From lakes and meadows to wildflowers and mountaintop views, you don’t have to travel far to find great summer hikes along the Front Range. While waterfalls can be more of a trickle during July, there are still some excellent choices that are worth the trek. If chasing waterfalls is your thing, then don’t miss these ten great waterfall hikes that aren't too far from Denver:
Easy, 1.6 miles out and back
The short, relatively flat trail to Alberta Falls is a favorite in Rocky Mountain National Park. After driving along the scenic Bear Lake Road, hikers begin their journey at the popular Glacier Gorge Junction Trailhead. During peak season, you’ll likely need to ride the free shuttle to the area, and remember to book your timed entry to the park, too. But those who plan ahead will be rewarded with views of this thirty-foot waterfall.
Green Mountain Falls
Moderate, 6.4 miles out and back
Located near Woodland Park, the picturesque Catamount Falls Trail offers tons of outdoor activities — and, of course, beautiful waterfall views. On this hike, you’ll trek past three falls and into the “Garden of Eden” meadow, where you’ll find granite rock formations that are perfect for bouldering. At the end of the trail lies South Catamount Reservoir, a great place for fishing and one of the most peaceful places to paddleboard in Colorado.
The Broadmoor Seven Falls
Moderate, 3 miles out and back
With a height of 181 feet, Seven Falls ranks as the tallest waterfall near Denver. A private attraction associated with the five-star Broadmoor resort, Seven Falls is only open at select hours and comes with an admission price of $17 per adult. View the falls by climbing the 224-step staircase to Inspiration Point, or simply ride the elevator to the top of the Eagle’s Nest platform.
Easy, 0.8 miles out and back
Adams Falls is found along the East Inlet Trail, which leads deep into the wilderness of Rocky Mountain National Park. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a seasoned backpacker to enjoy this waterfall, a feature found less than a mile from the trailhead. Note that although it's far from the general park entrances, a parks pass is required and rules regarding timed entry and pets still apply. Arrive early to beat the crowds, and be sure to bring bug spray!
Difficult, 10.8 miles out and back
From the Lazy V parking lot, the base of Elk Falls is about four miles out, offering a variety of terrain along the way. Those willing to take on the additional elevation gain can push to the waterfall overlook, providing panoramic views of the beautiful Staunton State Park. If you’re a rock climber, don’t forget your gear on this hike. Chimney Rock, found along this trail, offers both trad and sport routes.
Bridal Veil Falls
Easy, 0.2 miles out and back
Bridal Veil Falls in Idaho Springs is another waterfall that requires just a short walk, and it's ideal for those with strollers and wheelchairs. From the parking lot at 17th and Walter streets, the paved path is less than a quarter of a mile, leading to the historic Charlie Taylor Waterwheel. After admiring the falls, leave your car parked and stop in at Westbound & Down, one of the best breweries to visit near hiking trails.
Moderate, 4.4 miles out and back
Like all Colorado waterfalls, Maxwell Falls is more impressive during early-summer snowmelt. But this shady Evergreen hike is enjoyable year-round. With an 830-foot elevation gain, it’s a favorite among families and those with dogs, offering a moderate challenge. If you’re feeling adventurous, extend the trip via the Cliffside Loop, where you’ll find some of the best views near Denver. Those seeking an easier experience can drop the round-trip distance to 2.4 miles by parking at the upper trailhead.
Easy, 0.3 miles out and back
Boulder Falls is more of a pull-off than a hike, but the 0.3-mile trail is a great addition to any afternoon itinerary. The drive down Boulder Canyon is stunning itself, though it can be quite busy on summer weekends. Parking for the falls is found across the street, so be careful crossing. To extend your time at Boulder Falls, enjoy a picnic and take lots of pictures — but if you’re itching to hike farther, head to the nearby Canyon Loop, one of the best wildflower trails near Denver.
Lower Wild Basin Falls
Moderate, 5.9 miles out and back
Along this segment of Wild Basin Trail, you’ll spot Copeland Falls, Calypso Cascades and Ouzel Falls. Located in a quieter region of Rocky Mountain National Park, the 5.9-mile trek makes for a great day hike, but it’s also one of Colorado’s best backpacking routes. Camp overnight to enjoy two can’t-miss attractions in one trip. Also found on the trail is Sandbeach Lake, one of Colorado's mountain beaches you won’t want to miss this summer season!
Forsythe Canyon Falls
Easy, 3.2 miles out and back
Found between Boulder and Nederland, Forsythe Canyon Falls is one of the least-visited waterfalls on this list. It may not be the most impressive, especially late in the season, but the surrounding area is well worth exploring. Similar to Catamount Falls, the trail ends at a large body of water, Gross Reservoir, a great spot for fishing, picnicking and paddle sports.