Colorado Waterfall Trails

Colorado waterfall trails can be found throughout the state, and here are a few worth hiking. As you can see, I include pictures, descriptions, and directions for each waterfall. I do want you to find them so you can enjoy them as much as I have!

O.K., so if you're ready, here are the first six waterfall trails on this page:

Silver Falls, Colorado

Silver Falls
One-way distance: 1/8 of a mile
Difficulty level: moderate to difficult
Approximate one-way hiking time: 15 minutes;
Dog friendly: yes
Entrance fee: no
Restroom facilities: no
Elevation: 8,600 feet at the falls

Directions to Silver Falls: from Pagosa Springs, go east on Colorado Hwy. 160 for about ten miles from the San Juan River bridge, (in Pagosa Springs), then turn right, (east), on East Fork Road which is #667. Follow this dirt road for about eight miles; at which point you'll see the historic Silver Falls Forest Service Guard Station on the left side of the road. The parking area for the falls is just beyond the guard station, on your left. You'll see the sign saying Silver Falls.

You should know that the dirt road leading to this Colorado waterfall can be very wet in spots early in the season. We visited Silver Falls in later June, and there was lots of water in various spots along the road. The worst of it was a spot where a stream crossed the road and we had to drive through it. So you need to have a higher clearance vehicle or SUV to see this falls early in the season, which is actually the best time to see it.

Once you reach the parking area for Silver Falls, there are only 3 or 4 spots, but I assume you can park on the side of the road if you need to. The trail starts on the other side of the gate that you'll see at the trailhead.

Follow the trail through the trees and you'll notice other trails along the way. Try to keep to the one that looks like the main trail. If you do get on a different trail, I think most of them go to the same place anyway.

When you get close to the creek, the trail to this Colorado waterfall gets steeper, especially when you get closer to the falls, so just take your time. From that point, you're almost there and you will come out of the trees and into an open area where you'll have a grand view of the falls...enjoy. :-)

Cascade Falls, Ouray, Colorado

Cascade Falls
One-way distance: .25 mile
Difficulty level: moderate
Approximate one-way hiking time: 10 minutes;
Dog friendly: yes
Entrance fee: no
Restroom facilities: no
Elevation: 8,360 feet at the falls

Directions to Cascade Falls: from US 550 in Ouray, (which is the main street through town), go uphill, (east), on 8th Avenue and follow it the short distance to the parking area and trailhead.

The nice thing about this Colorado waterfall trail is that it's short, but it's also a little steep so take your time. At the trailhead, just follow the stream as it leads you up to the waterfall. Parts of the trail are rocky, so watch your footing. Also, there are a few signs along the way that tell you about the area and the falls, so keep an eye out for them and have fun. :-)


Vermillion Falls, Colorado

Vermillion Falls
One-way distance: .3 mile from Vermillion Falls sign;
Difficulty level: fairly easy
Dog friendly: yes
Entrance fee: no
Restroom facilities: no
Elevation: 5,480 feet at the falls

Directions to Vermillion Falls: from Steamboat Springs, follow U.S. 40 west to Maybell, passing through Hayden and Craig on your way. Just outside of Maybell, (west of Maybell), turn right onto CO Hwy. 318. Follow CO 318 to mile marker 20. Just beyond mile marker 20, turn left onto the dirt road at the sign for Vermillion Falls. There is no real parking area, (that we could see), so just park where you choose.

This area of Colorado is very dry, isolated, and remote, so if you head out to see this falls, make sure you have food, water, and plenty of gas in your car. It took us about 2 hours to reach the turn-off for the falls from Steamboat Springs, and it was about 112 miles.

I didn't give you an approximate one-way hiking time for this Colorado waterfall because it depends on where you park your car. We parked part way down the dirt road towards the falls, (which wasn't the best idea), and it was only a few minutes down the road from there. It's better to park somewhere in the flat area before the dirt road heads down fairly steeply.

Anyway, before you reach the downhill portion of the road, you'll come to a fork in the road, and you want to follow the right fork. The road starts to get a little rougher from this point, but just keep going and before long, you'll come to a Colorado waterfall, (on your right), that looks as though it came out from no where...it doesn't seem possible that there could be a waterfall there, but there is. :-)

Robinson Basin waterfall, near Crested Butte, Colorado

Robinson Basin waterfall
One-way distance: 1 mile
Difficulty level: moderate
Approximate one-way hiking time: 45 minutes;
Dog friendly: yes
Entrance fee: no
Restroom facilities: no, but there is near Lake Irwin;

Directions to Robinson Basin waterfall: from Gunnison, follow Hwy. 135 north to Crested Butte. (It’s about a half hour drive.) In Crested Butte, turn left onto Whiterock Ave. which becomes Kebler Pass Rd. Follow this road about 6 miles to the Lake Irwin turnoff on your right. Turn right here and drive about 2 more miles to Lake Irwin.

