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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Hiking to Upper Cascade Falls, Ourary Colorado

** Video link at the bottom of post **
I had visited Ouray several times, but until July 2016 I had only seen the lower Cascade Falls.  I had not hiked up to the Upper Cascade Falls and Chief Ouray mine.  The abandoned building of Chief Ouray mine can be seen high above Ouray to the east above Lower Cascade Falls, but Upper Falls can not be seen from town.

The trailhead is located in the Amphitheater Campground at the southeast corner of the parking lot and the campground is in the southeast corner of the town of Ouray.  The trail is well marked and easy to find.  There are other trailheads which intersect the trail.

Trailhead is easy to find
The trail meanders through the forest and begins to ascend up the side of the mountains with a series of switchbacks.  The trail starts at 8,475 feet and reaches 10,000 feet prior to making it to the falls. 

Early on the trail

An interesting grove on the trail
With an elevation gain of 1,525 feet in approx. 2.2 miles the trail is considered moderate-strenuous.  The views of the San Juan Mountains and the town of Ouray from the trail are awesome.

Looking south from the trail
The trail never gets above treeline, but the trees do thin out allowing great views of the area.  About 2 miles in the trail makes a sharp turn at the edge of the mountain, which is the high point of the trail,  and begins to descent to the falls.
The trails turns sharply just past the rocks on the right and descents to the falls.
It was not long after the switchback I began to hear Upper Cascade Falls and soon the falls came into view. 
First view of the final crest of Upper Cascade Falls
After spending some time at the falls I continued on the trail with a slight elevation gain to the abandoned equipment building of the Chief Ouray mine.
Chief Ouray equipment building

 The old building was surprisingly sturdy and it was obvious hikers had visited a lot.  I hike a little past the building stopping to enjoy a picnic of trail mix and turkey jerky while soaking in the peacefulness and views.  I hiked down the same trail and never saw another hiker.  I enjoyed the solitude.

I highly recommend the hike.  It is worth it.  Check out the video below slowing a lot more from the hike.  Please also visit the video on Youtube where you can like, share, comment and subscribe!

Watch video on YouTube

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