Chief Ouray Mine Trail is a 4.1 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Ouray, Colorado that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, birding, and horses and is best used from March until November. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

4.1 miles
2,303 feet
Out & Back

dog friendly



horseback riding

nature trips





wild flowers



Steep hike to beautiful secluded falls, overlook of Ouray, and famous mine Follow the trail located directly behind the sign and head uphill. The trail is well maintained and easy to follow. When you reach a T junction take a left. Remember this location so you don't miss this turn on your return trip. Continue along this trail as it heads into the Amphitheater. At the Y intersection veer left (uphill) and begin a tough set of switchbacks that will take you up the amphitheater wall. The trail will then traverse West, cross the ridge and traverse back East to the Falls. Carefully cross Cascade Creek. This crossing can be trick with high water or ice present. After the crossing follow the trail to the bunkhouse, go through the bunkhouse, and continue on the trail on the other side. The next building is the mine building, and if you descend a little and continue a short ways you will find the old mine shaft. Return the way you came.

2 months ago

Completed this hike on 10/6/18. Definitely a difficult, steep hike! We started at the upper cascade trail and completed the full hike in 3 hours (with plenty of stops for pictures and some time spend hanging out in the mine camp). Beautiful views of Ouray and surrounding mountains. I would highly recommend this trail if you’re looking for a great work out/shorter day hike.

3 months ago

Very steep up, but great views and mine site. 2:45 total tome for hike.

3 months ago

lot of climbing but waterfall and mining cabin worth the trip

3 months ago

Nice hike up with lots of switchbacks. Started at lower, then upper Cascades Falls and hiked to peak for a beautiful view onto Ouray and beyond. Did not continue to mine for time reasons, but enjoyable hike. 3 hour round trip.

4 months ago

Well worth the uphill hike!

5 months ago

Great hike! Don’t underestimate the vertical gain, but don’t let it stop you either. Well worth the effort!

6 months ago

Awesome hike, but if you only have one day in Ouray, the perimeter hike is the way to go. This one offers excellent views of "the amphitheater" but the steepness of it was a bit arduous and monotonous at times (as compared to the perimeter trail)

6 months ago

Not too hard of a trail. A bit steep on the switch backs but the view and waterfalls are worth it. 3ish hours round trip from the amphitheater campground.

6 months ago

Fairly steep trail, with lots of sun, so I recommend starting early. No views early on, but once you climb past the tree line everything opens up. We turned around at the waterfall in sight of the mine because the snow bridge covering the water didn't look particularly safe, but others had evidently been crossing it. Sticks are highly recommended, especially for going down -- very steep and sliding is a problem. No snow on the trail except at the waterfall.

7 months ago

Trailhead is open. Beautiful hike with stunning views! Make sure you bring trekking poles or a walking stick for the descent!

8 months ago

FYI trailhead is still closed. About a mile hike from the parking lot to the trailhead.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Great hike with fantastic views! Steep and narrow in some areas but easily navigable. A must do if in Ouray.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Awesome hike. It's definitely tough though. I hike on a regular basis and thought this one earned its rating. Uphill the entire time. However, the views of Ouray, Mt. Sneffels and the rest of the canyon are fantastic and continue to improve the higher you go. The cherry on top is the waterfall before you hit the mine at the end. Really enjoyed this one. Took about 3.5 hours for me. I started early afternoon and didn't see another hiker the entire time!

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Starting out in the amphitheater campground parking lot at 7am, I made my way up the steep climb and switchbacks. This was my first "big" hike since moving to Colorado and while it was a challenge, there never was a time it overcame me. I'm moderately athletic and the hike to the mineshaft past the bunkhouse and the mine house (including many picture and water stops) took roughly 2 hours. Much faster descent, but you definitely want to watch your footing and the trail at all times. The cave system (?) or mineshaft below the wide creek crossing with the waterfall right before the bunkhouse was worth the extra 10 minutes to explore, and there is a trail leading right to it if you look close enough. Really enjoyed this hike!

