June 12, 2024
wonderful waterfall hikes near denver

10 wonderful waterfall hikes near Denver

We found the ten wonderful waterfall hikes near Denver, Golden, and Boulder, with something for every ability level. They lay down within half an hour of the city. Some are small, simple hikes, others require patience and planning. The city of Denver itself does not offer any waterfalls, so we will travel west to the foothills and the mountains in front to explore these gems.


wonderful waterfall hikes near denver
Photo from dayhikeneardenver

Hike Length: 10.8 miles

Difficulty: Moderate to difficult

Drive time from Denver: Near about 50 minutes

Dogs: Allowed on leash

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

Location: Staunton State Park

Elk Falls in Conifer is one of the nearest waterfalls to Denver, but that does not mean it is easy to reach because the hike itself is quite long and difficult. However, once you hike 12 miles, you will see why it is one of the best. For a long time, visitors were able to enjoy Elk Falls from a distance from just one viewpoint. However, the footpath system at Staunton State Park has expanded and now provides tourists with access to the falls like never before.

The waterfall is about 75 feet away from the cliff for an impressive view. The trail is about 12 miles apart, or about 11 miles from where you can see them from a distance. It is barely moderate and attains a height of about 1500 feet. However, with time and planning, you ensure a memorable day on the trail.


hikes near denver
Photo from dayhikeneardenver

Hike Length: 2.5 miles round trip

Difficulty: Moderate

Drive time from Denver: 1 hour

Dogs: Allowed on leash

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

Location: Walker Ranch, Boulder

Located in the historic Walker Ranch, Eldorado Falls is the informal name for a waterfall in the Boulder area. The hike is about 1 ¼ mile and is moderate to easy in difficulty. There are many different ways to access the trail from various trailheads in the Walker Ranch Loop.

The easiest way to reach the waterfall is the Ethel Harold Trailhead. When the trail crosses the Walker Ranch Loop, you want to bear to the right, where the trail makes its way through the park down South Boulder Creek. The trail will take you straight to Eldorado Falls. Ignore the sign just before the Boulder Creek Bridge that says “Two Eldorado Canyon” as it goes to Eldorado Canyon State Park but not to Eldorado Falls. Be prepared for a return trip to be more difficult than getting there.

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Read more: 10 hardest hikes in the US


boulder falls
Photo from dayhikeneardenver

Hike Length: 100 yards

Difficulty: Easy

Drive time from Denver: 50 minutes

Dogs: Allowed on leash

Activities: Short trail

Location: Boulder Canyon

If you’re looking for an easy waterfall hike close to Denver, Boulder Falls can fix the bill. The waterfall is located just 5 minutes from the trailhead and is reached by an easy and quick hike. Boulder Falls is about 70 feet long and tucked back into a picturesque valley for a stunning view.

A few years ago, falls were closed for repairs and restoration for some time, but in recent years the trail reopened with better trails, making for a more enjoyable trip. So, if you tried it in the past and were disappointed, it might be worth revisiting.


wonderful waterfall hikes near denver
Photo from dayhikeneardenver

Hike Length: 1/4 miles round trip

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Drive time from Denver: 50 minutes

Dogs: Allowed on leash

Activities: Rock climbing, hiking, picnic areas, birdwatching, wildlife viewing

Location: Castlewood Canyon State Park

Named Castlewood Canyon Falls or Cherry Creek Falls, this waterfall is possibly the most accessible waterfall near Denver.
This is a great hike for families as children can trek easily.

There are many other hiking routes in the park and you can easily walk long distances as you wish. There are beautiful views in every direction, beautiful wildflowers, interesting rock formations, and even an old dam that you can see. Castlewood Canyon is particularly good in the fall when the changing leaves are gorgeous and the temperatures are cool.


bridal veil falls
Photo from dayhikeneardenver

Hike Length: 1/4 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Drive time from Denver: 45 minutes

Dogs: Allowed in leash

Activities: Hiking, historic steam locomotive, and waterwheel

Location: Idaho Springs

Bridal Veil Falls is best observed from Water Wheel Park, a short and easy walk from the city of Idaho Springs, Colorado. Steam Locomotive and Gold Mining Heritage this is a historic hike in a historic Colorado city.

