Elk Falls

13.2 Miles / 1,900 ft Elevation Gain

Quick Info

13.2 Miles

Route Type:
Out & Back

Trail Head:
Staunton State Park
Elevation Climb:
1,900 Feet

Amount of Shade
Partially Shaded

View Rating
4.5 Stars

Slide Show

At the beginning of the summer, my hiking buddy sent me a picture of a waterfall on Instagram that we should hike to. After plugging it into AllTrails I laughed when I saw that it was 13 miles. At first it was ‘oh okay, nevermind.’ But that quickly turned into – ‘Why not?’ So we decided we’d add a mile or two onto our hikes every week that summer and eventually we’d work our way up to it. On Labor Day we finally made the trip!

We started at sunrise to beat the crowds and the heat. Staunton State Park is one of my absolute favorites because it has some of the best views. (If you want the most incredible views, check out Mason Creek trail!) It’s also really well maintained and the trails are well marked.

To get to Elk Falls, you take a few different trails: Staunton Ranch to Scout Line, to Marmot Passage, then Chimney Rock and finally Elk Falls trail. Basically take a left at every fork you encounter.

AllTrails has this rated as Hard, but I’d put it more at Moderate. Don’t get me wrong, the length isn’t easy, but there weren’t many difficult areas. There’s one big incline a couple miles in, then two inclines on the way back, but otherwise it really has a lot of flat which is awesome. There’s also plenty of shade and views along the way!

Once you get close to the waterfall the terrain changes in the most wonderful way, amazing rock formations and lush green!

It’s a steep, quick trail down to the falls and since we went early we had it all to ourselves. I imagine that it’s much fuller in the spring, but it was still beautiful.

It’s definitely not my typical “approachable” hike, but it was amazing to work toward a goal like this and then accomplish it!

Slide Show

Author of Approachable Outdoors Kylie Bearse

Kylie Bearse

When I'm not exploring the trails, I'm a Meteorologist! You can see me weekend mornings on NBC affiliate 9News in Colorado. Have a weather question? Don’t hesitate to ask!

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