bridal veil falls waterfall pouring over cliff face with waterwheel at base among green trees in idaho springs colorado

Bridal Veil Falls in Idaho Springs

Bridal Veil Falls is best viewed from Water Wheel Park, a short and easy walk from the downtown of Idaho Springs, Colorado. The legacy of steam locomotives and gold mining make this a historic hike in an historic Colorado town. Explore the full Bridal Veil Falls hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and many of the details you need to enjoy this waterfall in Idaho Springs, Colorado.

Trail Snapshot: Bridal Veil Falls in Idaho Springs

Parking & Trailhead Information for Bridal Veil Falls, Idaho Springs

The parking area for this short hike/walk is in downtown Idaho Springs, at the corner of 17th and Water Street, which is situated behind the downtown restaurants and shops. Use the driving directions above, which lead to Harold Anderson Park. At this small park, just across from the parking lot, you'll pick up a concrete path that leads under interstate 70 to Water Wheel park (scheduled to open early June of 2016). See the marked map below for a visual of the parking area, trail (yellow dots), and the location of Water Wheel Park.

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The Hike: Bridal Veil Falls, Idaho Springs

It's a little hike (more of a stroll) with a lot of history. Starting at Harold Anderson Park, you'll want to take a gander at Locomotive #60, one of five remaining steam engines that ran on the narrow gauge rails of the Colorado and Southern Railway. Kids will love the train and the other sites along this short jaunt.

The Charlie Taylor Waterwheel Trail leads under Interstate 70 then goes west for about 1/10th of a mile before it arrives at the best viewing area for Bridal Veil Falls. The waterfall spills out of Soda Creek high above, making its way then into Clear Creek, a stream famous for its gold, river rafting, and Coors Beer. The water wheel that's just north of Bridal Veil Falls was built in the late 1800's by a local miner, Charlie Taylor. Taylor used the water wheel to drive a machine called a stamp mill--imagine a big hammer that grinds and crushes rock to get silver and gold ore out of it. It was relocated from Ute Creek to its present location by a group of volunteers in the 1980's and now belongs to the Idaho Springs Historical Society. The Colorado Department of Transportation is renovating Water Wheel Park during the Spring of 2016 with a goal to have the project completed and reopen the park in early June.

There are several Bridal Veil falls in Colorado. For Bridal Veil Falls at Hanging Lake, view our Guide to Hiking Hanging Lake page. Or Explore our trail profile for Bridal Veil Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park.

If you are vacationing in the area and looking for more places to explore with your family, we recommend checking out Echo Lake, the Mt. Evans Summit Hike, or the Mt. Bierstadt Trail on Guanella Pass. See our day trip recommendation in the tips section below.

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Tips & Resources for Hiking Bridal Veil Falls, Idaho Springs

  • Plan a Day Trip: Make this a family day trip by arriving early at Echo Lake to see the reflection of Mt. Evans in its mirror waters, then drive up to the Summit of Mount Evans. After your drive back down, take in the sites of Bridal Veil Falls at Water Wheel Park, then grab lunch at Beaujo's Pizza in downtown Idaho Springs.
  • Add a Railroad Hike Tour: The Georgetown Loop Railroad still operates on what remains of track of the old C&S Railroad. Located just a few minutes drive from Idaho Springs, they offer a hike + railroad tour, a great family adventure near Denver. Explore more at our Georgetown Railroad Hike page.
  • 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 John Weitzel for sharing such an amazing photograph of Bridal Veil Falls in Idaho Springs, Colorado.
  • After the Hike: Beaujo's Pizza

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Georgetown Railroad Hike & Train Ride

After the hike, I asked our 7 year-old daughter what she thought of it. Her reply said it all, “Dad, it was awesome!” Here favorite parts were the fairy pond, a small, moss-rimmed pool probably created by miners long ago to hold drinking water, and the gleaming minerals in the rocks she picked up along the trail. I enjoyed the history and stories told by our guide, Kelsey, who had a particular love for the town and people of Georgetown and Silver Plume. This not your typical Dayhike Near Denver because it's actually a guided historic tour meets hike, plus a train ride on a vintage train back to the trailhead. Read below for all the details for this reservation-required hiking tour.

Trail Snapshot: Georgetown Railroad Hike & Train Ride

The Georgetown Railroad hike is a one-of-a-kind guided hike through the clear creek valley, a landscape decorated by the rich history of the Colorado Gold Rush of 1859. If you take just a moment to scan the mountainsides along interstate 70, you'll notice the yellow-stained tailings of abandoned gold mines. This hike takes you right through the very heart of that forgotten territory. We got to take a sneak-peek of the trail before it opened, so I brought our 7 year old daughter with me for our date-night, and she loved it.

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The hike begins in Silver Plume, Colorado at the historical railroad station and museum. On the hike you'll have one to two guides who accompany your party. Groups are typically about 10 hikers. The hike begins on a nondescript gravel road, but soon enters an old, overgrown cemetery. From the graveyard, the trail descends into a healthy stand of lodgepole pines. We could see mist in the valley below, and the sound of the train in the distance. Though the sounds of interstate 70 are not far away, it's like stepping back in time. The hummingbirds zooming past us, and the rapids of Clear Creek below us brought the valley alive.

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The best sounds, however, came from the steam train in the valley below. Kids will love this. It's a unique experience to be on a hike, then to watch a train pass in front of you, below you, and even above you on the tracks. And it creates anticipation of the train ride back.

The hike itself is quite easy and could be done in about 45 minutes--if it was all about speed. But the destination for the Georgetown Railroad hike is the entire journey. Our tour guide pointed out old claim markers from the 1800's, the remains of mining equipment, barrels, and tin buckets tucked away in the woods. She told stories, and showed us things we would have missed just hiking through. At roughly halfway through the hike, you'll stop for lunch (lunch is provided) in a grove of aspens that has a great story of its own. Keep your eyes peeled for the foxes and deer that frequent this part of the valley floor.
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My daughter was captivated by the gleaming biotite and muscovite in the rocks alongside the trail. Our guide picked some special ones out for her to take home. After lunch, you'll hike by the Hall Tunnel, and the old Lebanon mine. Crossing the tracks, then following inactive segments, you'll make your way down into Georgetown. The trail leads under the the Devil's Gate High Bridge and ends at the Devil's Gate Station--named such because of the way the wind howls through this part of the valley.

Just when you think the fun is over, you get a 30-45 minute train ride back to your car in Silver Plume.

Tips & Resources for the Georgetown Railroad Hike & Train Ride:

  • Call Ahead to book Your Hiking Tour: 1-888-456-6777
  • Great for Kids: I would guess that the youngest age to take on this hike would be 6 years old, but it really depends on the child. Our daughter is pretty rough-and-tumble. The pace is right, and their are a lot of things to keep their attention.
  • Supervise Kids on the Tracks: Kids will want to run fast down the railroad tracks, but the ties prove to be pretty uneven ground. Our 7 year old daughter tripped and got a little scrape on her knee, but was fine. Your guide will give you safety tips, but they will also be very engaged in giving you the tour.
  • Restrooms: There are restrooms about 1/2 way through the hike at the Lebanon mine site.
  • It's a Hike: I'd classify this as an easy hike, but there are some segments where the trail is steep and runs through soft gravel, where it's easy to slip. While it's a guided tour, it's not a bike path--it's still a hike.
  • Footwear: Wear close-toed shoes. Boots are not necessary, but I'd recommend something that laces up.
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • After the Hike: The Alpine Restaurant & Bar in Georgetown

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