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MacGregor Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

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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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Lyric Falls Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

Lyric Falls is a beautiful stair-step waterfall that spills over the moss-covered granite slabs of Hunters Creek in Rocky Mountain National Park. A lesser-known waterfall, Lyric Falls requires a 3/4 mile segment on the unmaintained social trail that winds along Hunters Creek. Locating the falls may be a bit challenging and land navigation skills are needed for this hike in the Wild Basin area of RMNP. Explore the full Lyric 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: Lyric Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Parking & Trailhead Information for Lyric Falls

The Sandbeach Lake Trailhead is located off of County Road 84 near, just about 1/2 mile west from its junction with Highway 7. See the driving directions link above for the detailed route. The trailhead is across the street from the Wild Basin Lodge and Event Center. The trailhead has toilet facilities and parking capacity of about 25 cars (includes gravel side-lot).

The Hike: Lyric Falls Trail in RMNP

The first segment of the hike to Lyric Falls follows the Sandbeach Lake Trail for approximately 3.2 miles to the footbridge crossing Hunter's Creek. An indistinct social trail is located near the bridge on the east side of Hunter's creek. This second trail segment is 3/4 of a mile is unmaintained, which means that hikers should have a sufficient level of land navigation skills (map reading and proficiency with a compass/gps unit) to negotiate the terrain to Lyric Falls.

This .75 mile section follows the course of Hunter's Creek Northwest and uphill to the location of Lyric Falls. There is no marker for Lyric Falls, but it can be located on the National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map of Rocky Mountain National Park. Hikers will likely hear several smaller cascades along the way. In the same way, the cascades of Lyric Falls will be heard before seen, and the sounds of its splash and spray will be the best way to locate the falls.

A meadow bright with wildflowers can be found just bit further up Hunter's Creek beyond Lyric Falls.

Campsites Along the Lyric Falls Trail

Stay overnight and explore the larger Hunter's Creek Drainage. There are several Backcountry Camping sites along the Sandbeach Lake Trail: Hole-in-the-Wall, Campers Creek, Beaver Mill, and Sandbeach Lake. These backcountry camping sites can be reserved through the RMNP Backcountry Offices. Staying overnight, hikers can then explore Lyric Falls, Sandbeach Lake, and this lesser hiked area of the Wild Basin in Rocky Mountain National Park.

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Tips & Resources for Hiking to Lyric Falls in RMNP

  • Packing List: Always pack the 10 Essentials. Download our Hiking Guide to get list and dayhiking packing checklist.
  • Recommended Trail Map: We recommend the National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map which indicates the location of the Backcountry Camping Sites, and provides topo information, too.
  • Get there early: Parking is limited. Arrive early to secure a parking spot at the trailhead.
  • You’re in Bear Country: Black Bears live in the Wild Basin area and are active on the months of April through November. Be aware, dispose of your food responsibly, and don’t food or anything else with a strong scent in your vehicle.
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • Photo: We would like to express our gratitude to Thomas Mangan for sharing such great photos of this hike to Lyric Falls in RMNP. Tom leads photography tours in Rocky Mountain National Park. Check out his site thomasmagan.com for details.
  • After the Hike: Meadow Mountain Cafe in Allenspark, Colorado

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Ypsilon Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park Ypsilon Hike

Ypsilon Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Falls is a tiered waterfall hidden along the northern shore of Ypsilon Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. The 4.5 mile hike to this secluded waterfall follows the Ypsilon Lake trail, a demanding trek through the thick woods of the Mummy Range. Explore the full Ypsilon 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: Ypsilon Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Parking & Trailhead Information for Ypsilon Falls

The hike to Ypsilon Lake begins at the Lawn Lake Trailhead. Several other destinations in this lesser visited section of RMNP known as the Mummy Range, can be accessed from the Lawn Lake Trailhead, including Ypsilon Falls, Lawn Lake, Chipmunk Lake, and the Spectacle Lakes. The parking area is located on Old Fall River Road, just north of the intersection of Old Fall River Road and Highway 34.

The Hike: Ypsilon Falls Trail in RMNP

The hike begins on a 1.4 mile stretch of the Lawn Lake trail before the intersection with the Ypsilon Lake Trail. This initial segment climbs a series of switchbacks. While it may be tempting to cut the switchbacks, they are there for a couple important purposes: to control erosion, and to preserve your energy. Because this area of RMNP has been severely damaged by floods, it's all the more important to stay the trail. Because of the floods, there are also areas of unstable terrain.

