pikes peak in background with manitou lake in foreground near colorado springs

Manitou Lake Hike Near Colorado Springs

Manitou Lake near Colorado Springs offers a pleasant and easy loop trail around its shores with views of Pikes Peak. It's also a great spot fishing and paddling on the 5-acres of water. There are nearby camping options detailed below. Explore the full Manitou Lake hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, campground info and more.

Trail Snapshot: Manitou Lake Loop Hike

morning light breaking through old log cabin shelter at manitou lake

Shelter Pavilion at Manitou Lake

Parking & Trailhead Information for Manitou Lake

Interstate Route

From Denver, take Interstate 25 South to Colorado Springs. Exit onto 24 West and drive US Highway 24 about 18 to Woodland Park. In Woodland Park, take HWY 67 North for about 7.5 miles. Manitou Lake will be on the east side of the highway.

Scenic Route

The scenic route and interstate route take about the same amount of time, but there will likely be less traffic on this trip. There are a lot of curves though, so be prepared for that aspect of the drive. From Denver, take 285 South toward Pine Junction. Take a left onto Pine Valley Road, which curves around through some beautiful Front Range landscapes, goes through Pine and just outside of Buffalo Creek the road changes names to Deckers Road. Follow Deckers road until it terminates at US 67 in Deckers. In Deckers, take US 67 South (right) for 15.7 miles. Manitou Lake will will be on the lefthand (east) side of the road.

Trailhead and Facilities

Manitou Lake is heavily used in the Summer months and weekends and has limited parking. There are two vault toilet, one across from the pavillion and one adjacent to the parking loop area. The pavillion can be reserved for a fee from Recreation.gov site. It's important to note when reserving that each vehicle is still required to pay the day use access fee. There are several access trails that run from the parking area to the main trail that circles the lake.

manitou lake near colorado springs with pikes peak in the background along hike

The Hike: Manitou Lake

Beginning at the access trail near the pavillion, head toward the lake to pick up the main trail near a small dock. Head north (left) hiking along the western shore of the lake. You'll pass another small fishing dock, then come to a trail intersection. Go right, crossing the small footbridge spanning Trout Creek, the small creek that feeds the reservoir.

Continue following the trail along the northern edge of Manitou Lake as it eventually bends toward the south. Here, you'll be able to take in the best views of Pikes Peak. This is why we recommend hiking the loop clockwise instead of counter clockwise. Stop to take in Summer wildflowers that grow in the meadows surrounding the lake.

western tanager bird in meadows near manitou lake colorado

Western Tanager at Manitou Lake

The trail will then enter and exit a small stand of ponderosa pines. Then the trail bends to the west and crosses a marshland. Be alert for herons and other wildlife in this wetland segment of the trail. The dirt path becomes a boardwalk on this final segment of the trail.

Longer Hike Options

There are ways to extend your hike and explore other areas around Manitou Lake. The first is a trail segment north of the lake, near the bridge that leads along Trout Creek. This is an undeveloped social trail created by fisherman, so it's a non-destination trail and has a lot of small spurs to access the creek. The second trail leads South to the Colorado Campground site. The third is the 4.2 mile segment of bike trail that runs alongside highway 67 connecting the campgrounds and Manitou Lake.

Camping Near Manitou Lake

There are several campgrounds along highway 67 near Manitou Lake to serve the Pikes Peak Region. Here's a list from the southern end to the north with links to their reservation pages. All of these campsites are close to Woodland Park andn great places to basecamp for exploring the surrounding Colorado Springs area. All have toilets and water.

Tips & Resources for Hiking Manitou Lake

  • Fishing: The Department of Wildlife stocks Manitou lake with Rainbow and Cutbow Trout. The beaver ponds above lake along Trout Creek are also good spots to fish.
  • Dogs at Manitou Lake: Manitou Lake is a great spot to take your dog for a walk. Because it is a reservoir, dogs must be kept out of the water and leashed at all times.
  • Trail Map: Manitou Lake
  • 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 Patricia Henschen for sharing such an amazing photograph of this hike at Manitou Lake near Colorado Springs.
  • After the Hike: The Donut Mill. The Donut Mill serves epic donuts. That's not an overstatement. The donuts are gigantic and dream-inducing (perhaps from the sugar coma). They cost more than most donut places, but if you are a donut lover, this place is not to be missed. Their biscuits and gravey also are a worth noting.


