|Hike Distance||15.6 miles Round Trip|
|Duration||Approx 7+ hr Round Trip|
|Trail Type||Out and Back|
|Elevation Gain||Approx. +2250′|
|Seasons||Late Spring through Early Fall|
|Dogs||Prohibited in RMNP|
|Hike Trail Map||Click for a Map of Lost Falls RMNP|
|Trails Illustrated Map||Recommended Topo Map Noting Location of Lost Falls|
|Denver Drive Time||1 hr 40 min|
|Driving Directions to Dunraven Trailhead||Click for Google Map|
|Town Nearest Hike||Estes Park, Colorado|
|Beauty||Waterfall, aspen, mountain views, wildlife: Abert’s squirrel, elk, deer, moose, bear; wildflowers|
|Activities||Picnicking, hiking trails, snowshoeing, horseback riding, backcountry camping (with a permit), photography|
|Fee||Park Pass Required|
Parking & Trailhead Information for Lost Falls
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.
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.
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.
Tips & Resources for Hiking to Lost Falls in RMNP
- Great Fishing: After the Spring melt, the North Fork of the Big Thompson River offers some great fishing for brook trout. We recommend terrestrials and small elk hair caddis flies.
- Bring plenty of food and water: It’s a long and demanding hikes, so be sure to carry plenty of water and food to fuel your hike. Better yet, reserve one of the campsites and enjoy exploring the area around Lost Lake.
- Trail Map for Lost Falls in RMNP: Trail Map Link. See marker near the intersection with the North Boundary Trail
- Trails Illustrated Map: Recommended Topo Map Noting Location of Lost Falls
- Packing List: Always pack the 10 Essentials. Download our Hiking Guide to get list and dayhiking packing checklist.
- Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
- After the Hike: Notchtop Bakery & Cafe
Map & Driving Directions
Click for Driving Directions