At 1.4 mile, the Ypsilon Lake trail junction will emerge on the left-hand side of the Lawn Lake trail. Here, the trail crosses the Roaring River--but the bridge has been washed out by a flood in the Spring of 2013. At the time of writing this trail profile (June 2016) the bridge has not been replace. However, the river can be crossed at low water. It's easy to underestimate the hydraulic force of a river, so exercise care in crossing. If you're planning to hike to Ypsilon Lake, it's important to have a back plan, just in case you run into high water levels at the ford. Typically, the water levels are low, but both snowmelt and heavy rains can change levels quickly.

Approximately 0.5 mile after crossing the Roaring River (@ 2 miles), the trail begins a sustained climb along the ridge of a moraine. This longest segment of the hike leads through thick timber, then crests at 3.8 miles before descending to Chipmunk Lake @ 4.0 miles. The mountain peak reflections in Chipmunk Lake make this worth stopping for a photo.

There is a backcountry camping area with two individual sites just past Chimpmunk Lake at 10,640'. Camping permits can be obtained through the RMNP Wilderness offices. The trail from Chipmunk Lake to Ypsilon lake is just 0.5 mile, arriving at Ypsilon's western shore. Hikers who pause to listen may hear the sounds of Ypsilon Falls. This segmented and tiered cascade can be accessed by crossing a small footbridge, then hiking toward the sounds of the falls along Ypsilon's northwestern shore.

The return hike follows the same route back to the Lawn Lake trailhead, making this a 9-mile, round-trip journey.

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Tips & Resources for Hiking to Ypsilon Falls in RMNP

  • Packing List: Always pack the 10 Essentials. Download our Hiking Guide to get list and dayhiking packing checklist.
  • Bridge Out: Due to the damage caused by a flood in September 2013, the bridge over Roaring River is missing. Cross only during low water, and see the RMNP flood closures page for updates.
  • Get there early: Parking may be somewhat limited as with many hikes in RMNP area and can get full even early in the morning.
  • Recommended Trail Map: We recommend the National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map which indicates the location of the Upper Chipmunk Backcountry Camping Site, and provides topo information.
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • Photo: We would like to express our gratitude to Aaron Cooper for sharing such an amazing photograph of this hike to Ypsilon Falls in RMNP.
  • After the Hike: Mountain Home Café

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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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Falcon Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Falcon Falls is one of two waterfalls that spill from the heights above Thunder Lake in this remote part of the Wild Basin. It's a difficult and demanding 16 mile round-trip hike that requires some land navigation and backcountry travel skills. Explore the full Falcon 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: Falcon Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Parking & Trailhead Information for Falcon Falls

The southeast corner of Rocky Mountain National Park boasts one of the loveliest portions in the park known as the Wild Basin. The Wild Basin Trailhead is located just 15 minutes outside of Allenspark, Colorado along Highway 115. There is a ranger station at at the Wild Basin Trailhead with toilets and drinking water available.

In the winter (October-May), Hwy 115 may not be plowed to the trailhead, and hikers will need to park their vehicles at a winter parking lot for Wild Basin hikes. Be aware that hikes from the winter parking lot add on another 3 miles of hiking (one-way). There are other small parking areas, like the Finch Lake Trailhead, that may be accessible and allow hikers to park closer to the Wild Basin Trailhead. It's important to know that Hwy 115, though titled a "highway", is a maintained dirt road, which means that it can be used by 2WD vehicles. However, after heavy rains and other severe weather, its quality may degrade until it is repaired. 4WD may be needed when snow is on the ground.

The Hike: Falcon Falls Trail in RMNP

The hike up to view Falcon Falls leads hikers past three sets of cascade waterfalls, around the shore of Thunder Lake, and up some rugged and steep terrain to Fan Falls, where Falcon Falls can be viewed in the near distance, just to the northwest. The hike from Fan Falls to Falcon can be navigated, but it's difficult and should only be attempted by hikers who have experience with land navigation in the backcountry.