Map & Driving Directions

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pikes peak in distance from fox run park with evergreen trees in foreground

Fallen Timbers Loop Hike at Fox Run Park

The Fallen Timbers Loop is an easy, 2-mile hike near Colorado Springs with great views of Pikes Peak. It makes for a great family hike because of the shade of the ponderosa pines and the nearby playground at this hike in Fox Run Regional Park. Explore the full hike profile for trail map, driving directions, and tips.

Trail Snapshot: Fallen Timbers Loop Hike

parking area near lake with aspen tree along trail at fox run park near colorado springs

Parking & Trailhead Information for Fallen Timbers Loop at Fox Run

From Denver, take interstate 25 South and take exit 158 onto Baptist Road (left). Drive East for 2.3 miles and turn right onto Tari Drive. Proceed for about 300 feet, then take a left onto Becky Drive. Go about 1/2 mile and turn left onto Stella Drive. Drive about another 1/2 mile and the entrance to Fox Run park will be on your left. Drive around the loop to the parking area by the pond. This trailhead parking area has a restroom just to the southwest of the parking lot.

The Hike: Fallen Timbers Loop

The trail for the Fallen Timbers loop hike begins on the northeast end of the parking lot. When facing the pond, this will be the wide trail behind you, across the drive, and to the left. This little connector trail will soon come to a junction with the loop trail. I recommend hiking this counter-clockwise, so take a right onto the Fallen Timbers trail to begin the loop.

green lake with changing aspens at fox run park near colorado springs at beginning of the fallen timbers loop hike

The trail works its way through the dappled shade of ponderosa pines and bends to the right (east). You'll encounter a couple trail junctions. At the junctions, stay on the Fallen Timbers trail (bearing right). Just shy of 1 mile into the trail, you'll arrive at the Roller Coaster Road parking area for Fox Run. The trail will continue north past this trailhead. However, there is a restsroom here at the trailhead that is open April through October.

The trail continues north, crossing a footbridge, then begins to bend West (left). Orange blaze markers should mark out the trail.

swan lake frozen over with pines and aspen trees at fox run park near colorado springs fallen timbers loop hike

Along this entire trail, you'll find interpretive signs explaining the impact of the pine beetle and tree bores on the ecosystems of Colorado, and about the local fauna in this area north of Colorado Springs. This makes for a great discussions with the kids about the environment and the impact that even small creatures and lightning can have on forests.

The trail bends South, opening up to great views of Pikes Peak. You'll pass a small trail junction that leads right (west) out to the road. Continue past this and eventually you'll come to a decision to either go left (east) finish this 2-mile loop or bear right and extend your hike to make it a longer 2.5 to 3 mile hike. Consult the Fox Run Trail Map, and follow the wester and southern trails of your choice. However, this profile will follow the rest of the 2-mile loop.

Going right will lead into a central parking area. The trail goes east, cutting through the middle of this circle road and then splits. At the split, take a right to begin the approx. 1/4 mile segment back to the parking area and trailhead.

tshirt in blue midnight heather color with flatirons and words wear authentic colorado threads shop our store overlay text on image

Tips & Resources for Hiking the Fallen Timbers Loop

  • A Great Wedding Spot: I've attended two weddings at Fox Run. It's a beautiful and inexpensive option to host a wedding at the Wedding Gazebo. The gazebo can be reserved through the El Paso County reservation site.
  • Taking Photos: The best time to get a photo of Pikes Peak will be in the early morning hours as the sun is rising over the plains. Photographers can capture some dramatic shots of the mountain as its skirts will still be in darkness and the peak bathed in soft light.
  • Easy but Elevation: This is an easy hike, but if you are traveling to Colorado Springs from lower elevations, the 7300' starting elevation at Fox Run park may make this trail a challenge. if that's the case, take your time and oxygenate by drinking plenty of water.
  • Trail Map: Trail Map for Fox Run Park
  • 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 Dave Jacquin , Mariana Wagner , and Nate Zoch for sharing such an amazing photographs of this hike to at Ute Valley Park.
  • After the Hike: Serranos Coffee in Monument


Map & Driving Directions

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old cabin with barns in florissant colorado with green meadows hornbeck homestead at fossil beds national monument

Petrified Forest Hike at Florissant Fossil Beds

The Petrified Forest trail is an easy 1.5 mile loop hike just a 50 minute drive from Colorado Springs. This hike at the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument takes you past the fossilized stumps of ancient sequoia trees, over rolling mountain meadows with views of snowcapped peaks, and is a great way to learn about the geology of Colorado while enjoying nature with your family. Explore the full Petrified Forest hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this hike near Colorado Springs.

