As a Colorado resident and avid hiker, I’m constantly amazed by the diversity of terrain and sheer beauty this state has to offer. And some of my favorite sights are the countless waterfalls tucked away in the Rocky Mountains and forests waiting to be discovered on foot.

The melodic sounds of cascading water, mesmerizing views, and lush surroundings on these trails make hiking to waterfalls an unforgettable experience. In this guide, I’ll share my picks for the 10 best waterfall hikes in Colorado that should be on any nature lover’s bucket list.

Whether you’re up for an invigorating full-day trek or a short stroll to scenic falls, I’ll highlight trails of varying difficulty. You’ll find thundering cascades deep in the backcountry and also hidden gems just steps off the road. So get ready to chase waterfalls on these breathtaking Colorado hiking trails!

1. Sky Pond Trail – Rocky Mountain National Park

Sky Pond Trail

Location: Rocky Mountain NP, near Estes Park, CO

Difficulty: Difficult

Distance: 9 miles roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 1,910 feet

Highlights: Series of alpine lakes and waterfalls culminating in dramatic Sky Pond

One of Rocky Mountain National Park’s most iconic hikes, Sky Pond lives up to its heavenly name. The waterfall payoff comes after a steep climb past scenic Timber Lake and Lake of Glass. A sheer cliff waterfall feeds Glass Lake, but keep ascending and you’ll be rewarded by the spectacular view of Sky Pond. This aquamarine jewel sits at the base of jagged granite cliffs and water-carved rock formations. A thinly veiled waterfall cascades right into the pond on your final approach. The stunning sights on this demanding but unforgettable hike are some of the best in the Rockies.

2. Bridal Veil Falls – Telluride

bridal veil falls colorado

Location: Telluride, CO

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 0.5 miles roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 40 feet

Highlights: Easily accessible waterfall right in town

One of Colorado’s most photographed waterfalls is also its most convenient to visit. Hiking less than half a mile from downtown Telluride leads you to the charming 120-foot cascade of Bridal Veil Falls. A steep zigzagging trail takes you to an overlook just across from the falls for optimal viewing and photos. Feel the refreshing spray against your skin as you admire the thin wispy waterfall against colorful canyon walls. The short walk to Bridal Veil is perfect for families and rewarding even if you only have an hour to spend in Telluride.

3. Saint Mary’s Falls – Colorado Springs

Location: Colorado Springs, CO

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 0.6 miles roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 75 feet

Highlights: Secluded canyon waterfall minutes from downtown

Tucked away right off the streets of downtown Colorado Springs lies Saint Mary’s Falls, an unexpected oasis in the city. The paved path leads along a calm creek shaded by mature trees to reach the granite walls of the falls. Scramble up large boulders to experience the cooling mist right next to the 20-foot cascade. Peaceful pools below invite wading on hot days. For an easy getaway with the feel of a remote canyon minus the long drive, check out Saint Mary’s Falls hidden within the city.

4. Seven Falls – Colorado Springs

Seven Falls - Colorado Springs

Location: Colorado Springs, CO

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 0.3 miles roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 70 feet

Highlights: Elegant tiered 224-foot waterfall with canyon views

At the entrance to South Cheyenne Canyon lie the impressive Seven Falls, the towering waterfall that gives this popular hiking area its name. An accessible boardwalk and stairway let you take in views of the 181-foot falls that cascade down a granite amphitheater in multiple-tiered drops. The waterfall viewpoint has interpretive signs detailing the falls’ formation and history. Continue upstream to reach more secluded fall views immersed in the canyon surroundings of Seven Falls Recreation Area.

5. Mohawk Lakes Trail – Breckenridge

Location: Breckenridge, CO

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 5.5 miles roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 1,400 feet

Highlights: Waterfalls, wildflowers, and alpine lakes with Continental Divide views

One of Summit County’s finest hikes, Mohawk Lakes Trail dazzles with wildflowers, waterfalls, and panoramic views from start to finish. After trekking through aspen groves, small cascades appear. The Lower Mohawk Lake makes an idyllic stop, followed by the larger Upper Lake ringed by 13,000-foot peaks. The climb to the Upper Lake brings you up close to steep talus fall waterfalls. With outstanding beauty throughout the entire hike, Mohawk Lakes Trail is a Breckenridge classic perfect for moderate hikers and families.

6. Fish Creek Falls – Steamboat Springs

Fish Creek Falls

Location: Routt National Forest, south of Steamboat Springs, CO

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 0.6 miles roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 280 feet

Highlights: Massive main falls with pristine pools and creekside trails

Fish Creek Falls near Steamboat deserves its reputation as one of Colorado’s most spectacular waterfalls accessible by an easy walk. The overlook takes you right to the brink of the mammoth 280-foot falls, where continental drift forces Fish Creek into a deep gorge. Below, a series of pools and smaller falls create an idyllic scene. Extended creekside trails lead down to the cooler valley, where numerous picnic spots with waterfall views invite lingering. The panoramas approaching Fish Creek Falls match the power and beauty of the main event.

