About Cascade Falls (Lower Cascade Falls)
Cascade Falls was said to be the last in a series of seven waterfalls on Cascade Creek near the town of Ouray.
Of these waterfalls, I only know of two of these waterfalls that were accessible and named.
For this reason, they sometimes refer to the waterfall you see pictured above as the Lower Cascade Falls.
It was said to drop over 200ft in a dramatic plunge that was already visible from the trailhead (see directions below).
Apparently, it was even possible to see this waterfall from other parts of the town of Ouray since the falls was in a pretty wide open part of Ouray’s southwest-facing cliffs and slopes.
During our visit in late April 2017, there was still quite a bit of snow in the higher elevations so I’d imagine that we saw the falls before its peak flow.
I’d imagine that its snowmelt would most likely max out in late May or early June.
Nevertheless, this was certainly one of the more impressive waterfalls that we had seen on our Desert Southwest Spring Break trip.
Moreover, its easy accessibility meant that Julie and Tahia could enjoy it without worrying too much about altitude sickness nor trail hazards.
Hiking up to Cascade Falls
The well-signed trail began next to some concrete flume that was built to funnel Cascade Creek and possible flash flood debris (e.g. boulders and uprooted trees) quickly away from the steep canyon.
The trail was a little on the rocky side and pretty much moderately uphill, but it was very wide and easily walkable.
Less than five minutes up the trail, we encountered a sheltered viewing area providing a nice framed view of the Lower Cascade Falls between trees and backed by nearly vertical cliffs.
The Perimeter Trail continued going uphill to the right, while another trail continued across the bridge to the left.
We continued on the trail that crossed the bridge, where we went past another junction just on the other side.
Then, we proceeded further uphill until we arrived at the steep and rocky base of the Lower Cascade Falls.
From this far up close to the falls, it looked smaller than it did back at the viewpoint.
I’d attribute that to the uppermost tiers of the falls being hidden by the forced perspective of the brink of the falls and the neighboring cliffs above concealing those uppermost parts of the falls.
There was also some squarish hole in the cliffs that appeared to be an old mine shaft or something.
We didn’t scramble any closer for a deeper look (it was on the other side of Cascade Creek).
However, from what we could tell, the hole didn’t go very far anyways as we thought we saw its end even from our vantage point.
Anyways, when we had our fill of the Lower Cascade Falls, we got back to the parked car after spending barely less than 45 minutes away from it.
According to my GPS logs, the overall hiking distance was about a quarter-mile round trip.
Seeing Cascade Falls from the Ouray Overlook
One thing we learned when we made a stop for the Ouray Overlook was that Cascade Falls was also visible from this higher vantage point.
Not only did we get a regal view of the town as well as the context of Box Canyon, but we also got to see part of Cascade Falls dropping above the east side of town.
We managed to get this view on a return visit in late July 2020, which indicated to us that the waterfall did have some staying power even though its volume was diminished compared to our late April 2017 visit.
Cascade Falls resides in the town of Ouray in San Miguel County, Colorado. It is administered by the town of Ouray. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.
Cascade Falls was in the town of Ouray.
Once we got to the town, we continued along Hwy 550 (Main Street) before heading east on 8th Ave.
The pavement ended on 8th Ave and we had to drive uphill on the fairly steep road (it may require using lower gear) leading up a quarter-mile to Cascade Falls Park.
For context, Ouray was about 50 miles (a little over an hour’s drive) northeast of Telluride (though it was far less distance as the crow flies). Ouray was also 71 miles (under 2 hours drive) north of Durango, 97 miles (about 2 hours drive) southeast of Grand Junction, 301 miles (under 6 hours drive) southwest of Denver, 150 miles (about 3 hours drive) east of Moab, Utah, and 286 miles (over 5 hours drive) northwest of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
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