Note that the trail on this app seems to keep going after the actual mineshaft past the mine building. There is nothing past the mineshaft. No trail, nothing more. Don't keep going thinking you are missing something because you aren't, it is just mislabeled on this app

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The 2,000 ft. elevation gain and numerous switchbacks makes this a more strenuous hike for occasional hikers, but has some great views of Ouray and the surrounding scenery (Shout out to Sneffels who looks grand from just about anywhere but real shines on this route!). I hiked up from downtown Ouray and left around 7am so my walk up would be in the shade and solitudinous. I achieved both, and didn't encounter other hikers until around 10:30 when I was half way back down. Some parts of the switchbacks may seem a little narrow for novice hikers, just make sure your shoes/boots have decent traction and you'll be in good shape.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Switchbacks are tough on the way up, but so worth it for the incredible views of the mine, waterfall and of Ouray.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Great views of Ouray. If you're physically fit, it's pretty easy. If you're out of shape, but take your time, you can do ok. Nothing too crazy.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Great route, tough but well rewarded. We started from the campground and took 6 hours over it. The switchbacks are a grind and we did it in mid June so the creek was hard (and dangerous) to cross above the upper cascade. The mine sheds and equipment are in great condition and there is even an old working adit left accessible on the starting side of the creek (just below the path).

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Tough and scary in a good way!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Fun trail very steep had a 1 year old and a 4 year old tagging along. Some areas have no shade so be prepared for that

Friday, December 23, 2016

Great views once you hit the top. Went on a hot summer day and there are a few areas with NO tree coverage/shade so come prepared.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Outstanding but steep hike. Not for the faint of heart - I did get butterflies in a few spots. Gorgeous views all the way to the top. Stopped and made hot coffee with the jetboil just past the first building and simply enjoyed the wonderful view of Ouray and the mountains. Garmin logged 5.13 miles roundtrip and 2,663 elevation gain.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Very steep and very beautiful!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

This is truly an a** kicking trail. Loved it ! with gorgeous views at the top. Also there's a nice waterfall at the top where you can kick off your hiking shoes, and relax your feet :) Did this two years ago, summer of 2014

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Gorgeous views all during the hike! Steep and difficult- went mid day which was a mistake. Go in the am. Waterfall was a nice end point!

Sunday, August 07, 2016

great hike very difficult but amazing views and an excellent workout. leave early because of how steep it is and bring a lot of water. totally worth it and would do it again.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Difficult and steep. A challenge for me but my husband didn't have any trouble. Upper Cascade Waterfall was beautiful.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The snow is pretty much gone. It was a great hike with a lot of great views. It takes about 3-4 hours if you're booking it but plan on about 4-5 hours.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

I did this hike with three others May 28, 2016. We went all the way to the mine shaft after the second building.

The conditions were sketchy in some places. There was snow covering the trail on the north side of the valley formed by cascade creek. The area where you would cross the snow is a bit exposed, if you slipped on the snow it would be a long, not so fun, sleigh ride down. Micro-spikes would make this totally doable and safe. The area where you actually cross the creek was slick and relatively narrow, definitely doable, just requires careful footing. The rest of the trail to the mine buildings (two) and the shaft itself did not have any snow or ice.

The scenery was gorgeous, and likely to be even better come mid-June. Cascade falls itself was still heavily snowed in.

My Garmin registered 1810 feet and 6.5 miles.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The challenge is real, friends!! But, you will be rewarded with amazing views and a little bit of history to boot with the Chief Ouray Mine as your end point.

The trail is narrow in areas, but good traction will get you where you want to go. There was still a good amount of snow on the top of the trail, which made getting to the mine itself impossible for this trip. We were still able to view the Mine and upper falls, but we just couldn't cross the falls today....and that was okay!

We brought our 8-year-old lab with us today, and he did fine. Just do your dog a solid and pack in some water for your 4-legged buddy. They'll thank you immensely. Bring adequate water and snacks for the humans in your group, too.

Overall, this was a very challenging but very VERY gorgeous hike. Just take your time and you'll enjoy the beauty of this place immensely.

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