Some of the best hiking spots exist in Colorado, but the Western Slope offers some incredible waterfall hikes that you won’t want to miss. If you’re looking to get some exercise and enjoy the gorgeous spring weather we’re having, here are a few honorable mentions that offer breathtaking views.
Bridal Veil Falls in Telluride is an obvious choice because it is the longest free-falling waterfall in Colorado. A four-wheel drive vehicle can take you up to the bottom of the falls, but to get to the top of the falls, it requires a moderate gravel trail hike. The elevation here is over 8,700 feet above the town, so you’ll want to be prepared with plenty of water and take it slow if you aren’t acclimated to the altitude. Summers on the road to the falls can be a bit busy as this is a very popular road over Black Bear Pass to Highway 550.
And speaking of Black Bear Pass, on the south side of this challenging road are several waterfalls. Hike alongside each of the falls for a misty climb and enjoy the views from the top. Here again, the elevation is over 11,000 feet, so plan for water breaks. Wildflowers abound in this alpine valley, and patches of snow can be seen most of the spring. The road exits in between Ouray and Silverton, so take your pick of hot springs to the north or train rides through the mountains to the south after a refreshing hike.
If you choose the northern route to Ouray, you can extend your hiking tour to include the Box Canyon Falls on the outskirts of the town. Although there is a small fee for each person, the short hike along steep stairs and steel bridges is one you won’t want to miss. It can be pretty chilly in the shady canyon, so a light jacket is a good idea to take with you. Another family-friendly hike is along the Ouray Perimeter Trail up to the Baby Bathtubs where there are multiple mini pools with small waterfalls from one pool to the next. Bring your furry friends with you on leashes and dip your toes to cool off.
It would be remiss not to mention the Hanging Lake Falls as a Western Slope waterfall hike. Near Glenwood Springs, you will need a permit for this hike, but the experience is worth the small fee. Just past the Hanging Lake turquoise waters, you’ll want to hike the extra short distance to the falls to feel the frigid mist on your skin. This is a more challenging hike that is steep and rocky, but there are lots of places to stop along the way and take pictures of the beautiful scenery.
There are so many more waterfalls on the Western Slope, it feels like we’ve barely scratched the surface on all there is to offer the avid hiker. You can’t go wrong on any of the watery hikes that are within an hour or two from Montrose. Don’t forget your camera as these waterfalls provide the perfect backdrop for those family pictures or postcards to friends. Remember to pack out what you pack in to keep our Colorado trails beautiful!
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