Cow Creek Trail to Bridal Veil Falls

Nearest town: Estes Park
Distance from Denver: 72 mi / 1:40
Location: Rocky Mountain National Park
Distance hiked: 6.2 mi RT + many other trail options
Elevation: 7,855 ft
Direction notes: From Estes Park, head north on Wonderview Rd past the Safeway shopping area and the Stanley Hotel and turn right onto Devils Gulch Rd. A couple miles past the Gem Lake TH turnoff, veer left at McGraw Ranch. There is a digital sign indicating whether the parking area is full. The TH parking is 2 miles down a graded dirt road and fits about 18-20 vehicles. While it was full when I arrived, after waiting 5 minutes a spot cleared. See Trail Map.
Dogs: Not allowed.
Trailhead: Trail signage. Toilets are a few hundred yards up the trail just past the cabins at McGraw Ranch, a NPS research station.
Date hiked: July 14, 2013
Additional resource:
ProTrails.com – Bridal Veil Falls

Trail notes and photos:
This is a quick, easy trail to a nice waterfall with lots of options to lengthen your hike. The trail starts just outside Rocky Mountain National Park and is busy, but quieter than other RMNP trails. The forecasted heavy rain prevented me from doing the full 11 mile loop around Lumpy Ridge but I look forward to it in the future.

Rocky Mountain National Park - Cow Creek Trail to Bridal Veil Falls

The Cow Creek Trail is briefly an old two-track road

The trail is pretty mellow, starting off at the McGraw Ranch research station. The trail gradually climbs to the turnoff to the falls, but was gently rolling and quite easy until then.

Rocky Mountain National Park - Bridal Veil Falls Trail

Harebell along the Bridal Veil Falls trail

Rocky Mountain National Park - Cow Creek Trail

Blanketflower along the Cow Creek Trail

On this day the wildflowers were great and seemed to enjoy the rain storm. The area must have had rain in the previous days since the trail was a full puddle in a few areas and Cow Creek was running strong.

Rocky Mountain National Park - Bridal Veil Falls Trail

Rock steps along Bridal Veil Falls Trail

After 2.0 mi, head right on the Bridal Veil Falls trail. It’s just 1.0 mi to the falls, starting with a little more of a climb until the trail tucks into the forest along the river. The trail crosses the creek three times on basic bridges and soon you’re climbing rock steps up to the falls.

Rocky Mountain National Park - Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls

The falls are about 30 feet high at the top. Along the trail are also spots to see the creek running flat along sloped rock and what looked like a great pool to dip in on a warmer day.

Rocky Mountain National Park - Bridal Veil Falls Trail

Pool in the creek below Bridal Veil Falls

Heading back down the trail, the views of Lumpy Ridge were covered with clouds and fog but the damp meadows were bright and green.

Rocky Mountain National Park - Bridal Veil Falls Trail

Heading back down the Bridal Veil Falls Trail

Rocky Mountain National Park - Cow Creek Trail to Bridal Veil Falls

Foggy lumpiness on Lumpy Ridge via the Cow Creek Trail

The map posted at the trailhead shows the other trail options in the area.

Rocky Mountain National Park - Cow Creek Trailhead

Map at trailhead showing other trail options (see my post on Gem Lake)

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