Recreation area do not allow overnight vehicles or camping. Dogs are allowed on leash, but due to the present state of fountain creek, it is advisable that both pets and their owners refrain from wading into the water; glass and other sharp objects may be littering the creek bed and could cause injury.

Significant progress on the restoration of the Rainbow Falls Recreation area should be completed by the Summer of 2017. More more details, see the Rainbow Falls Recreation Area Master Plan.

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Tips & Resources for Hiking to Rainbow Falls in Colorado Springs

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Seven Falls Hike in Colorado Springs

The hike to Seven Falls in Colorado Springs follows a paved canyon trail 0.8 mile to this famous tiered waterfall. After severe damage by the floods in 2013, the Broadmoor Resort purchased the property and has made significant improvements, including trail and site repairs, as well as creating an on-site restaurant. As in the past, there is an access fee to this Colorado Springs attraction. Explore the full Seven Falls hike profile for 4 different hike options, driving directions, trail map, and tips for making the most of your trip to Seven Falls.

Trail Snapshot: Seven Falls in Colorado Springs

Parking & Trailhead Information for Seven Falls

Since purchased by the Broadmoor, the hike to Seven Falls begins at the east parking area at 6 Lake Street in Colorado Springs. Visitors then take the free shuttle to the Seven Falls entrance. From here, it's a 0.8 mile (one-way) hike through the canyon up to Seven Falls. Visitors have the option of taking a $1 tram service to the base of the falls; however, the tram is prioritized for those who are have physical limitations that may prevent them from making the journey up to the falls and back. So, on busy days, availability may be limited.

Driving Directions for Seven Falls:

Take I-25 to exit 140 for Nevada Avenue. Go right/south onto Nevada Avenue, take a right to go west on Lake Street. Turn right/north onto 1st street. The parking area will be on the right.

Fee:

While parking itself is free of charge for patrons, there is a fee required to visit Seven Falls. At the time of this posting, the fee for visiting Seven Falls is $14 for adults and $8 for children. For the most up-to-date prices and hours, contact the Seven Falls Office at 1-855-923-7272.

The Hike: Seven Falls Trail in Colorado Springs

There are 4 Different hike options for visitors to Seven Falls in Colorado Springs.

#1 - Initial hike from the ticket area to the base of Seven Falls

Visitors to Seven Falls can walk the 0.8 mile paved trail from the entrance to the base of the falls. The paved, private road winds through South Cheyenne Canyon and under the shadows cast by the Pillars of Hercules, a set of twin rock towers that soar nearly 1000 feet above the floor of the canyon.

At the base of the the waterfall, you can choose to take the staircase of 224 steps that provide both an opportunity to view the unique segments of this tiered waterfall and give visitors access to the 3 hikes above Seven Falls. At the falls, visitors can also take an elevator to an observation point.

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#2 - Midnight Falls Loop Hike

After climbing the steps to the area above Seven Falls, a short 0.35 mile trail leads south along Cripple Creek to another small waterfall, Midnight Falls. Round trip, this hike takes approximately 30 minutes and is a total distance out-and-back of 0.7 mile.

#3 - Inspiration Point Out-and-Back Hike

Once above the Falls, visitors will follow the Midnight Falls Trail until its first intersection with the Inspiration Point Trail. Taking a left onto the Inspiration Point Trail, it will lead east, then north to the Helen Hunt Jackson Memorial and to the Inspiration Point observation area. Here, hikers can take in views of the Great Plains as they stretch out to the East and of views of the city of Colorado Springs below. The hike to Inspiration Point is about 1.5 mile round-trip, and takes approximately one hour to complete from the top of the falls.

#4 - Stage Road Loop Hike

A longer loop hike that visits both Inspiration Point and Midnight Falls can be created by following the route above to Inspiration Point. After visiting Inspiration Point, hikers would continue south then east on the Sunrise trail, which intersects with the Old Stage Road at approximately 1 mile into the hike.

Going right on the Old Stage road, it will wind south, then will make its way west to where it will intersect with the Inspiration Point Trail (on the right/north side of the road). The Old Stage Road segment is approximately 1 mile.

