Waterfall Hikes

Peace and tranquility, something we are all in search of. When the snow starts to melt take the time to hike up to a waterfall, sit and listen, no worries no stress. Your problems seem to go away and all you hear is the rushing of water cascading over the rocks.

Here are 3 beautiful hikes for you to enjoy.
Hike 1: McCullough Gulch:

Easy Hikes from Breckenridge:
Hoosier Pass Loop:

Just 45 minutes or less of walking along a beautiful stream (1.2 miles) brings you to a series of eight or so gushing cascades which comes down from a glacial lake. From tranquil water to torrid whitewater is scene you are imagining. The snow usually clears sometime in July.

There are two trailheads you can use to access McCullough Gulch. The newer, lower access parking lot is located about 7 miles south of Breckenridge, on the right side of highway 9 opposite the Skier’s Edge lodge. From here you can access a beautiful woods trail, turning into the old road that leads up into McCullough Gulch following the rock-strewn stream. Starting here makes the hike about twice as long, being that it starts 1.5 miles down the mountain from the upper access.

Another access is to park at the end of County Road 851, and you can access the McCullough Gulch falls with just a 1.3 mile hike. Drive south out of Breckenridge, a couple switchbacks up Hoosier Pass (7.9 mi), and take a right on Blue Lakes Road (CR 850), and another right on CR 851. This hike is pretty high in elevation, starting at about 11,000 feet.

Hike 2a: Mohawk Lakes – Continental Falls:
Continental Falls, from one of the switchback off shoot trails.

Spruce Creek Trail is one of the most popular hiking spots in the Breckenridge area. Just south of town about 2.4 miles, opposite the Goose Pasture Tarn, take a right on Spruce Creek Road (CR800). Follow signs to the main trailhead parking lot, where low- clearance vehicles must park. You can opt for the rough 4wd road and continue another 1.5 miles to park closer.

From the lower parking lot, the hike to Upper Mohawk Lake (6.7 mi round-trip) is usually rated as moderate, but some might find it pretty strenuous at the steep points. Before climbing the steep switchbacks beside Continental Falls, however, there’s beautiful Mayflower Lakes with its quaint set of cabins and a view of the falls. It’s a good spot to rest before the push to the lakes. Continental Falls is the largest waterfall around Breckenridge, tumbling through three chasms in its deeply eroded gully down the rocky face. On several switchbacks, small side trails lead to the edge of the falls for not-to-miss views of the white water and cliff faces.

Hike 2b: Mohawk Lakes – Between the Lakes
Once you crest the hill and see Lower Mohawk Lake at eye level, you’ll realize it was worth the uphill hike. Walk around the lake to its other end and find a trail ascending the rock, following the water to the upper lake, the true Mohawk Lake. Spruce Creek churns into a skinny whitewater cascade as it hurls down over the rocks from the upper lake.

Hike 3: Blue Lakes – Monte Cristo Gulch
From Blue Lakes Road (CR850) you can continue straight instead of turning right into McCullough Gulch, and access Monte Cristo Creek. Upper Blue Lake is a reservoir water source for Aurora and Colorado Springs, and the gulch is spectacular. There’s more hiking above the upper lake too.

Keep your eye out for a small waterfall visible from the road as you drive up through Monte Cristo Gulch. You can explore the Granite cliffs and wildflower meadows between the lakes after parking in the lot below the upper dam.


Waterfall Hikes Near Denver

Colorado has the perfect terrain for waterfall hikes: Over 100,000 miles of rivers and streams.. While most of the best waterfalls are buried deep in the mountains, there are still many to hike and explore near Denver.

Hanging Lake in Colorado

Hanging Lake is a short hike to two waterfalls and one of the most beautiful lakes in Colorado. On the same hike, you can explore Spouting Rock Falls, and even walk behind the waterfall. It’s not a day hike near Denver, but it’s definitely worth the nearly three-hour drive to the Hanging Lake Trailhead just outside of Glenwood Springs

Hike Distance: 2.4 miles Round Trip

Difficulty: Medium to Difficult

Duration: approx. 2hr Round Trip

Trail Type: Out & Back

Elevation Gain: +1096′, -160′

Seasons: All Year

Dogs: Dogs are Prohibited

Denver Drive Time: 2hrs 45min

Town Nearest Hike: Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Beauty: Waterfalls, Lake, Cascades, and Canyon

Activities: Falls Viewing Area, Hiking

Maxwell Falls Near Evergreen, Colorado

The Maxwell Falls hike is one of the most popular hikes near Denver. Why? Because it’s a great Colorado family hike with a different terrain, and it takes you to one of the closest waterfalls to Denver.

