There’s just something about falling water. The movement. The mist. The sound. I love it—and so does my dog, Willow. In the summer, I try to incorporate water into my hiking regime, especially if I’m going out midday. Yes, you can go to Helen Hunt Falls and join the hordes of tourists for your waterfall fix—it’s beautiful, but there’s so much more out there! Here are a few worth exploring this summer.
Route: Trail #704b
Where to Find It: Between Divide and Cripple Creek
Distance: 2.6 miles round trip
Difficulty: Moderate, then Easy
Why You Should Go: This waterfall is all about timing. If you go too early in the spring, the snow and ice will make your hike, well, let’s just say interesting. If you wait until late summer, the water flow may be less than impressive.
The trail starts steep, but once the grade eases up, keep your eye out for an aspen meadow on your left that will knock your socks off! About a mile from the trailhead, you will reach an intersection. Take a left for the falls as the trail re-enters the forest. Another TK and you’re there.
This waterfall somehow drapes perfectly in the nook of a heart-shaped boulder. How romantic! If 2.6 miles isn’t enough, go back to the intersection and continue on to Pancake Rocks for a few more miles to admire the strange rock formations and sweeping views.
How to Get There: Take U.S. Highway 24 west to Divide. Turn left (south) toward Cripple Creek on State Highway 67. Go 9 miles to an old closed tunnel on the left after coming around an S-turn. The unmarked parking area sneaks up quickly on your left at 9.3 miles, on the far side of the closed tunnel. The signed trailhead is on the south end of the parking area.
Route: Catamount Trail
Where to Find It: Catamount Trail in Green Mountain Falls
Distance: 6 miles round trip
Why You Should Go: This trail is perfect for a hot summer afternoon. The north-facing slope offers shade, and the falling water brings life to this mountainside. Keep your eyes out for Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, Western Tanagers and butterflies galore. Since the slope is so vertical, the creek turns into an almost continuous cascading waterfall over some impressive boulders.
This trail tops out and the creek hushes in an area called the Garden of Eden, a gently sloping mountaintop meadow—and, yes, it’s heavenly. This is a great sunny spot to cool off by the creek before turning back down. Or keep going to the Catamount reservoirs.
If you go early, top off a perfect morning with a hearty breakfast at The Pantry in Green Mountain Falls.
How to Get There: Travel west on Highway 24 past Cascade until the road dips downhill. Take the first left onto Ute Pass Avenue into the town of Green Mountain Falls. Park on the west side of town alongside the creek next to the upholstery shop and the post office. Hike up the gravel Hondo Avenue to the Catamount Trailhead.
Seven Bridges Trail
Route: Trail #622
Where to find it: North Cheyenne Cañon Park
Distance: 2.3 miles from the Gold Camp parking lot to the Seventh Bridge
Why You Should Go: I love this trail. I notice something more beautiful every time I run it. No, you won’t find any 35 foot waterfalls here. The simple beauty is in the small pools and cascades you discover as you make your way over each bridge on this trail. Those with an eagle eye may even spot a rising trout in the willow shadows.
Most hikers turn around after the seventh bridge, but it’s worth going a little farther for an overview of the long cascade that shoots impressively over the rock in high water. You’ll find it where the trail climbs steeply above the creek into an exposed scree field before continuing toward the farther meadows of Jones Park.
How to Get There: Take North Cheyenne Cañon Road past Helen Hunt Falls until the road turns to gravel. Park in the large lot on your left. Head to the north end of the parking area to Start your hike on the north end of the lot; begin along the closed-to-vehicles Upper Gold Camp Road. Hike .7 miles up the gravel road until it crosses the creek and takes a hard switchback left. The trailhead is just past the creek on your right.