Chief Ouray Mine via Upper Cascade Falls Trail

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Uncompahgre National Forest

Chief Ouray Mine via Upper Cascade Falls Trail is a 4.3 mile moderately 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, nature trips, bird watching, and horses and is best used from March until November. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 4.3 miles Elevation Gain: 1,883 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly

hiking

horseback riding

nature trips

bird watching

forest

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

snow

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.

hiking
2 days ago

Very steep... but great views and a beautiful waterfall! Definitely worth it if you’re down for a long climb

Def step but worth it

hiking
17 days ago

Steep climb but views from top are spectacular.

hiking
rocky
snow
6 months ago

hiking
7 months ago

Plan for a steep hike, great views, waterfalls, and a sense of accomplishment. Today the upper Cascade Falls was still mostly frozen and a real treat to see.

hiking
8 months ago

Amazing hike with great views! One of my favorites for sure!

hiking
8 months ago

Has fun switchbacks that are very narrow at times. Walking sticks or trekking poles helpful physically and psychologically.

hiking
no shade
9 months ago

Good conditions today. Made it as far as we could with our 5 year old son.

hiking
9 months ago

Hiked all the way to the mine this morning with my lab. As others have commented, the hike up is work but doable for anyone in decent shape with appropriate footwear. The trail is narrow at times but the footing was fine today (even after a good amount of rain yesterday). We started at the campground trailhead and were up and down in about 3 hours. Crossing the falls was no problem today, easily done without getting your feet wet. The route is well marked and easy to stay on trail. Trail conditions are fine.

hiking
9 months ago

Very tough hike! Lots of steep grades and switchback but the payoff is exceptional! Gorgeous views of surrounding mountains along with waterfalls and Colorado mining history make this a highly recommended trail if in the area

hiking
10 months ago

A strenuous hike, depending on your fitness level. Very narrow in places (1-2 ft wide). Go early to beat afternoon summer storms. Beautiful views. Will do it again!

hiking
10 months ago

My children (aged 10 &11), wife and I hiked this trail starting from Main Street. We averaged a 35 minute/ mile pace ascending. However, going down was hard on the knees and we kept the same pace going down. The mining camp at 10,000 feet is really interesting to explore. There is also a mine shaft 100’ to the left of the waterfall that is easy to access. Allow time to explore a little. This was a great trail to take - just allow about 4-5 hours to hike it with a family.

hiking
10 months ago

Waterfall was really nice. Stream crossing wasn't an issue. Not too many people.

hiking
10 months ago

This was a fun hike! It deserves the “hard” rating because it’s got a steep switchback section that makes you work. The waterfall was beautiful. I was able to cross the creek and go to the bunkhouse (very cool to walk through) and the mine building and shaft. The section from the bunkhouse to the mine building is fairly exposed...so be careful if you have kids or dogs. The view of Ouray is best from the mine shaft. You gotta go all the way to get that outstanding view of the mountains and the city. It’s unbelievable!

hiking
10 months ago

Love this hike! Amazing views, good trail. Waterfall and mine well worth the uphill trek. Steady incline but not bad at all. Did this with my yellow lab as well and he did just fine:)

hiking
10 months ago

great views above ouray, but be really it's a steep trail

hiking
11 months ago

First 500 ft are full of lush green and wild flowers. The next 1300 go from exposed to full coverage. I would suggest doing this in the morning with the Sun in the East or above, otherwise you will probably get pounded by the UV King - aka The Sun aka Giver of Life. The trail at the top is only about 2 feet wide and a foot in some areas. The waterfall is amazing once your up at the top. We must have caught her at the best time, her flow was heavy and gorgeous all at once. Cheers :)

hiking
11 months ago

Difficult, but worth it! The waterfall was gorgeous.

hiking
rocky
11 months ago

Beautiful trail overlooking Ouray. Stopped at Cascade Falls because of water level. Unsure I could cross without getting wet.

hiking
11 months ago

Wow. Spectacular views are a good distraction from the strenuous, sun exposed switchbacks (atleast 14 of them) so start early. The waterfall is nice but the best part is the hike itself. Bring plenty of water.

hiking
11 months ago

Definitely not for the faint of heart with lots of elevation gain, switchback and at times, a barely there hillside trail, the views make up for the rest. Decided not to cross the waterfall stream to get to the mine buildings, but got close enough to see them.

hiking
11 months ago

Fortunately we hit the trail early as it’s exposed. There are multiple washouts that could use some work and the trail is classic single file switch backs. However the view is incredible!

hiking
11 months ago

Hike was amazing and I can see why it’s rated hard. It is a steady steep incline all the way to the top. I was not able to see the mine. The waterfall at the end is spectacular and to get to the mine you had to cross it. Did not look safe. But, if you hike up to that point, it is the distance listed on the app and some of the very best views I have seen!

hiking
11 months ago

what a great hike! barely any snow left on the last bit of the trail but it's just to the side not on the trail itself, good enough to throw a couple of snowballs. We run downhill but you certainly have to be careful because the trail is very narrow in a couple of places so watch your step.

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