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

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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

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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

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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

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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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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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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.

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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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Horseshoe Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Horseshoe Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park is a favorite family hike near Estes Park, Colorado. It's a short and easy hike from the Alluvial Fan Trailhead, but the falls can also be viewed from the roadside. It's an extensive cascade waterfall, named for the way it bends its course through the rocky hillside. Explore the full Horseshoe 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: Horseshoe Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Parking & Trailhead Information for Horseshoe Falls

Horseshoe Falls can be accessed just outside Estes Park, Colorado by taking Fall River Road to Old Fall River Road. The East Alluvial Fan Trailhead is approximately 1/2 mile up Old Fall River Road, and the West Alluvial Fan Trailhead is just about 1/4 of a mile further. Because Horseshoe Falls is popular destination in RMNP, the parking fills up fast. There is an additional parking area just before reaching the East Alluvial Fan Trailhead, see this link for driving directions and map.

The Hike: Horseshoe Falls Trail in RMNP

This short hike to Horseshoe Falls got even shorter because of the 2013 flooding in the Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park area. As of this writing (6/30/2016) both the East and West Alluvial Fan Trailhead parking areas have reopened. However, the trails are still buried under rock and debris, and the bridge--which used to be a great viewing platform for Horseshoe Falls--has not been replaced. This doesn't mean a short hike up to the base of the falls is impossible, but it does require a some care in navigating the terrain. The official RMNP communications ask hikers first consult posted signs or speak with a park ranger before making the trek. As with all off-trail hiking along rivers, it's important to exercise caution near fast moving water and on the surrounding slippery surfaces of rocks and logs.

When the trail is repaired (assuming that it will use the same route), the Alluvial Fan Trail can be hiked from either of the two lots to the bridge viewing area, which is just under 1/4 mile one-way.

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Alluvial Fan Area at Twilight - Photo Courtesy of David Kingham

Horseshoe Falls and the larger Alluvial Fan area have an interesting history. Before the establishment of Rocky Mountain National Park, a twenty-six foot high dam was built to enlarge Lawn Lake, which is located about 6.5 miles north of Horseshoe Falls and a major source of the Roaring River. On a perfectly normal day in the Summer of 1982, an almost 100 foot stretch of the dam collapsed and sent a 30-foot high wall of water careening down the valley. At Horseshoe Park, much of the wash settled into what is now known as the 42 acre Alluvial Fan, comprised of sorted gravel, boulders--some over 400 tons--and streams of sand. Three people lost their lives in the flood, one camper, and two folks who had ventured out to capture photos of the event. The river surged all the way into the downtown of Estes Park, carrying away trees and cars, and breaking through another dam before being contained by Lake Estes.

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Tips & Resources for Hiking to Horseshoe Falls in RMNP

  • For Closure Updates: See the Rocky Mountain National Park Flood Impact and Closure page for updates on the conditions of this trail.
  • TIP: The Alluvial Fan and larger Horseshoe Park area are popular spots for viewing Elk.
  • Get there early: Parking may be somewhat limited as with many hikes in RMNP area and can get full even early in the morning.
  • Trail Map for Fall River Area: 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 Joan Morris Holzer for sharing such an amazing photograph of this hike to Horseshoe Falls in RMNP.
  • After the Hike: Mountain Home Café

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Map & Driving Directions


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Chasm Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Chasm Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park bursts through a chasm in Fall River where the rock funnels its waters into a narrow gorge. It's one of the more accessible waterfalls in RMNP, located about 100 yards off of Old Fall River Road. The only drawback is that parking fills fast. However, there are several parking and hike options that we detail in this trail profile. Explore the full Chasm 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: Chasm Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Parking & Trailhead Information for Chasm Falls

Parking is tricky for Chasm Falls. Depending on where you are able to park, the hike will be a 0.1 mile, 2.8 mile, or 4.8 mile round-trip hike. It's also important to know that Old Fall River Road is closed during the winter months from Nov 30th until the end of March. However, the dirt road gets a lot of traffic and needs a lot of maintenance; so, there may be Spring and Summer closures for repairs. For example, Fall River Road will not open to vehicles in 2016 until early July. We recommend that you visit the Rocky Mountain National Park Road Status page to plan your trip to Chasm Falls and your drive up Old Fall River Road. Below, you'll find the three different parking options

Parking Options for Chasm Falls, Rocky Mountain National Park

#1 - Pulloff Near Chasm Falls - 0.1 Mile Jaunt - Driving Directions
#2 - Endovalley Picnic Area Parking - 2.8 Mile Round Trip Hike - Driving Directions
#3 - West Alluvial Fan Parking Area - 4.8 Mile Round Trip Hike - Driving Directions

During the busy summer months, all of these parking areas fill fast. Dogs are typically not allowed in RMNP, but on certain days, they are allowed along Old Fall River Road as long as they are leashed. See the Old Fall River Road status page for days when dogs are allowed. The scenic drive up Old Fall River Road is half the adventure--but not for the faint of heart. It's a steep dirt road with no guardrails and lots of switchbacks. When the road is open, park visitors can drive it all the way up to the Alpine Visitor Center, and take Trail Ridge Road back down into Estes Park, or take Trail Ridge Road over to the west side of the park in Grand Lake, Colorado.

The Hike: Chasm Falls Trail in RMNP

The hike from the pulloff along Old Fall River Road is well-marked with signs. The short trail of approx. 100 yards leads down stone steps and a steep dirt trail. The bottom of the trail opens to a viewing platform. Like the parking areas, the platform can get quite crowded during the busy summer months.

If hiking up Old Fall River Road from either Endovalley or West Alluvial Fall parking areas, be sure to be aware of vehicles as they make their way up and down the road. This this can be a great winter hike or snowshoe trip during the winter. Usually this means starting from the West Alluvial Fan parking area.

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Tips & Resources for Hiking to Chasm Falls in RMNP

  • Prepare: Bring water and high-energy food.
  • Winter Road Closure: The road is closed to cars during winter. You may opt to plan on a longer hike during this season - starting from the West Alluvial parking area.
  • Get there early: Parking may be limited at most of the trailheads in RMNP during the summer months. Go early to get a good spot. By early, we mean before 7:30 AM.
  • Trail Map of Fall River Area: 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 Tim Vo for sharing such an amazing photograph of this hike to Chasm Falls in RMNP.
  • After the Hike: Mountain Home Café

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Map & Driving Directions


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Pulloff Near Chasm Falls

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