Trail Snapshot: Petrified Forest Loop at Florissant Fossil Beds

visitor center entrance at florissant fossil beds national monument in colorado

Parking & Trailhead Information for Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument

The Scenic Drive Option

The scenic drive from Denver to Florissant Fossil Beds is only about 10-15 minutes longer, and with the construction on interstate 25 between Castle Rock and Monument (2019-2022). Here's a link to driving directions for the scenic route through Deckers and West Creek to Woodland Park. This route takes 285 toward Pine, then picks up CO67 for a windy, but beautiful drive through Pike National Forest lands. In Woodland Park, take a right onto US-24 West. Go about 8.4 miles then turn left onto Twin Rocks Road. Drive about 5.8 miles to Teller County Rd 1. Take a right onto Teller County Rd 1, then after about 0.8 mile, take a left into the entrance of the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument.

Directions Via Interstate 25

Take Interstate 25 South to Colorado Springs where you'll exit on exit 141 onto US-24/West Cimarron St. Head West on 24 into the canyon that winds up to Woodland Park. In Woodland Park, stay on US-24 West. After passing the Dinosaur Museum in Woodland Park, you'll drive about 5.8 miles then turn left onto Twin Rocks Road. Drive about 7 miles to Teller County Rd 1. Take a right onto Teller County Rd 1, then after about 0.8 mile, take a left into the entrance of the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument.

Visitor Center and Trailhead

Florissant Fossil Beds is a National Monument and managed by the National Parks office. Like all Federal Recreation sites, entrance to the monument requires a fee. We get an America the Beautiful Pass every year, giving our family access to more than 2000 federal recreation sites, including Florissant Fossil beds. There are restrooms at the visitor center, as well as an interpretive center. Feb. 1 through Nov. 9th, the visitor center and trails are open from 9AM-5PM, and Winter hours are 9AM-4:30PM. It's Closed during New Years, Thanksgiving, and Christmas days.

woman hiking along trail at petrified forest of florissant fossil beds in colorado with sign in foreground meadows and evergreen trees

The Hike: Petrified Forest Hike

There are two short loop trails that you can hike from the visitor center. The first is the 1-mile Petrified Forest Loop, and the second is the 1/2 mile Ponderosa Loop. We recommend combining the two loops to make a 1.5-mile hike.

Petrified Forest Loop

This trail is the centerpiece of the national monument. Start by picking up a guide at the visitor center and first checking out the covered exhibits directly behind the visitor center. The guide will have explanations of the different sites marked by a series of numbered posts along the trail. The Petrified Forest Loop can be hiked in any direction. The trail leads into the ancient bed of Florissant Lake, an area rich in silica that settled in layers to fossilize plants and insects throughout this area.

winding trail across meadow at florissant fossil beds in colorado

Along the trail, you'll pass through open meadow and wooded areas. Fences mark protected stumps of the giant petrified trees that once dominated this high plains environment. Geologists believe volcanic eruptions triggered mudslides that covered the prehistoric forest floor. That mud was rich in silica-based minerals that soaked the wood, eventually replacing its organic material and fossilizing it.

Eventually, the trail will take you to the Big Stump, the largest of the petrified trees not removed by early collectors. When here, take your phone out and turn on the ruler tool. Mark the base of the tree, then extend your phone into the air until it marks 250 feet. That will give you an idea of the size of these trees.

The Ponderosa Loop

After the Petrified Forest Loop, head into the shade of the Ponderosa Loop. This easy, 1/2-mile trail is wheelchair accessible and made of packed, crushed gravel. This loop trail is located in the trees south of the Stump Shelter and Amphitheater. Keep your eyes peeled for Abert's Squirrels, large black squirrels that have long, pointed and tufted ears. From this trail, you can also pick up the Sawmill Trail that loops around the southwest area of the park.