Beginning at the Wild Basin Trailhead, the trail passes by Copeland Falls, a set of two cascade waterfalls just 0.4 mile into the hike. For details on accessing both the lower and upper leaps of Copeland Falls, be sure to explore our full trail profile for Copeland Falls.

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Copeland Falls - Photo Courtesy of Ben Graham

The trail then follows North Saint Vrain Creek, until it meets with a trail junction. The trail to the right leads past a series of backcountry campsites, and is a slightly more direct route to Thunder Lake and Fan Falls. However, the left-hand trail is not much longer and takes hikers past two more waterfalls, Calypso Cascades and Ouzel Falls. The rest of this trail profile will explain this route.

Having taken the left-hand trail, it will soon cross a hefty log bridge spanning North St. Vrain Creek. Stop here to enjoy an unnamed set of cascades. Soon the trail will meet with a second trail junction at Calypso Cascades. The right-hand trail leads hikers to the cascades, over another bridge that crosses Cony Creek at 1.8 miles, then weaves up a set of switchbacks to Ouzel Falls at 2.7 miles.

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Calypso Cascades - Photo Courtesy of Jeff Kramer

After Ouzel Falls, the trail comes to a junction with the Bluebird Lake trail at 3.7 miles. However, the way to Fan falls passes by this junction and keeps going straight/northwest. In approximately 1.5 mile from the Bluebird Trail junction @ 5.2 miles into the hike, the trail makes a final split. The right leads up to the Lion Lakes and to Thunder Falls. The trail to the left leads up to Thunder Lake, and off-trail access to Fan Falls, and Falcon Falls.

At Thunder Lake, the way to Fan Falls requires some listening and attention to the landscape. Hikers should be familiar with backcountry travel and land navigation because this remaining segment requires hiking on unmarked and lesser traveled social trails. Hiking along the right/north side of the lake, a social trail leads back into the forest. When the trees open up into a clearing, the sounds of Fan Falls become apparent. Following the sound of the waterfall and the creek, hikers can pick their way through rock, brush, and deadfall until reaching the base of Fan Falls.

Here at Fan Falls, Falcon Falls can be seen approximately 1/4 of a mile to the the northwest. Falcon Falls is formed by a creek that spills out of Falcon Lake, a small alpine lake located about 600' above Thunder Lake. The hike over to Falcon Falls requires first descending to where the landscape is not so steep and rocky, as a lateral hike would require travel through steep and difficult terrain. After descending to less steep terrain, look for the social trail that leads over to the creek flowing out of Falcon Lake. Hiking along and up the creek that flows out of Falcon Lake, through rock and thick brush, hikers will emerge at the base of Falcon Falls. This makes for an 8 to 8.25 mile one-way hike from the Wild Basin Trailhead.

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Tips & Resources for Hiking to Falcon Falls in RMNP

  • TIP: A patrol cabin is located on the northeast shore of Thunder Lake. Though kept locked, the eaves can offer some limited shelter from afternoon rainstorms.
  • Camping: The Thunder Lake campsite and others along this route can be reserved through the Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness Offices. Because this is an extensive hike in rugged country, it may be wise to make this expedition a part of a multi-day trip.
  • TIP: There are food storage lockers available at the Wild Basin, Finch Lake, and Sandbeach Lake Trailheads. These are required for visitors staying overnight.
  • Get there early: Parking may be somewhat limited as with many hikes in RMNP area and can get full even early in the morning.
  • You're in Bear Country: Black Bears live in the Wild Basin area and are active on the months of April through November. Be aware, and dispose of your food responsibly.
  • Recommended Map for Rocky Mountain National Park & Falcon Falls: The trail maps provided by Rocky Mountain National Park are usually sufficient. However, for the hike up to Fan Falls, we highly recommend purchasing a National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map.
  • 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 Sam Cox for sharing such an amazing photograph of this hike to Falcon Falls in RMNP.
  • After the Hike: Rock Creek Tavern & Pizzeria

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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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Pulloff Near Chasm Falls

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Trio Falls Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

Trio Falls is among the most stunning waterfalls that you will encounter in Rocky Mountain National Park, or in Colorado. But it comes at a price: A 15-mile round-trip, demanding hike. Because of this, the hike up to Trio Falls may best be part of an overnight camping trip in the park. Explore the full Trio 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: Trio Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Parking & Trailhead Information for Trio Falls

The southeast corner of Rocky Mountain National Park boasts one of the loveliest portions in the park known as the Wild Basin. The Wild Basin Trailhead is located just 15 minutes outside of Allenspark, Colorado along Highway 115. There is a ranger station at at the Wild Basin Trailhead with toilets and drinking water available.