The Inspiration Point trail will lead North back towards Seven Falls. After about 1/2 a mile on on the Inspiration Point Trail, hikers will see the short spur trail on the left that leads to Midnight Falls. After visiting Midnight falls, this loop hike can be completed by following the Midnight Falls trail back to the steps above Seven Falls. The total distance for this loop hike ends up being approximately 3 miles. Because Seven Falls has posted closing times, hikers should budget enough time for this longer hike so that they are able to make it back for the last shuttle to the parking area.

Tips & Resources for Hiking to Seven Falls in Colorado Springs

  • Expect Crowds in Summer and on Weekends: Because Seven Falls is a popular tourist destination, it can become quite crowded on weekends and during the vacation season of Mid-May through Labor Day Weekend.
  • Operating Hours Vary: The open and close times, as well as shuttle service, varies during different seasons. Inclement weather can also close Seven Falls, so be sure to call ahead for hours 1-855-923-7272.
  • Trail Map for Seven Falls in Colorado Springs: Trail Map Link
  • Packing List: Always pack the 10 Essentials. Download our Hiking Guide to get the list and dayhiking packing checklist.
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • Photo: We would like to express our gratitude to Tim Caynes for sharing the above photograph of Seven Falls in Colorado Springs.
  • After the Hike: Restaurant 1858 at Seven Falls: The lunch menu is more than what you might pay at a similar place in town, but quality of food and beautiful location make it worth it. Dinner menu is more expensive. No dogs, except service animals, allowed at the restaurant.

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Looking for more waterfalls near Denver? Explore our more than 50 Colorado Waterfall Hikes, our favorite Waterfall Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, or 7 Waterfalls within One Hour of Denver.


cascades over rock at catmount falls hike near colorado springs

Catamount Falls Hike Near Colorado Springs

The hike to Catamount Falls is a moderate 2.8 mile loop hike about 25 minutes outside of Colorado Springs. This waterfall hike takes hikers to three different waterfalls and over two different creeks that spill down from the heights of Pikes Peak. It makes for a great weekend adventure, coupled with a great opportunity for brunch at the Pantry in Green Mountain Falls. Explore the full Catamount Falls hike profile below for driving directions, trail route description, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this adventure near Colorado Springs.

Trail Snapshot: Catamount Falls in Colorado Springs

Parking & Trailhead Information for Catamount Falls

The hike to Catamount Falls starts at Thomas Trailhead in the quaint mountain village of Green Mountain Falls. However, since there is no parking available at the Thomas trailhead, the hike must be started from the Gazebo Lake parking area in town. To get to Gazebo Lake, from interstate 25, take exit 141 and go west on Cimarron Avenue/US 24 for 13.5 miles to the Chipita Park/Green Mountain Falls exit. Following Green Mountain Falls Rd/Ute Pass Avenue for approximately 0.7 miles. Take a left onto Lake Street. Here you will find the parking area that lines the north side of the small lake.

The Hike: Catamount Falls Trail in Colorado Springs

The loop route below requires two segments along the streets of Green Mountain Falls. The first 0.4 mile segment of the hike will takes hikers from Gazebo Lake to the Thomas Trailhead. Beginning at Gazebo Lake, walk the roadside of Ute Pass Avenue that follows the southern edge of Gazebo Lake. Take a right at the first intersection onto Hotel Street. The streets can be a bit confusing in Green Mountain falls, and Hotel Street will soon turn into Park Avenue. Follow Park avenue as it winds up to its intersection with Boulder Street, a dirt (and sometimes muddy) road that terminates at the Thomas Trailhead.

Once on the Thomas Trail, yellow circle blazes mark the way. The initial stretch of trail leads to the base of the first waterfall on this hike, Crystal Falls @ 0.5 mile. This set of cascades is formed by Crystal Creek as it runs down the mountainside from a Crystal Creek Reservoir, one of the lakes situated above Green Mountain Falls on the flanks of Pikes Peak. A bit further up the trail, there is an observation area for taking in the larger leaps of the falls.

The next 0.7 mile segment of the Thomas Trail leads to the second waterfall, Catamount Falls, and is the more demanding portion of the hike. The trail climbs west/northwest until it arrives at Thomas Trail Memorial. After the memorial, Catamount Falls is just a short ways further up the trail. A spur trail leads from the left/south to the site of Catamount falls.

