Bridal Veil Falls - Hiking

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Bridal Veil Falls is a fun day hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. The out-and-back hike ends at a spectacular waterfall, but also includes lovely mountain views and meadows along the way.

Written by

Jessie Hoyng


6.2 miles

The trail straight out to the falls is about 3.1 miles one-way. However, shortly into the hike, the trail splits; you can continue to follow the trail out to the falls, or you can take the fork for a 1.2 mile (one-way) trek out to Gem Lake before resuming your hike.

Destination Distance From Downtown

10.1 miles


3 of 5 diamonds

This is a pretty mellow hike in Rocky Mountain National Park, but rated at a 3-star difficulty level due to the distance (just over three miles one way) and the small amount of scrambling required near the end of the hike.

Time To Complete

4 hours

The trail, which is just over three miles one-way, takes 1-2 hours to reach the falls, depending on your pace. The trail is pretty mellow, without significant elevation gain until you approach the end of the hike. However, once you've reached the falls, you may want to explore the area a little bit, or just sit and enjoy the falls for a while. It's a great place for a picnic!


Spring, Summer, and Fall

This trail is open in the spring and fall, but be aware that weather in the mountains is not the same as weather in Denver. There may be snow, ice, and slush on the trail in the middle of spring. Just be sure to have proper traction, if necessary!

Dog Friendly


Furry friends are not permitted.

Fees Permits


The trail is located within Rocky Mountain National Park, but is not accessed through the park entrance, so park entrance fees are not applicable.

Topographical Map

Bridal Veil Falls - Hiking



Rocky Mountain National Park is home to the Cow Creek Trailhead, which leads to the lovely Bridal Veil Falls. The main feature of this hike is, of course, the waterfall at the end of the trail, but hikers also follow the trail along Cow Creek to trek through meadows and trees, and do a little scrambling near the end of the hike, with spectacular views of the surrounding Rocky Mountains all around.

Visitors who want to add a little to their hike can also take a short, 1.2 mile detour off the trail to the falls to check out Gem Lake, or spend some time exploring the area around Bridal Veil Falls.

What Makes It Great

The hike starts out at the Cow Creek Trailhead, just outside Estes Park, CO. Hikers will stroll through a wide open meadow, with great mountain views on either side.

The trail climbs slowly but steadily over the first couple miles. Much of the trail follows a creek, so there are several pools and creek crossings (with small bridges—no need to get your feet wet on this trail!) along the way to the waterfall.

About a half mile from the falls, the trail starts to get much steeper and involves some scrambling up some boulders/slickrock. When you first approach the area where you’ll need to scramble, it may be a little tricky to see where exactly the trail goes; just climb up the rock to the right of the visible trail, and then head to your left, and you should have no problem reconnecting with the trail.

Once you reach the falls, you can hang out on the rocks near the base of the falls, or if you’re feeling adventurous, you can cross the creek at the base of the waterfall and climb up the rock on the left of the waterfall to get a different view of the falls, and some amazing views of the surrounding mountains!

Who is Going to Love It

Since the hike to Bridal Veil Falls is relatively mellow, it’s a great fit for visitors from sea level/lower elevations who may not be used to hiking at higher altitude, families with younger children, and those newer to hiking in the Rocky Mountains. It has all the great features of a classic Rocky Mountain hike—a creek, a waterfall, trees, a meadow, and great mountain views—without being too strenuous or difficult. And without the park entrance fees! For those wondering, it's perfectly legal to use free access trails to enter certain sections of the park. 

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

To get to Cow Creek Trailhead, head north out of Estes Park on MacGregor Avenue. About a half mile north of highway 34, the road forks; take the right fork for Devils Gulch Road. After a couple miles, the road forks again; this time, take the left fork for McGraw Ranch Road. Follow the road for about two more miles, and you’ll arrive at the trailhead. Parking is free, but is roadside parking and is limited, so arrive early, especially during peak visiting season, to ensure you get a spot.

Note that dogs are not permitted on this trail, since the trail is in national park land.

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