giant trunks of petrified trees along petrified forest loop hike at florissant fossil beds in colorado

baby mountain goat on mount evans colorado more easy hikes

Tips & Resources for Hiking the Petrified Forest at Florissant

  • An Educational Experience: The Florissant Fossil Beds are a great place to take your family to learn about the geology of Colorado. The National Monument page provides a Hike Activities lesson plan for educators.
  • Stargazing: During most months, the park offers stargazing opportunities through their Night Sky Programs. It starts with a short ranger-led talk then turns to 90-minutes of enjoying the stars through the lens of telescopes with volunteers from the Colorado Springs Astronomical Society.
  • Trail Map: Florissant Fossil Beds Hiking 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
  • Photo: We would like to express our gratitude to Patricia Henschen , David Fulmer , and Jasperdo for sharing such an amazing photographs of this hike to at Ute Valley Park.
  • After the Hike: Iron Tree Table and Taps in Florissant


Map & Driving Directions

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hays creek waterfall cascading over red granitic sandstone near carbondale colorado

Hayes Creek Falls Waterfall

Hayes Creek Falls is a 40' waterfall with multiple cascades located just off CO-133 along the Crystal River near Redstone, Colorado. Accessed via a roadside pull-off, Hays Creek Falls makes for a refreshing stop along the West Elk Scenic Loop, on of the most beautiful scenic drives in Colorado.

Trail Snapshot: Hayes Creek Falls

roadside pulloff for hays creek falls near carbondale colorado

Parking & Trailhead Information for Hayes Creek Falls

Hays Creek Falls is located along a stretch of scenic Colorado 133 just south of Carbondale and the Historic Redstone District and a popular viewpoint along the West Elk Loop Scenic Byway. From Denver, take Interstate 70 West into the mountains. Exit in Glenwood Springs via exit 116, taking CO-82 South toward Carbondale, Colorado. In Carbondale, take a right onto CO-133. At the traffic circle, go straight through (second turn), staying on CO-133. The road will follow the Crystal River south into some absolutely beautiful country. As you drive through the Historic Redstone District, you'll notice the Redstone Inn on your left, a historic retreat that stands out because of its unusual architecture. From this waypoint, the pulloff parking area for the falls is just 1.7 miles further.

young hikers following sign to hays creek falls in colorado

The is marked by a Hays Creek Falls sign. This may be a misspelling as signage and online maps have it named both "Hayes Creek Falls" and "Hays Creek Falls." That's why this trail profile alternates between the spellings. There is enough room for a handful of cars. Be sure to park well off the road and to be aware of cars traveling at highway speeds.

The Hike: Hayes Creek Falls

Hayes Creek Falls is more of a scenic stop than a hike, one of the places you visit while on this scenic countryside drive. Our family took in the waterfall on our return from one of our Fall Scenic Drives and camping trips. Along this same stretch of road, just two miles you'll also want to stop at the Redstone Historic Coke Ovens (pictured below). These are what remains from a turn-of-the-century coke operation that has been resorted by Pitkin County. These beehive structures look like something out of a fantasy novel or ancient Ireland.

historic coke ovens with fence in foreground and mountain in background with lush green summer vegetation in redstone colorado

The hike to the falls is just about 25 yards from the roadside sign. In early Summer the cascades of the waterfall gush with water. In the winter, Hayes Creek Falls is a popular ice-climbing destination as the waterfall turns into a giant layered sculpture of ice. There are no developed trails at Hays Creek Falls, with the exception of the short entrance trail. I noticed a few trails on the south side of the falls, and one may lead to the area above the falls, which looks to have a series of cascades. If exploring this area, be aware that it's easy to fall or to inadvertently kick rock and debris down and injure people below. A young man was killed at Boulder Falls while trying the to climb up unstable rock near the waterfall. So, be wise when exploring.

hays creek waterfall in roadside ravine in Colorado

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.

waterfall in canyon with bridge in foreground fish creek falls waterfall in colorado

Tips & Resources for Visiting Hays Creek Waterfall


Map & Driving Directions

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crags hike spires of pink granite with snowcapped mountains in background and pine trees in foreground

Crags Hike Near Colorado Springs

The Crags Trail takes hikers up a 2-mile gradual hike to the the dramatic granite pinnacles on the shoulders of Pikes Peak to take in views of snowcapped peaks. A shaded creekside hike great for families and out-of-town guests, the Crags shows off summer wildflowers in mountain meadows. Explore the full Crags hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this adventure in the Pikes Peak region.

Trail Snapshot: The Crags near Colorado Springs

Parking & Trailhead Information for The Crags

From Denver, you can get to the Crags by driving a direct route via I25 and HWY 24 or you can take a more Scenic Route through the foothills on 67.

