Cascade Creek Hiking

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About

Summary

Spend an afternoon at peace in nature, walking alongside the rushing Cascade Creek and wandering through long meadows painted with wildflowers. The Cascade Creek Trail, which sits just below Engineer Mountain, is a calm and quiet alternative to many of the more grandiose hikes in the area.

Written by

Margaret Hedderman

Distance

6.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

0.1 miles

Difficulty

3 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

4 hours

Trails eventually merge with the Colorado Trail, meaning you can extend your time out hiking as long as you like

Seasonality

Summer and Fall

Dog Friendly

Yes

Fees Permits

No

Land Website

Cascade Creek Trail

Review

Intro

Spend an afternoon at peace in nature, walking alongside the rushing Cascade Creek and wandering through long meadows painted with wildflowers. The Cascade Creek Trail, which sits just below Engineer Mountain, is a calm and quiet alternative to many of the more grandiose hikes in the area. The trail stays below tree line, occasionally clearing for glimpses of Grizzly Peak. Hike far enough up the trail and you’ll be rewarded with some spectacular waterfalls. This trail is also a good access point for parts of The Colorado Trail and the Rico/Silverton Trail.

What Makes It Great

There are actually two Cascade Creek Trails, one on either side of the creek. Though the Forest Service recommends hiking on the western side (because the grade is easier), it can be inaccessible when the creek is running high. From the parking area on Forest Road #783, walk about ¾ of a mile up the 4WD track, being sure not to veer off onto the numerous private drives. The road will dead-end at a red gate. Go through the gate and walk past an old log cabin on your right to begin the trail.

The trail will split in about a ¼ of a mile, just after a small stream crossing. To walk on the western trail, you’ll have to cross the creek. In the spring and early summer, Cascade Creek can be swift moving and potentially dangerous, so use your best judgment on whether or not to cross. The western trail stays within sight – or earshot – of Cascade Creek for much of the hike and has some tremendous views of waterfalls.

If you stay on the eastern side, the trail will follow the creek before climbing some 320’ up the slope above the valley. The hike will see you through pleasant aspen groves and dim pine forests. Roughly three miles in (from the carpark), you’ll come to a footbridge over Engine Creek. Water plummets down rocky tiers before rushing under the footbridge. This waterfall makes a great turnaround point. Otherwise, you can continue up the trail before it intersects with the Greysill Trail and eventually the Colorado Trail.

Who is Going to Love It

If you’re looking to avoid the crowds and spend a peaceful afternoon in the woods, Cascade Creek is your trail. Most fit individuals – kids and seniors as well - can hike this relatively moderate path. Compared to some of the more popular high country hikes, Cascade Creek sees much less traffic, possibly because it doesn’t arrive at a spectacular mountain vista or high alpine lake. But, as Emerson said, “Life is a journey, not a destination.”

Cascade Creek is also a great option if there is still snow in the high country.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

Drive north on US 550, past Purgatory Resort. In 29-miles, the road makes a hairpin turn over Cascade Creek. Forest Road #783 will quickly emerge on your left. Turn here and drive another mile up the road to a parking area on your left. Past the parking area, the road turns into a 4WD track.

Location

Cascade Creek Trail

Durango, CO,
37.27528, -107.880067

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