Once there, follow the road over the lake’s spillway and pass Lake Irwin and the campground on your right. (Beyond the campground, a higher clearance vehicle is highly recommended.) Continue to follow the rough dirt road for a short time until you see the fork in the road where the right fork goes to the old Irwin Lodge. There is no parking area here, but do your best to park someplace on the side of the road in the general area of the fork in the road, or a short distance before it. The road that goes straight becomes a four-wheel drive road.

Anyway, once you’ve parked your vehicle and you’re ready to go, just follow the dirt road that goes straight. This is your “hiking” trail and it will lead you up to this un-named, (as far as I know), Colorado waterfall in Robinson Basin.

Some parts of the road leading to this Colorado waterfall are fairly steep. But to make up for it, there are lots of wildflowers of all different kinds in the meadows all around you. Generally the best time to see them at their peak is in July. Crested Butte has their wildflower festival in mid July, so I assume that’s usually about the very best time for the wildflowers.

There’s also a creek that follows along parts of the road, and lots of mountain scenery all around you since you’re hiking through an open area. When you get far enough up the road, you can look back and see Lake Irwin below you. At one point, the road passes over the creek and from that point, it’s only a short distance to this Colorado waterfall. You’ll see it on your left, just a short distance away from the road. You can’t miss it. :-)

By the way, we saw this Colorado waterfall in about mid August, so if you go earlier in the hiking season, you'll find more water in it than we did. Also, if you were wondering about the elevation there, I don't know :-). But I do know that the elevation at Lake Irwin is 10,500 feet. So the falls would be somewhere a little higher than that.

The Cascades waterfall, Aspen, Colorado

The Cascades waterfall
Difficulty level: easy
Approximate one-way hiking time: less than five minutes to view point;
Dog friendly: yes, but must be leashed
Entrance fee: no
Restroom facilities: yes
Elevation: 9,480 feet at parking lot

Directions to the Grottos Day Use Area, where The Cascades waterfall is: from Aspen, follow Hwy. 82 east for about nine miles. (It’s about one mile beyond the Weller Campground, which you’ll see on your left.) The turn-off for the Grottos Day Use area is on your right, and you’ll see the sign for it. At the turn-off, you go down a gravel road for about 200 feet to the parking area. There are about 10-15 parking spots at the parking area, and they fill up quickly, especially on weekends. So, try to get there early. There’s also a small amount of parking along the dirt road into this area, but not much.

Anyway, if you’re ready to go see this Colorado waterfall, here’s what to do: from the parking area, go left on the trail that is just before the bridge, (also on your left as you drive in to the parking area), going over the creek. This trail is a flat dirt path that leads you through a pine forest along the creek. Within a few minutes, you’ll reach an open area from which you have a nice view of the falls.

You will also find a picnic table there, and if no one else is using it, you could have lunch there. If you want to get an up-close view of the falls, you could do this: instead of going left on the trail before the bridge, cross the bridge and follow the trail. That trail will take you to an up-close look at the falls.

Missouri Creek waterfall, Colorado

Missouri Creek waterfall
One-way distance: .8 miles
Difficulty level: easy to moderate
Approximate one-way hiking time: 30 minutes
Dog friendly: yes, but must be leashed
Entrance fee: no
Restroom facilities: yes, at Fancy Lake trailhead which is nearby;
Elevation: 10,020 feet at the trailhead

Directions to Missouri Lakes trailhead: from Vail, take I-70 west to exit 171 which is marked Minturn/Leadville Hwy 24. Follow Hwy. 24 south through Minturn for 13 miles to Homestake Road which is also National Forest Road 703. Turn right onto Homestake Rd. which is just beyond mile marker 156. (Homestake Rd. is a dirt washboard road.) Drive past the Gold Park Campground, (on your left), for about 8 miles to Road 704. Make a sharp right turn onto Road 704 which is narrower, rougher, and also a washboard road. Follow this road for 2.2 miles to a T in the road. At the T, turn left into the Missouri Lakes trailhead.

It took us about one hour to reach this trailhead from Vail, and there is room for about 10 cars at the trailhead. Also, there is more parking at the Fancy Lake trailhead, (which is close by), if you need it. And if you were wondering, a regular car can make it here, but you should drive slowly and carefully on the dirt roads.

Just a little useful note…shortly after you start this hike, you’ll come to a split in the trail. The left trail is narrow and the right trail is wider. We took the right-hand trail which is supposed to be better, but both trails go to the same place. So you can go whichever way you please :-).

The first part of the trail to this Colorado waterfall is easy, then becomes more moderate. Most of it travels through a pine forest, but the sun is still able to shine through in various places along the way. At one point, you’ll pass by a pond/small lake, on the left side of the trail. Keep going, and before you know it, you’ll reach an open area and this is where you’ll see the waterfall, off to your left.

We did this hike in mid August, so if you go earlier in the season, you’ll probably see more water in the falls than we did. Have fun :-).

If you know about any Colorado waterfall trails that you don't see on this website, I'd love to know about them. I'm always looking for new waterfalls to add to this site so we can all enjoy them. If you have the time, just send me an email through my contact form. Thanks very much.

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