In the winter (October-May), Hwy 115 may not be plowed to the trailhead, and hikers will need to park their vehicles at a winter parking lot for Wild Basin hikes. Be aware that hikes from the winter parking lot add on another 3 miles of hiking (one-way). There are other small parking areas, like the Finch Lake Trailhead, that may be accessible and allow hikers to park closer to the Wild Basin Trailhead. It's important to know that Hwy 115, though titled a "highway", is a maintained dirt road, which means that it can be used by 2WD vehicles. However, after heavy rains and other severe weather, its quality may degrade until it is repaired. 4WD may be needed when snow is on the ground.

The Hike: Trio Falls Trail in RMNP

The hike up to Trio Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park combines both distance and a fair amount of elevation gain to make this a very challenging hike. Because Trio Falls is 7 1/2 miles from the trailhead, few make the journey; but the solitude and the sights are worth it to those who make the effort. Because the round-trip hike is 15+ miles, it's advisable to make this hike a part of a multi-day camping trip in the park. If you are considering camping, there are several reservable backcountry camping spots in the Wild Basin area, and camping permits can be obtained through the RMNP Wilderness offices.

Trio Falls is located between Lion Lake #1 and Lion Lake #2 in the Wild Basin. For a detailed trail description of the almost 7-mile hike to Lion Lake #1, which takes hikers past three other waterfalls, be sure to explore the trail profile for Lion Lake #1.

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Lion Lake #1 - Courtesy of Shea Oliver.

At Lion Lake #1, there is a social trail that runs along the right/east side of the lake. Because this next segment is on unmaintained trails in a remote section of the park, hikers should possess both land navigation skills, map, and equipment. This social trail leads for about 1/2 mile along the lake, beyond into rocky terrain, and eventually to the waterfall.

There are a lower and an upper set of cascades to Trio Falls. Following the trail past the lower cascades requires a scramble and negotiating an passage through thick willows and rock. Hikers should exercise extra caution in this wet and rocky terrain.

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Tips & Resources for Hiking to Trio Falls in RMNP

  • Recommended Trail Map: We recommend the National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map which indicates the location of Trio Falls, and provides topo information.
  • TIP: There are food storage lockers available at the Wild Basin, Finch Lake, and Sandbeach Lake Trailheads.
  • Itinerary: It should go without saying, but be sure to always leave an itinerary with family and/or friends, and give them a call when you are back at the trailhead or within cell range.
  • Another Waterfall: If you are lucky and there is an ample flow of water, another waterfall can be spotted pouring down from the cliffs near Trio Falls.
  • Get there early: Parking may be limited as with many hikes in RMNP area and can get full even early in the morning.
  • You're in Bear Country: Black Bears live in the Wild Basin area and are active on the months of April through November. Be aware, and dispose of your food responsibly.
  • Trail Map for Wild Basin 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 Steven Bratman for sharing such an amazing photograph of this hike to Trio Falls in RMNP.
  • After the Hike: Rock Creek Tavern & Pizzeria

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Fan Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Fan Falls is tucked away in the high reaches of the Wild Basin of Rocky Mountain National Park. This 15.5 mile, difficult trek, leads to a long set of segmented cascades spilling out of the heights and streaming down into Thunder Lake. This garden of water, wildflowers and rock is a perfect escape for those looking for a demanding hike to a more secluded spot. Explore the entire Fan 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: Fan Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

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A Stream Along the Cascades of Fan Falls

Parking & Trailhead Information for Fan Falls

The southeast corner of Rocky Mountain National Park boasts one of the loveliest portions in the park known as the Wild Basin. The Wild Basin Trailhead is located just 15 minutes outside of Allenspark, Colorado along Highway 115. There is a ranger station at at the Wild Basin Trailhead with toilets and drinking water available.