The Direct Route

Take interstate 25 south to Colorado Springs, exit at 141 onto US 24 West. You'll drive for about 25 miles into the mountains and through the small town of Divide. Turn left/south onto Hwy 67. Signs should point the way to Mueller State park, which is also on this stretch of road. Just after the entrance to Mueller (on the left), the road you need for the Crags is on the left, CO RD 62. Taking a left onto 62, and drive for about 3 miles. The parking area for the Crags will be on the right side of the road and the trail will start on the left side of the road. Note that this last segment of road is improved dirt road, so the quality of the drive will depend on the current conditions, and may require 4WD in the Winter months.

The Scenic Route

From Denver, take Hwy 285 South toward Pine Junction. Take a left onto Pine Valley road. Here your journey becomes scenic and the roads curvy. Pay close attention while driving and be prepared for the drive to take longer than the 2 hours and 15 minutes posted by mapping software. You'll have some beautiful segments in here, especially the drive along the South Platte River. Cell service is spotty out here, so I always recommend having on hand the Colorado Gazetteer Map printed by DeLorme. The Road changes names to Deckers Road when it passes through the Buffalo Creek area. Eventually, it Deckers road will weave its way down into Deckers. There is a small restaurant here where we've stopped for ice cream. In Deckers, you'll continue straight (south) on 67, passing through Westcreek, until it ends at a stoplight in Woodland Park. Go right at the light, West on 24, until you come again to Hwy 67 just outside of Divide. Then follow the directions above on 67 to the Crags Trailhead.

The Hike: The Crags

This is my favorite hike in the Pikes Peak Region because it's relatively easy, shows off a variety of landscapes, and has incredible views at the top. The trail starts off at the end of the Crags Campground loop and follows the drainage of Fourmile creek. Early on, hikers will come to a fork in the trail. The left-side branch is a more demanding hike, gaining elevation more quickly and has less shade. This trail profile will follow the right-branch, which is more gradual and offers more shade than the left branch. The left branch and right branch can be connected via a scramble at the top to form a loop trail. If taking this route, be aware of the conditions (snow and ice accumulate October through June). Scrambling is fun, but it's also easy to find yourself in a difficult and dangerous circumstance.

trail at sunset at the crags near colorado springs hike with purple clouds and evergreen trees in background

Taking the right branch, the trail will follow alongside Fourmile creek through evergreens and aspens until it opens out into a broad valley surrounded by orange and pink granite cliffs. Wildflowers, like the Indian Paintbrush, bloom in these meadows during the summer months. An interesting fact about Indian Paintbrush: the "flowers" are actually its leaves and there are oranges, reds, and even yellow types of this plant in Colorado.

indian paintbrush red wildflowers on the crags trail hike near colorado springs

In the valley, the trail will come to another fork. The main route goes straight up a gradual ascent to the crags and the right-branch is more steep, leading to another vista point. Continuing on the main route, the trail makes its way up gentle slopes, the grassy terrain giving way to cubic granite rock.

trail along the crags hike near colorado springs with hiker and dog below on trail and sunlit rock formation above cliffs in top of photo

The pink and orange granite pinnacles come into view and the ground eventually opens up to a broad area where hikers gain views of the Sangre De Cristo Mountains in the south, of Pikes Peak, and Mueller State Park. This hike is great for families, but do keep a close eye on children as the rock gives way to steep segments of cliffs at the edges.

crags rock formations of pink granite on crags trail near colorado springs

I'm not sure what the locals have named this formation pictured below, but I think of it as the Twin Bears, because it looks like a couple bears sitting on their haunches taking in the views.

twin bears rock formation at the crags hike near colorado springs

I considered grading this an easy hike because the trail is so gradual, the total elevation gain is under 1000 feet. However, those who are hiking with kids or out-of-town guests, should consider it more moderate because it's almost 5 miles total and does gain 800 feet. It makes for a perfect picnic hike with friends.

hiker looking toward mountains on rock formation at crags trail near colorado springs

If hiking in the later hours of the day, it's important to know that because most of the hike is in the folds of the mountain, it gets dark quickly. I always pack my headlamp, but it's especially relevant if you are hiking during these hours.

rock pinnacles at the crags hike near colorado springs pink and orange granite with evergreen trees in foreground

girl on trail with black dog in colorado mountains spruce tree in foreground and snow and evergreen trees in background

Tips & Resources for Hiking The Crags


Map & Driving Directions

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agnes vaille falls waterfall splashing over rock cliffs into creek below on hike near buena vista colorado

Agnes Vaille Falls Hike

Agnes Vaille falls is viewed on this 1 mile, easy, loop hike just south of Buena Vista, Colorado. Take in snow-capped Mt. Princeton and the white Chalk Cliffs of the canyon on what makes for a great family hike in the Arkansas River valley of Colorado.