From Catamount Falls, the next segment of trail goes north to take hikers back into Green Mountain Falls. Yellow blazes mark the way across the creek and back to the Thomas Trail. Soon the trail will encounter an intersection with the Catamount trail at the Catamount Trailhead. Staying on the Thomas Trail, it will cross a small footbridge where a third small waterfall can be viewed. The trail then terminates at Belvedere Avenue.

Here, the final 1-mile segment of this loop hike begins. Taking a right onto paved Belvedere Avenue, it will lead east, back into town. Belvedere Avenue will eventually merge with Ute Pass Avenue. Going South/Right on Ute Pass Avenue then leads back to Gazebo Park.

You may be wondering, "What is a 'catamount?'" A catamount is a mountain lion, also known as a cougar. The Catamount Reservoir and Catamount Creek are both named after this creature that lives in the wilds of Colorado.


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Looking for more waterfalls near Denver? Explore our more than 50 Colorado Waterfall Hikes, our favorite Waterfall Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, or 7 Waterfalls within One Hour of Denver.


Tips & Resources for Hiking to Catamount Falls in Colorado Springs

  • Watch for yellow markers: These will guide you along the Thomas Trail.
  • Get there early: This can be a crowded hike on the weekends.
  • Parking: Out of respect for the residents of Green Mountain Falls, refrain from parking along the roads near the trailhead. Instead, park at Gazebo Lake and follow the trail description above.
  • A Shorter Option: For those looking for a less demanding hike to just one waterfall, follow the route above to take in Crystal Falls only. This makes for a less demanding 1 mile, out-and-back hike.
  • Packing List: Always pack the 10 Essentials. Download our Hiking Guide to get the list and dayhiking packing checklist.
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • Photo: We would like to express our gratitude to Ethan Beute for sharing such an amazing photograph of this hike to Catamount Falls in Colorado Springs.
  • After the Hike: The Pantry Restaurant: One of our favorite breakfast places in all of Colorado

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Granite Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Granite Falls takes a 5.1 mile journey from the Green Mountain Trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park. At Granite Falls, the waters of Tonahutu Creek drop fifty feet through a course of smooth granite slabs. The hike offers a diverse landscape: from tranquil forests, to expansive meadows, and verdant creeksides--all alive with wildflowers and wildlife. Explore the full Granite 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: Granite Falls Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

Parking & Trailhead Information for Granite Falls

The Green Mountain Trailhead is located on the western side area of Rocky Mountain National Park, north of Grand Lake, Colorado, along Trail Ridge Road. From the Kawuneeche Visitor Center in Grand Lake, drive 3 miles north on Trail Ridge Road. The Green Mountain Trailhead will be on the right/east side of the road, and has a capacity for around 25 vehicles.

The Hike: Granite Falls Trail in RMNP

The hike begins at the Green Mountain Trailhead and follows the Green Mountain Trail for 1.9 miles to Big Meadows, and encounters the first trail junction. The way to Granite Falls is to take the left-hand trail for 0.7 mile that skirts the western border of Big Meadows. There is a group campsite in Big Meadows that offers some of the most spectacular views of the night sky. Moose and elk frequent this area and brook trout can be found in nearby Tonahutu Creek.

big-meadows-rocky-mountain-national-park-cc

Big Meadows Courtesy of Michael Levine-Clark

At 2.6 miles, the trail meets a second trail junction. The way to Granite Falls is to go right/east on the Tonahutu trail towards Flattop Mountain. Because their is only a 1000' elevation gain over the course of the 5.1 miles to Granite Falls, the trail only has a mild and undulating slope. After crossing two creeks, a small sign will point the way down a spur trail that leads to Granite Falls. The waterfall is a series of slide cascades flowing over broad granite slabs into a pool of swirling waters. The hike back follows the same route, making this a 10.2 mile out-and-back hike.

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Tips & Resources for Hiking to Granite Falls in RMNP

  • Prepare: Bring lots of water and high-energy food for this longer 10.2 mile hike.
  • Trail Map for Kawuneeche Valley: Trail Map Link
  • Packing List: Always pack the 10 Essentials. Download our Hiking Guide to get list and dayhiking packing checklist.
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • Photo: We would like to express our gratitude to Will Currier for sharing such an amazing photograph of this hike to Granite Falls in RMNP.
  • After the Hike: Fat Cat Cafe It may be the best breakfast in Colorado!

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