If you don't have a lot of time to drive deep into the mountains to see a waterfall, then how about hitting the most wonderful trails near Denver? While many of the waterfalls in Colorado involve challenging treks deep into the backcountry, there are many gorgeous waterfalls almost closer to the city.
We have rounded up the top four waterfalls nearest to Denver, Boulder, and Golden with something for each skill level. They generally lie within an hour and a half drive to the town.
You can enjoy a lot of picturesque views on the way to the falls, while some are compact and easy hikes, others involve patience and planning. The city of Denver itself rarely offers any kind of waterfall, so we will be moving to the west into the foothills and front range mountains to explore these amazing gems. As a reminder, wear suitable shoes with good traction around these wet waterfalls.
Maxwell Falls – Evergreen
Maxwell Falls is a popular day trip closer to the town of Evergreen from Denver. It is interesting to visit here during late spring and early summer while the tiered waterfall is giving its amazing water flow.There are some routes toward the falls that involve areas from 0.8 to 4 miles around the trip.
This hike is one of the most popular waterfalls in Denver, so if your purpose is to enjoy this hike in relative peace, then get yourself ready early in the day while getting the entire daylight to appreciate the beauty.
You can even bring your dogs on the trail but must be kept bound. Keep in mind, while the trail is most enjoyable, it's easy to take a wrong turn because many unmarked trails split off from the original, so always pay wary attention as you hike.
How to find Maxwell Falls
Reaching the trailhead of Maxwell Falls requires around 50 minutes of drive from Denver. There are a pair of trailheads, aptly named Upper and Lower Maxwell Falls Trailheads.
Both can be very easy to find taking the help of GPS navigation. You can start from anywhere, and the Upper trailhead usually gives the shortest hike about a 0.8-mile walk, one way, directly toward the falls.
The upper and lower trailheads together additionally give access to loop trails that add some length to your hike but will take you to the waterfall.
Castlewood Canyon Waterfall – Franktown
Photo by Matt Ried
Castlewood Canyon Waterfall can also be one of the best hike spots, as it takes a short time to reach and is a very easy hike down a flat trail. Dogs are allowed, but keep them leashed. It is also popular for family trips because kids can easily make the trip.
There are a number of hiking routes in the park, so you have a chance to easily connect some trails together to make your hiking as long as you would like. You will see here all the excellent views in every direction, a bunch of beautiful wildflowers, interesting rock arrangements, and even an old dam that can also be attempted for a hike. The hike particularly looks nice during the fall when the changing leaves are excellent as well as the atmosphere is cool.
How to get to Castlewood Canyon State Park
This excellent park is located in Franktown, Colorado, southeast of Denver, and takes about 50 minutes to reach. You will find it easily right next to Highway 83, which is known as S. Parker Road in the city. The entrance of the park closest to the waterfall is the West Entry along Highway 86. After parking at the Waterfall Parking Lot, you can move to the waterfall that is just a few feet away along the Creek Bottom Trails and Falls Spur.
Boulder Falls – Boulder
If you opt for an easy waterfall hike close to Denver, then Boulder Falls can be a great choice. You will find the waterfall to be gorgeous, located only 5 or so minutes from the trailhead and can reach quickly and easily by a hike. Boulder Falls is around 70 feet high and is also tucked back in a pictorial canyon, making for a fabulous look.
Since the falls are restored with improved trails in recent years to make the visit more enjoyable, it can be more delightful for newbies and can be worth revisiting for someone who made a visit in the past and was disappointed.
How to get to Boulder Falls
The trailhead to start your hikes lies about 50 minutes to the north of Denver and then a 5-minute quick trek. Once you are outside of Boulder, Canyon Blvd. Turn into Highway 119, and follow the indications for the Netherlands. You will find the falls easy with a beautiful look by an 11-mile drive out of town. Park at the small parking lot at your left hand and go for the trailhead across the street.
Bridal Veil Falls & Charlie Tayler Water Wheel – Idaho Springs
Photo by Jon Weitzel
This spot typically tucked away south of Interstate-70 in the city of Idaho Springs. It's likely hidden from those bustling roads of the well-known district. However, it is just a shorter walk south from downtown to I-70, and you will also reach into a paved trail.
It leads you to the opposite side at the bottom of the highway. Beneath the I-70 there are a couple of places to cross, which is a loop, take you through this nice water wheel and waterfall.
How to find Charlie Tayler Water Wheel
The Charlie Taylor Water Wheel takes about a 40-minute drive from Denver, requiring a manageable 10-minute hike. Go I-70 to the west from Denver to Idaho Springs. Take exit while 240 to Idaho Springs.
You will find there a big parking area behind the historic district, sandwiched right between I-70 and downtown. You can park there and explore the paved trail that reaches you under I-70, and you will never want to miss the nicest waterfall on this short loop.