Trail Snapshot: Agnes Vaille Falls

Parking & Trailhead Information for Agnes Vaille Falls

From Denver, take HWY 285 South for 124 Miles to Nathrop, Colorado. Take Chalk Creek Drive/CO-162 West for 8.7 miles into Chalk Creek Canyon. On this 8.7 mile segment, you'll Pass the Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort, then the Mt. Princeton USFS Campground. Just after the campground, the Cascade Creek Trailhead will be on the right, directly across from the Chalk Lake Campground. This whole segment of road, going up to St. Elmo has several camping options. Parking is limited at the Cascade Creek trailhead to about 12 vehicles. It's easy to miss the trailhead, so be sure to slow down and keep an eye out after you pass the Mt. Princeton Campground. The trail starts at the "Agnes Vaille" sign.

The Hike: Agnes Vaille Falls

The trail to Agnes Vaille Falls used to be a 1.2 mile out-and-back trip. Now, the upper segment is closed, so hikers are directed to take the approximately 1-mile loop hike on the Cascade Creek trail that still offers a view of the waterfall. Why did the upper trail to Agnes Vaille close? Sadly, in 2013, while on a family hike, a rockslide broke loose, tumbled down the canyon below the falls and killed 5 members of the hiking party. Plans are underway to rebuild the out-and-back trail, but no dates are posted for when it will be reopened. Follow the USFS regulations in this area as posted on the signage. The closed area of the trail may still be unstable and should not be hiked.

The Cascade Creek Loop creek still makes for a great family hike and offers views to the waterfall, and Mt. Princeton. The Chalk Cliffs surround the loop and look like something out of a storybook. In the fall, the aspen trees and cottonwoods glow with golden hues along the top bend of the loop. Mountain goats and bighorn sheep can be spotted along the rock above the trail.

Be sure to stop and read the USFS interpretive signs describing the history of the area, and the historical figures of of Agnes Vaille and Chief Antero for whom the waterfall and nearby 14er mountain, Mt. Antero, are named.

Tips & Resources for Hiking Agnes Vaille Falls

  • Waterfall Peak: The best time of year to see Agnes Vaille falls will be in the early summer months of May and June, when the snowmelt is at it's highest volume. Some years, if we have a heavy snowpack or late snows, flows can still be high into July.
  • Unstable Rock: While the areas is repaired and trail rerouted, this entire area is known for its unstable rock. Just a good look at the chalk cliffs gives you an idea of the geologic variety and instability of the area. Large boulders can shift and rocks accidentally knocked loose can injure hikers below. So, stay the trail, be alert, and follow the USFS regulations.
  • Hike, Camp, and Soak: Because there is camping nearby, more hiking, and amazing hot springs, make a weekend visit fo the area to take in the sights and relax. Drive up further on Cascade Creek road to take in Alpine Lake and the Colorado ghost town of St. Elmo.
  • Trail Map: Agnes Vaille Falls
  • 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 Brad Patterson for sharing such an amazing photograph of this hike at Agnes Vaille Falls.
  • After the Hike: Soak at Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort

waterfall in canyon with bridge in foreground fish creek falls waterfall in colorado


Map & Driving Directions

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fall colors along highway 67 between divide and cripple creek colorado on the way to horsethief falls hike

Horsethief Falls Hike Near Colorado Springs

Horsethief Falls is a small slab waterfall located 45 minutes from Colorado Springs on the West side of Pikes Peak. The Horsetheif Falls trail requires a 1.4-mile easy hike (one-way) to the falls. This hike, along with nearby Pancake Rocks make for great fall hiking and a scenic falls drive to see the golden aspens of the Colorado Front Range. The Horsethief Falls Trails joins up with two other trails if you would like to add more time to your adventure and explore the rock formations of this unique area. See the full Horsethief Falls hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this adventure near Colorado Springs.

