Distance: 8.75 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: about 1,800 feet (with waterfall climb)
Location: Rocky Mountain National Park
Trailhead: Allenspark Trailhead (directions below)
Dogs: No dogs allowed in the park
Entrance Fee: None from this trailhead
A wet spring and summer has kept two beautiful waterfalls in Rocky Mountain National Park gushing this year. There are two ways to get to Calypso Cascades and Ouzel Falls. The trail from the Wild Basin Trailhead in the park is easier and shorter, but the trail from Allenspark is free.
Allenspark is about 30 miles south of Estes Park on Highway 7. While there is no entry fee at the trailhead, as soon as you start walking on the trail, there is a sign saying "Entering Rocky Mountain National Park."
The trail starts in a beautiful, thick forest. Expect some moderate sections of elevation gains including some stairs and on this trail. In the first 1.8 miles, hikers gain about 650 feet in elevation as they pass two trail splits. The first split is for the Wild Basin Ranger Station. The next split is for Finch and Pear Lakes. Don't take either turn, continue towards Calypso Cascades.
After the Finch/Pear Lake split, the trail starts losing elevation. There are remarkable views here of the nearby peaks. Hikers will also notice the remnants of a large fire. The Ouzel Fire in 1978 was started by lightning. The fire burned about 1,000 acres.
Listen as you hike. You'll occasionally be treated to the sound of crashing water over rocks in the valley below. When you start hearing the loudest waterfall, you'll likely be at about the 3 mile mark. At 3.1 miles, you'll arrive at Calypso Cascades.
Calypso Cascades is a 100-foot high cascade of water over rocks and downed trees. Thanks to the construction of a log bridge, hikers can stand in the middle of the cascade and enjoy the full view of the power of Cony Creek here. The cascades are surrounded by a forest adding even more beauty to the photos.
Take some time for pictures. Maybe even find a rock to sit on while you enjoy a snack before the next part of this hike.
While Calypso Cascades is beautiful, Ouzel Falls still awaits. Hikers gain another 300 feet over the next 0.9 of a mile to the bridge at Ouzel Falls. (Don't miss the privy sign if you need a bathroom break just before the falls).
At the Ouzel Falls bridge, take a photo or two, then look carefully to your left for a faint trail that leads hikers to the front of the falls and even a better view! The trail is rocky, sometimes muddy and involves climbing over some downed trees. It's all worth it to stand in front of Ouzel Falls. Stand in the right place and you may even get a misty shower depending on which way the wind is blowing.
Ouzel Falls drop more than 40 feet through a cut in a dark rock wall. The water sprays into a pool, then cuts a path down to the main hiking trail and beyond. This is definately the place to take lots of pictures from different angles. Consider climbing on the rock in front of the falls for a photo. Climb a rock to your right to get a view of the falls and the small cascade below it.
After lots of photos, take a break and enjoy lunch here. Enjoy the spray of the falls and the crashing sound of the water dropping over the cliff and hitting the rocks below.
As you take a break, you may see someone on the top of the falls. Yes, you can hike up there. As you face the front of the falls, turn around and look at the big downed log behind you. You may have enjoyed lunch on that log. There is a faint trail just on the other side of that log that heads around and up the rocks.
Once on top, hike back toward the drop for a view of the falls and a nice cascade just before the drop. This will add about a .25 mile to your hike each way, but it's worth the extra adventure. One note, while we had trouble following the trail on the way up, it was easy to follow on the way down. And don't let kids get too close to the edge.
After enjoying the falls, hikers return on the same trail back to the Allenspark Trailhead. Don't forget to save some energy because the trail back has a 500 foot climb between Calypso Cascade and the trail split to Finch/Pear Lakes.
If you have a favorite trail to share or a question about this hike, e-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Directions: From Denver/Boulder, take U.S. 36 to the town of Lyons, turn left on Highway 7. Watch the speed limit signs in Lyons. At the Y intersection in Lyons, turn left on Highway 7 toward Allens Park. About 18.5 miles turn left on Business Route 7/Allens Park. (Don't take the first Business Route 7 into Ferncliffe.) At 0.1 of a mile, turn right on County Road 90 (just before the post office). Travel 1.5 miles to a fork in the road. (There are several, but stay on the main road) At 1.5 miles, take the right fork, travel 0.1 of a mile to the trailhead on your right. There is a sign that says "Allenspark Trailhead."
Previous hiking reports:(lower elevation hikes have a star) Boulder: Heil Valley Ranch*, Hall Ranch*, Eldorado Canyon State Park*, Caribou Ranch*, Royal Arch*, South Boulder Peak*, The Boulder Flatirons*, Walker Ranch*, South Boulder Trailhead*, South Mesa Trail*, Mallory Cave*, Forsythe Canyon*, Bear Peak*, Rabbit Mountain*, Bald Mountain*, Betasso Preserve*, Wonderland Lake*, Marshall Mesa* Golden area: Forgotten Valley, Chimney Gulch*, Apex Park* Jefferson County: Mt. Falcon*, Elk Meadow* I-70 area: Herman Gulch, Chicago Lakes, Chief Mountain, Hells Hole Rocky Mountain National Park: Calypso Cascades & Ouzel Falls, Finch & Pear Lakes, Flattop Mountain, Gem Lake, Granite Falls, Twin Sisters, Bierstadt Lake, Chasm Lake, Lulu City & Little Yellowstone, The Loch & Andrew's Glacier, Sandbeach Lake Indian Peaks/James Peak Wilderness: King, Bob & Betty Lakes, Forest Lakes, Arapaho Lakes, Mitchell & Blue Lakes, James Peak Area, Heart Lake Northern Colorado: Homestead Meadows, Devil's Backbone*, Lake Agnes Summit & Eagle Counties: Booth Falls, Missouri Lakes, Mohawk Lakes & Continental Falls, South Willow Falls Grand County: St Louis Lake, Waterfall At Snow Mountain Ranch, Granby Ranch Other: Harmonica Arch, Exploring Fulford Cave, Our Favorite Hikes, Our Favorite Bike Rides