It is a tuck-away on the south side of Interstate-70 in the city of Idaho Springs. It is quite hidden from those bustling streets of the historic district. However, it is only a short walk from the city towards I-70, and you can reach a trail. It takes the opposite direction down the highway. There are two places to cross under I-70 (this one loop) and both take you across this amazing water wheel and waterfall.


hike near denver
Photo from dayhikeneardenver

Hike Length: 1.6 to 4 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Drive time from Denver: 50 minutes

Dogs: Allowed on leash

Activities: Picnicking, hiking trails

Location: Evergreen

Our most popular hike is the Maxwell Falls Hike near Denver. Why? Because it is an ideal Colorado family, spread across many types of terrain, and it takes you to one of the closest waterfalls in Denver.

It is best to come here in late spring and early summer when the sharp waterfall has the highest water flow. Many of the falls have routes ranging from 1.6 to 4 miles round trip. This hike is a very popular waterfall near Denver, so it is worth starting the day if you want to enjoy a hike in peace.

Hiking options for Maxwell Falls Trails

1 – The Cliff Trail Loop

2 – Lower Maxwell Falls Hike


forsyth canyon hike
Photo from dayhikeneardenver

Hike Length: 2 miles round trip

Difficulty: Easy

Drive time from Denver: 1 h 15 min

Dogs: Allowed on leash

Activities: Hiking Trails

Location: Boulder

Many people do not realize that there is a small waterfall located in Forsyth Canyon, between Boulder and the Netherlands. It is one of the lesser-known waterfalls around Denver. The waterfall here is not small and highly impressive, but the hike and surrounding scenery make it worth a visit. Like many other Colorado waterfalls, if you want to see the waterfall at its best, come in late spring and early summer. We added it to the list of waterfall hikes near Denver.

The trail is very pleasant, travels through a wooded valley, and ends at a beautiful blue lake, the gross reservoir. Most of the route is easy, and family-friendly. Once you reach the top of the falls, you’ll need to take a short scramble up and over the cliffs to get to the base of the falls. Leash dogs are allowed. Although it is not possible to swim or take off in the water, fishing is allowed in the stocked lake.


wonderful waterfall hikes near denver
Photo from dayhikeneardenver

Hike Length: 8 miles roundtrip

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Drive time from Denver: 1 h 45 min

Dogs: Allowed on leash

Activities: Hiking, Picnicking, Mountain Biking, Photography

Location: Colorado Springs

Helen Hunt Falls in Colorado Springs is a 35-foot waterfall that needs only a little walk from the parking area. For longer and more demanding hikes, visitors can take the 4-mile Columbine Trail from the base of Cheyenne Canyon to Helen Hunt Falls. This strenuous alternative and the rich ecosystem of this peak were experienced based on Pikes Peak.

Fall is most stunning when Cheyenne Canyon’s water content is at its peak in late spring to early summer or after a good rain. In winter, frozen falls have their beauty, but it is advised that the trails can be very slick and icy.


rainbow falls
Photo from dayhikeneardenver

Hike Length: 0.2 mile round trip

Difficulty: Easy

Drive time from Denver: 1 h 20 min

Dogs: Allowed on leash

Activities: Hiking, photography

Location: Manitou Springs just west Colorado Springs

Rainbow Fall hike is a short easy walking distance to the waterfall and the historic bridge. The waterfall is located in Manitou Springs, just west of Colorado. Waterfall and bridge were ignored for decades, but now the area is being restored by local government and local citizens.


alberta falls
Photo from dayhikeneardenver

Hike Length: 1.6 miles round trip

Difficulty: Medium

Drive time from Denver: 2 hours

Dogs: Prohibited in the park

Activities: Picnicking, Hiking Trails, Snowshoeing

Location: Rocky Mountain National Park

Colorado Rockies National Park has many waterfalls and this hike takes you to one of the most accessible waterfalls in the park. Alberta Falls Park is one of the most popular destinations for short walks. If you have time for one short hike on the east side of RMNP, this is a great option. This is the list of wonderful waterfall hikes near Denver.

To get to Alberta Falls, park at the Bear Lake Trailhead follow the signs south to Glacier Gorge and Alberta Falls.
Start early and cross the full 2.8-mile trail to the stunning Mills Lake inside the glacier gorge.

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