2 miles roundtrip Elevation:
Starts at 8,980 feet Location:
Snow Mountain Ranch near Granby (see directions below) Dogs:
Allowed on leashFee:
$5 daily membership fee, includes access to the hiking trails, mini golf, and the indoor gym with rollerskating, basketball, volleyball and a pool. Friends on the hike:
Joan and Bill
Many of my friends and readers have asked for more hikes that are family friendly. This is a good hike for families. The day we hiked, we were the only group without children on the trail.
Snow Mountain Ranch has 25+ miles of hiking trails. I was staying at Granby Ranch when my friend Joan asked me to meet her here for a hike. While Snow Mountain Ranch is know as a place for conferences, it's also open to individuals to stay the night or play for a day. We stopped at the program building for a trail map. A worker recommended the Waterfall Trail. Well, that's perfect for me, since I love waterfalls.
It's 2.2 miles from the building to the Waterfall trailhead. Most of the road is dirt, but should be passable with a passenger car. We parked on the left side of the road in a marked area. The trailhead is on the right side of the road.
From the beginning of this hike, the trail follows a stream. I really like trails that follow the water; I enjoy listening to the sound of water on rocks. My boyfriend likes to adventure off-trail when he hears a loud gushing noise. Sometimes he finds waterfalls off the beaten path, but not in this case. A good trail for kids, even though some may sleep
After the first split, the trail got a bit more steep. While it may seem intimidating, Gay Albers of Craig, Colo., told us her son brought a toy stroller on the hike and pushed it all but a 1/4 mile or so himself. Most of the parents we saw had their smallest children in packs on their backs. The Albers-Roberts kids, ages 5 and 6, seemed very energetic even when we saw them at the end of the trail.
There's an extra treat for the kids -- a couple water crossings. The kids get to walk across log bridges. If they're young, it's probably best to make them cross with a parent so they don't fall off and end up wet.
At the 1-mile mark, there was a trail split again. To the left was a steep gain and a sign that said "waterfall loop." To the right was a group of people. We looked around them and figured out why they were all together, the waterfall was behind them.
We decided to head straight for the falls. It's about 20 feet high and was gushing on the day we visited in late June. I stepped on a log for a better picture and slid into the water. Fortunately, I only got a wet shoe, but boy was it cold. Be careful with the kids; maybe let them put a finger or hand in the water, but not much more. The rocks and logs here are very slippery.
The families we saw at the waterfall climbed to the top. There's a very steep trail on the right side of the falls. Actually, there are two trails on the right side of the falls. One is blocked off for revegetation. The other, right next to the falls, seemed open. That's where we saw everyone climbing up.
We figured if the kids could climb, so could we. It only took a few steps to get to the top, but it was steep enough that you wanted your hands free to hold on to tree branches, etc. If you take children up, you may want to take them one at a time so you can make sure they don't slide down.
At the top, you can look over the falls and see the little cascade above the falls. We actually crossed the stream on some solid boulders and found the waterfall loop trail. This is a good way back.
The waterfall loop trail takes you back past the big waterfall you just climbed. If you look carefully, you may find a spot to take a picture of the waterfall through the trees. You can hike back down to the trail you came from or you can continue on the loop.
The trailhead sign said the loop trail was 3 miles roundtrip. My GPS disagreed. It said 2.3 miles when we returned to the car and we had done some extra exploring in the area off-trail.
The loop trail takes you back through a forest on the other side of the stream. This is a good way back, especially in the middle of the day. Much of the trail is in the trees, so it is a pretty trail and a little cooler than the main trail. The loop portion of the Waterfall trail
After a stream crossing, we were back on the main trail and back to our car.
Families can call it a day at this point or pick one of the many other trails on the ranch property.
Because this trail follows a stream, make sure you have bug spray for the kids. We saw quite a few mosquitoes even in the middle of the day.
If you have a hike your family enjoys, I'd love to hear about it. Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
. I'd also like to hear from you if you have questions or comments about this hike or any of my others.
From Denver take I-70 to the Winter Park/U.S. 40 cutoff. Drive over Berthoud Pass, through Winter Park, through Fraser, to Tabernash. From Tabernash, it's about 4 miles to the entrance at Snow Mountain Ranch. Then it's 1.1 miles to the program building and registration building. You can pay your $5 fee there and the workers will give you directions/maps to the waterfall trail.
Previous hiking reports:(lower elevation hikes have a star)
, Mallory Cave*
, Marshall Mesa
,Heil Valley Ranch*
, South Boulder Peak*
, The Boulder Flatirons*
, Walker Ranch*
, Bear Peak*
, Rabbit Mountain*
, Bald Mountain*
, Betasso Preserve*
, Wonderland Lake*
, Chimney Gulch*
, Apex Park*
, Elk Meadow*
, Chicago Lakes
, Chief Mountain
Rocky Mountain National Park:
, 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
, Devil's Backbone*
, Lake Agnes
Summit & Eagle Counties:
, Missouri Lakes
, Mohawk Lakes & Continental Falls
St Louis Lake
, Granby Ranch
Exploring Fulford Cave
, Our Favorite Hikes
, Our Favorite Bike Rides
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