Upper and Lower Cascade Falls, A Comparison of Summer vs. Winter

Date hiked: 12/09/16

Mileage: 5 miles

Head Count (how many other hikers I saw): 0 groups


Click here for a more detailed description of the Cascade Falls trail.

Between raging snowmelt and a frozen curtain of icicles, the time of year you visit Cascade Falls makes a world of difference. I highly recommend making the trip during both the summer and winter, but neither season will disappoint.

Lower Cascade Falls:IMG_469912

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The bowl between Red Mountain #1 (left) and Red Mountain #2 (right).

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Hayden Mountain.

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A look at Hayden Mountain and the Yankee Boy road. Telluride sites just on the other side of this ridge.

Ouray from about 10,000 feet.2299-1

In the winter, this is where things start to get tricky. Once you wrap around the north side of the mountain towards Cascade Creek, the snowcover gets considerably higher, trapped by the shadows and the cold.715 (2).JPG

Be mindful of where you place your feet as you could too easily slip, especially on the snowdrifts. More than once, my snowshoe kicked the snow loose. If you loose your leverage, there isn’t much here to stop you from tumbling 500 feet into the gorge, only a single layer of pines, most of them too fragile to hold your weight.

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Upper Cascade Falls from the south:56 (2).JPG

Standing on Upper Cascade Falls, overlooking Whitehouse Mountain: 7-17-2

Upper Cascade Falls from the north:13-113 (2).JPG

Chief Ouray Mine (far right) and a Commanding view of the Sneffels Range.8 (2).JPG

The Amphitheater: 16.0 (2).JPG16 (2).jpg

The Chief Ouray Mine boarding house:11.2 (2).JPG11-2

The machinery house, early 1900s equipment still frozen in time inside:



Inside Chief Ouray Mine, looking out at Potosi Peak.


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(From Ouray):

To the upper trailhead: Head south out of Ouray on Highway 550 and turn left onto Amphitheater Campground Road at the second switchback. After .6 miles, park in the pullout on the left side of the road. After a heavy snowfall, if your car isn’t winter equipped, don’t attempt this road. You may be digging yourelf out.

1.7 miles; 5 min

To the lower trailhead: Follow Eight Avenue east until it ends at Cascade Falls Park. Again, you may not be able to get it up the hill after it snows. In this case, park on Main Street and hike the quarter mile in.

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