Hike Distance: 1.6 to 4 Miles

Denver Drive Time: 50

Difficulty: Medium

Duration: 45min to 2hr 30min+

Activities: Picnicking, Hiking Trails

Dogs: Allowed on Leash

Town Nearest Hike: Evergreen, Colorado

Trail Type: Out & Back and Loop

Seasons: Spring thru Fall

Beauty: Waterfall, Overlooks, Creek, Woodlands

Forsythe Canyon to Waterfall and Gross Reservoir

Here is a trail that will provide some shade on a hot Colorado day. This hiking trail has shade, plus a waterfall, a stream, a canyon, and lake. Forsythe Canyon is just outside Boulder, Colorado (1hr 15min from Denver), and is an easy to moderate hike.

Hike Distance: 2 Miles+ (RT)

Denver Drive Time: 1hr 15min

Difficulty: Easy

Duration: 2hr+

Activities: Hiking Trails

Dogs: Allowed on Leash

Trail Type: Out & Back

Seasons: Late Spring to Fall

Beauty: Waterfall, Wildflowers, Reservoir, Woodland Canyon

Town Nearest Hike: Boulder, Colorado

Boulder Falls

Boulder falls is a fast hike with a big reward. This 100 yard hiking trail just outside Boulder, Colorado leads you into a cliff lined notch in Boulder Canyon where the creek gushes out to form one of the best waterfalls near Denver

Hike Distance: 100 yards

Denver Drive Time: 50min

Difficulty: Easy

Duration: 10min

Activities: Short Trail

Dogs: Allowed on Leash

Town Nearest Hike: Boulder, Colorado

Trail Type: Out & Back

Seasons: Closed from Nov. 1 to May 1

Beauty: Waterfall, Boulder Creek, Cliff.

Elk Falls – New Waterfall near Denver

Elk Falls in Colorado’s new Staunton State Park opened to the public in 2013. This highest waterfall near Denver had been unknown to most, and inaccessible, except to a few. Now it’s an adventure waiting for able hikers!

Trail Info

Hike Distance: 10.8 Mile Round Trip

Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult

Duration: Approx 4-6 hr

Trail Type: Out & Back

Starting Elevation: Approx. 8200′

Elevation Gain: +900′

Seasons: All Year

Dogs: Allowed On Leash

Denver Drive Time: 45 min

Town Nearest Hike: Conifer, Colorado

Beauty: Waterfall, Rock Formations, Meadows, Pine Forest, Ponds, Hummingbirds, and Deer

Activities: Hiking, Photography, Mountain Biking (on many trails)

Fee: Entrance Fee or State Parks Pass Required

Buffalo Creek Falls at Wellington Lake

Hike Distance: .5 mile RT

Difficulty: Easy

Duration: approx. 30 minutes

Trail Type: Out and Back

Elevation Gain: Approx. 500′

Seasons: Year Round

Dogs: Allowed On Leash

Fee: $5 Day Use Fee per Vehicle + $5 per adult

Denver Drive Time: About 1hr 45min

Town Nearest Hike: Bailey, Colorado

Beauty: Waterfall, Lake, Castle Mountain, Osprey, Waterfowl

Activities: Hiking, Camping, Boating (non-motorized), fishing.

Eldorado Falls at Walker Ranch

Eldorado Falls is a cascade waterfall tucked back in Walker Ranch near Boulder, Colorado. It’s an easy to moderate 1.25 mile hike from the Ethel Harrold Trailhead down to where South Boulder Creek winds through the park and crashes over the boulders blocking its path.

Hike Distance: 2.5 mile Round Trip

Difficulty: Moderate

Duration: approx. 1.5 hr Round Trip

Trail Type: Out and Back

Starting Elevation: approx. 7000′

Elevation Gain: approx. -500′ to Falls, +500 back to Trailhead

Seasons: Spring-Fall

Dogs: Allowed On Leash

Denver Drive Time: 60 min

Town nearest Hike: Boulder, Colorado

Beauty: Boulder Creek, Cascade Waterfall, Wildlife: Birds, Elk.

Activities: Hiking, picnic facilities, mountain biking, horseback riding

Alberta Falls Hike at Rocky Mountain National Park

Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park is full of waterfalls and this hike takes you to one of the most accessible waterfalls in the park. Alberta Falls is one of the most popular, short destination hikes in the park, and for good reason.

Hike Distance: 1.6 miles (RT)

Denver Drive Time: 2hrs

Difficulty: Medium

Duration: 1hr

Activities: Picnicking, Hiking Trails, Snowshoeing

Dogs: Prohibited in the Park

Town Nearest Hike: Estes Park, Colorado

Trail Type: Out & Back

Seasons: Spring thru Fall

Beauty: Sub-Alpine Lake, Mountain Views, Wildlife: Abert’s Squirrel, Elk, Bear

Fee: Park Pass Required

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