Trail Snapshot: Horsethief Falls Hike

Horsethief Falls Trailhead Directions

Horsethief Falls trailhead is located just off of Highway 67 about halfway between Divide and Cripple Creek, Colorado. From Divide, turn south on Highway 67 and drive approximately 9.3 miles until you spot a closed railroad tunnel on the left side of the road. Just past the tunnel the road will bend and the trailhead parking area is on the left side of the road. Zoom in on the driving directions map at the bottom of this post to get a better visual on the parking area.

aspens and evergreens on the west side of pikes peak near pancake rocks and horsethief falls

The Hike: Horsethief Falls Trail

The Horsethief Falls Trail begins on right side of the old tunnel exit, following a wide dirt path steadily uphill before eventually flattening out. The elevation gain for this hike is just a bit over 500', so we considered grading its difficulty-level as moderate. However, because it's just 1.4 miles one-way, we kept it in the Easy hikes category.

The trail will cross the shallow creek at about 0.7 mile in. Here, hikers will encounter the first intersection. The Ring the Peak Trail (marked "Horsethief Park Trail" on the map) bears to the left, but the way up to Horsethief Falls is to continue straight on the Horsethief Falls Trail. Crossing the creek again the trail will soon intersect, at about 0.9 mile, with the Pancake Rocks Trail (on the right). Again, continue straight on the Horsetheif Falls trail. In this area, you'll be able to take in views to the northeast of Sentinel Point. This is an almost perfect area to take in the changing aspens along the forests surrounding Pikes Peak.

The trail will bend to the right (south) and cross over the creek once again and make its way up to the base of Horsethief Falls.

horsethief falls waterfall near cripple creek colorado

Tips & Resources for Hiking Horsethief Falls Hike


Map & Driving Directions

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tarryall falls near jefferson header

Tarryall Falls Near Jefferson, Colorado

The Tarryall Falls Trail is a short, 1/4 -mile hike across a small canyon to a waterfall that pours into Tarryall Creek. The slopes of snow-capped peaks along Boreas pass make for a majestic backdrop against the contrasting sage grasslands of surrounding South Park.Tarryall Falls draws its waters from the Tarryall Reservoir, a popular camping and fishing destination here in the high-plains. Explore the full Tarryall Falls hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this adventure near Jefferson, Colorado.

Trail Snapshot: Tarryall Falls Hike

Parking & Trailhead Information for Tarryall Falls Hike

From Denver, take HWY 285 South to Jefferson. In Jefferson, turn left onto CR77 and continue for about 17 miles. The parking pullout is on the southern tip of the reservoir on the right-hand side of the road. This is about 1hr 45 min drive.

From Colorado Springs, take US 24 toward Divide. At 5.4 miles west of Florissant turn right to Tarryall Road / CR 77. Continue on CR 77 for about 24 miles. This stretch makes for a beautiful drive, especially just before sunset when the Tarryalls are lit up all pink and orange. Just after mile 24, there will be a pullout parking area on the left side of the road alongside the reservoir. The hike description below begins at this parking area. This is about a 1hr 30 min drive from Colorado Springs.

The roadside viewing area is easily accessed by turning on to Turner Gulch Road. The parking area is located on the right-hand side of the road soon after turning onto Turner Gulch road.

The Hike: Tarryall Falls Hike

map of hike to tarryall falls
It's less than a 1/4 mile jaunt from the parking area to the waterfall, but be aware that the trail winds through some rocky and loose terrain on this unmaintained trail. The trail begins on the gravel path that heads down toward the reservoir then descends to a footbridge spanning Potato Gulch, a small canyon that serves as an overflow from the reservoir back into Tarryall Creek. I've marked the trail on the map above, but this is intended for general reference only. Take care as you navigate the trail as it winds through the rock on the other side of the footbridge. The path will lead to the top of the waterfall, then eventually down to the base of the falls. This area is not recommended for pets or children and if present should be supervised.

Sunlit mountain scenery of the tarryall mountains in colorado
As mentioned in the driving directions above, the stretch of road between Tarryall Reservoir and Lake George is one of my favorites for sunsets. Like the Flatirons of Boulder, the Tarryalls have a pink and orange hue but showcase deeper reds, especially at dusk. When the sunlight hits the rock, the mountains seem to come alive.

Hikers coming from Denver can make a day of it by first visiting the trails along Kenosha Pass, then driving to Tarryall Falls. From there, drive South on CR77 to Lake George, taking in the Tarryall Mountains until you come back out to HWY 24. Follow Highway 24 South to visit Rainbow Falls in Manitou Springs. Grab a bite to eat in Manitou or Colorado Springs, then stop by and visitHelen Hunt Falls. All three waterfalls in this driving loop require very little hiking. Finally, take Interstate 25 North back to the Denver area.

