Lower Cascade Falls

The Essence: Tucked deep in the canyons of the San Juan National Forest is a beautifully hidden 15 foot waterfall at the end of the Cascade Creek Trail. This hike down can be done year-round depending on hiking expertise. In the summertime, an array of beautiful native wildflowers surrounds you as you descend down into the roaring canyon. Or in the winter, snowshoe down into the blissful, (sometimes) untracked path along the slow trickling stream. Also in the winter, you're likely to encounter ice climbers and caves but, be mindful the path can not only be slick but hidden at times!


Getting There: From Durango drive north 28 miles on U.S. 550 until you pass Purgatory Resort and Cascade Village. After passing Cascade Village, you will make an immediate hairpin turn over Cascade Creek at which, you will make a right turn into a dirt parking lot. Park here and begin to walk east along the dirt road, past the emergency cabin, and red-colored cattle guard.


The Route: On your right after the cattle guard and before the large road access informational sign, a trail head should begin traversing you down into the canyon. After a half a mile hike down, make your first left by some trees and begin hiking along the side of the canyon path. If you look up and closely you will find metal spikes (pitons) nailed into the rock which help climbers traverse safely across the surface. Follow the sound of the roaring waters along the path for a little over a mile until you reach the destination. 


Comments: This is considered an easy hike in the summertime but can be considered moderately difficult in the winter, due to the slick and uncertain trail conditions. In the winter, the parking lot is icy and not plowed so it is recommended to have a car with all wheel drive.