7. Bridal Veil Falls Trail – Ouray

Location: Ouray, CO

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 0.5 miles roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 550 feet

Highlights: Incredible views of falls cascading into a box canyon

Bridal Veil Falls towers 365 feet over the town of Ouray, and cascade directly into the narrow box canyon below. A steep paved trail takes you to dizzying views looking down on the falls right from the canyon rim. Admire the striking contrast between the wispy thin falls and jagged cliffs edges of the Amphitheatre. For the best photos, continue further up the canyon on a separate dirt trail. Here you’ll see the water sliding down smooth faces and catching glacier-blue pools. Don’t miss this moderate hike for a new perspective on powerful Ouray Falls.

8. Hanging Lake Trail – Glenwood Canyon

Hanging Lake Trail

Location: Glenwood Canyon, CO

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 3 miles roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet

Highlights: World-famous blue-green lake fed by travertine falls

Possibly Colorado’s most famous hike, Hanging Lake rewards exertion on the steep trail with one of the state’s most surreal landscapes. After a rigorous climb, the ethereal Hanging Lake comes into view, its crystal waters contrasting starkly with the rocky canyon. Spouting from the lake edge, ribbon-like Bridal Veil Falls trickle over travertine terraces thick with calcium carbonate deposits. The vibrant turquoise waters defy imagination. Swiftly flowing Dead Horse Creek and blooming cliffside gardens enhance the scenery on the descent. The trek is on the harder side, but worth every step to soak in Hanging Lake’s beauty.

9. North Clear Creek Falls – Black Hawk

Location: Golden, CO

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 0.6 miles roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 50 feet

Highlights: Easily accessed multi-drop falls in scenic Creek Canyon

Though just minutes from bustling Black Hawk casinos, North Clear Creek Falls transports you straight into nature. A shortcut from the parking lot drops you at the brink of the first 50-foot cascade. From here, it’s an easy stroll upstream along the lush creek to view over a half dozen separate falls cascading down the narrow granite canyon. The tiers of tumbling water before the creek hits the valley are equally as impressive as the main drop. Photographing the falls reflecting in their crystal clear pools never gets old on this quick and convenient nature escape.

10. Herman Gulch Trail – Georgetown

Herman Gulch Trail

Location: Arapaho National Forest, near Georgetown, CO

Difficulty: Hard

Distance: 8.4 miles roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 2,500 feet

Highlights: Epic alpine views and waterfalls after steep forest trek

Saving the best for last, Herman Gulch Trail culminates in one of Colorado’s most impressive waterfall settings. The trail starts mellow through the pine forest along Herman Creek, getting steeper as you climb towards the treeline. Once above the pines, the hike traverses gorgeous alpine meadows to Upper Herman Lake. This subalpine bowl filled by a waterfall brewing snowmelt and surrounded by soaring 13,000-foot peaks makes a picture-perfect destination. For bonus views, tackle the final climb to Herman Lake Overlook. This demanding trail is ideal for very fit hikers up for an iconic Rocky Mountain waterfall reward.

Tips for Hiking to Waterfalls

After enjoying my share of stunning Colorado waterfall hikes, I’ve gathered a few useful tips to make your adventures safe and successful:

  • Check conditions – Know snowpack can extend seasonal waterfall peak flows. Carry traction gear early/late season.
  • Watch footing – Rocks around waterfalls are slippery! Wear sturdy hiking shoes with grip and tread carefully.
  • Respect barriers – Never climb beyond permitted waterfall view areas or cross safety fences.
  • Pack layers – Temperatures drop faster in spray-soaked waterfall zones. Bring a jacket.
  • Watch from a distance – Don’t approach the base of waterfalls, stay back from the edge for stability.
  • Leash pets – Dogs and waterfall terrain don’t mix. Keep them restrained.
  • Guard electronics – Water and cliffs pose risks for phones and cameras. Protect in dry bags.

Taking basic precautions will allow you to safely enjoy the wonder of experiencing Colorado’s magical waterfalls on foot. Now get out there and start checking spectacular cascades off your bucket list!


"Hello, I'm Alexandra, a seasoned hiker with over a decade of experience exploring the great outdoors. My love for hiking was sparked on the Appalachian Trail, and since then, I've embarked on numerous hiking adventures, from dense forests to towering peaks. I'm dedicated to sharing my knowledge and expertise through to help hikers of all levels make the most of their outdoor experiences."