Tips & Resources for Hiking Tarryall Falls Hike


Map & Driving Directions

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waterfall in canyon with bridge in foreground fish creek falls waterfall in colorado

waterfall pouring over moss in wooded area near granby colorado

Pole Creek Falls Hike near Granby, Colorado

The Pole Creek Falls trail near Granby, Colorado is an easy out-and-back destination hike to a waterfall that courses down a huge dark slab of moss-covered rock. Purple mountain asters and active beaver dams can be observed along this family-friendly trail. Explore the full Pole Creek Falls hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this adventure near Granby.

Trail Snapshot: Pole Creek Falls Trail near Granby, Colorado

Parking, Trailhead, & Fee Information for Pole Creek Falls Hike

The trailhead for Pole Creek Falls is located on the YMCA Snow Mountain Ranch property just south of Granby, Colorado. To start out from Denver, take Interstate 70 to Highway 40. Highway 40 is a windy drive up and over Berthoud Pass, but the views make it worthwhile. You have the option of stopping at the top of Berthoud Pass to take in the alpine landscape. Then, stay on Hwy 40 through Winter Park, Fraser, and Tabernash. Turn left onto CR 53 (a sign for Snow Mountain Ranch will mark the road). As you drive into the property, look for the flagpole. This will mark your first stop, which is the Program office, the building immediately to the right of the flagpole/stone marquee entrance sign. This is where you'll need to purchase your day-pass (one for each person).

So, this is the real thing you have to consider for this hike: Is it worth the cost? The day-pass fees are $20 per adult and $10 per child 6-12. Kids 5 and under are free. The day-pass gets you access to all the hiking trails, biking trails, rec center, mini-golf, and swimming pool. However, if you're a guest at the ranch and paying for lodging, your day-use is included in the price.

After getting your passes, drive back out and turn right onto CR 53. Stay on CR53 as it turns into a dirt road and passes the riding stables. Just after the stables it will bear left (you'll notice on the Google map that the road name at this point is CR53/Blue Ridge Rd). At the fork, there will be signage for the waterfall trailhead that points you to the right (see photo below).

dirt road leading to pole creek falls trailhead

The trailhead parking is just a short distance further down the road from this fork. Here you'll find a toilet, picnic tables, and trash receptacles.

trailhead with picnic bench and cars for pole creek falls

The trailhead is located at the end of the parking area on the right-hand side of the lot (pictured below).

pole creek falls tabernash colorado trailhead
Pole Creek Falls Trailhead

The Hike: Pole Creek Falls Trail

My oldest daughter and I hiked to Pole Creek Falls in the middle of August, and the falls were still at a nice flow. I would think that the waterfall really gushes in the late-Spring and early-Summer. The trail was gradual and enjoyable all the way up to the falls. Early on the trail, hikers will encounter a fork with a small footbridge to the left (picture below). Here you'll want to bear right to keep on the main trail.

pole creek falls Granby colorado trail split

Eventually, the trail will enter a wooded area and cross over a couple footbridges as it follows Pole Creek up to the base of the waterfall.

pole creek falls Granby colorado bridge keep to right

Finally, the bridge pictured above, hikers will stay on the right-hand trail segment to access the base of the falls. The trail to the left leads around to a higher viewing area, but the best views of the waterfall are at the bottom.

pole creek falls waterfall pouring over rock in wooded area with aspens in Colorado

waterfall in canyon with bridge in foreground fish creek falls waterfall in colorado

Tips & Resources for Hiking the Pole Creek Falls Trail

  • TIP: After paying the daily access fee at the Program building in YMCA of the Rockies at Snow Mountain Ranch, obtain a map which leads to the trailhead along Blue Ridge Road, and marks the other trails on the property.
  • TIP: Wear Sunscreen as much of this hike is without shade.
  • Trail Map: Pole Creek Falls Trail near Granby
  • 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 Ditch in Winter Park


Map & Driving Directions

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baby mountain goat on mount evans colorado more easy hikes

mohawk lake with grey mountain faces in background on mohawk lakes hike near breckenridge colorado

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


Map & Driving Directions

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above bear lake in rmnp looking to glacier gorge colorado hike finder