In the winter (October-May), Hwy 115 may not be plowed to the trailhead, and hikers will need to park their vehicles at a winter parking lot for Wild Basin hikes. Be aware that hikes from the winter parking lot add on another 3 miles of hiking (one-way). There are other small parking areas, like the Finch Lake Trailhead, that may be accessible and allow hikers to park closer to the Wild Basin Trailhead. It's important to know that Hwy 115, though titled a "highway", is a maintained dirt road, which means that it can be used by 2WD vehicles. However, after heavy rains and other severe weather, its quality may degrade until it is repaired. 4WD may be needed when snow is on the ground.

The Hike: Fan Falls Trail in RMNP

The hike up to Fan Falls leads through the central area of the Wild Basin, taking hikers past three sets of cascade waterfalls, around the shore of Thunder Lake, and finally to a lonely creek dropping into a series of rocky cascades.

Beginning at the Wild Basin Trailhead, the trail passes by Copeland Falls, a set of two cascade waterfalls just 0.4 mile into the hike. For details on accessing both the lower and upper leaps of Copeland Falls, be sure to explore our full trail profile for Copeland Falls.

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Copeland Falls - Photo Courtesy of Ben Graham

The trail then follows North Saint Vrain Creek, until it meets with a trail junction. The trail to the right leads past a series of backcountry campsites, and is a slightly more direct route to Thunder Lake and Fan Falls. However, the left-hand trail is not much longer and takes hikers past two more waterfalls, Calypso Cascades and Ouzel Falls. The rest of this trail profile will explain this route.

Having taken the left-hand trail, it will soon cross a hefty log bridge spanning North St. Vrain Creek. Stop here to enjoy an unnamed set of cascades. Soon the trail will meet with a second trail junction at Calypso Cascades. The right-hand trail leads hikers to the cascades, over another bridge that crosses Cony Creek at 1.8 miles, then weaves up a set of switchbacks to Ouzel Falls at 2.7 miles.

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Calypso Cascades - Photo Courtesy of Jeff Kramer

After Ouzel Falls, the trail comes to a junction with the Bluebird Lake trail at 3.7 miles. However, the way to Fan falls passes by this junction and keeps going straight/northwest. In approximately 1.5 mile from the Bluebird Trail junction, the trail makes a final split. The right leads up to the Lion Lakes and to Thunder Falls. The trail to the left leads up to Thunder Lake and Fan Falls.

At Thunder Lake, the way to Fan Falls requires some listening and attention to the landscape. Hikers should be familiar with backcountry travel and land navigation because this remaining segment requires hiking on unmarked and lesser traveled social trails. Hiking along the right/north side of the lake, the way leads into the forest. When the trees open up into a clearing, the sounds of Fan Falls become apparent. Following the sound of the waterfall and the creek, hikers can pick their way through rock, brush, and deadfall until reaching the base of Fan Falls. Bluebells and other wildflowers grow out from between the rock, painting the splash and spray of the cascades with color.

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A Pond Above Fan Falls in RMNP

The source of Fan Falls can be accessed by hiking higher to the area above the cascades. Here, a small pond holding the meltwater from the winter's snow reflects the towering and craggy peaks that surround it.

The return hike traces the same route. However, one change can be made: Instead of taking the trail back to Ouzel Falls and Calypso Cascades, hikers can take the trail that stays to the North/left of North St. Vrain creek and passes the several backcountry campsites.

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Tips & Resources for Hiking to Fan Falls in RMNP

  • Camping: The Thunder Lake campsite and others along this route can be reserved through the Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness Offices. Because this is an extensive hike in rugged country, it may be wise to make this expedition a part of a multi-day trip.
  • Lockers: There are food storage lockers available at the Wild Basin, Finch Lake, and Sandbeach Lake Trailheads. These are required for visitors staying overnight.
  • Get there early: Parking may be somewhat limited as with many hikes in RMNP area and can get full even early in the morning.
  • You're in Bear Country: Black Bears live in the Wild Basin area and are active on the months of April through November. Be aware, and dispose of your food responsibly.
  • Recommended Map for Rocky Mountain National Park: The trail maps provided by Rocky Mountain National Park are usually sufficient. However, for the hike up to Fan Falls, we highly recommend purchasing a National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map.
  • 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 Shea Oliver for sharing such amazing photographs of this hike to Fan Falls in RMNP.
  • After the Hike: Meadow Mountain Cafe in Allenspark, CO

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