Rocky Mountain National Park: Bridal Veil Falls

Trace a mountain stream through knee-high grasslands and shady aspen groves to a 20-foot waterfall on this moderate 6.2-miler in Rocky Mountain National Park.
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Trace a mountain stream through knee-high grasslands and shady aspen groves to a 20-foot waterfall on this moderate 6.2-miler in Rocky Mountain National Park.

From McGraw Ranch, take the doubletrack into a pasture dotted with old-growth ponderosas. Snow-capped mountains line the right side of the valley while the sandstone crags of Lumpy Ridge form a 9,000-foot boundary to the left. After 2.5 miles, the trail climbs through a thick forest of pines and aspens, as it begins to crisscross the creek. In the next half-mile the cascades sliding between large boulders will whet your appetite for the trail’s destination.

At mile 3, Bridal Veil Falls shoots sun-kissed whitewater off a wide cliff face. While the boulders beneath the falls offer plenty of comfortable seating for spectators, for an unforgettable view of the pine-blanketed valley and the surrounding peaks, continue up the spur trail to the left of the falls and rest on top of a broad plateau. The water that feeds the falls will be flowing softly to your left. Soak it all in before backtracking to the trailhead.

INFO For information on permits, current trail and camp conditions, and wilderness guidelines, go to nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/backcountry.htm

PERMIT A wilderness permit is required for all overnight camping in the backcountry. Reservations accepted ($20 administrative fee for permits during peak season). nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/backcntry_guide.htm

CONTACT Rocky Mountain National Park, (970) 586-1206; nps.gov/romo

-Mapped by Kristy Holland & MacKenzie Ryan

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 10.0

Waypoints

BVF001

Location: 40.431742, -105.50125

At the Cow Creek Trailhead, cross the bridge over a small pond and walk through McGraw Ranch. The Continental Divide Research Learning Center is here at 7,840 feet. Follow the trail to the right of the kiosk, bearing left at the McGraw Ranch barn and Cow Creek Trailhead.

BVF002

Location: 40.431468, -105.503181

Pass through an open meadow with views of the surroundings mountains. Go straight past the toilets and bear right on the doubletrack.

BVF003

Location: 40.429222, -105.512646

Climb up a short set of stairs and continue uphill for a few paces. Pass through a small aspen grove.

BVF004

Location: 40.427684, -105.520923

Go straight @ the T-junction. The sign indicates it is 2 miles to Bridal Veil Falls.

BVF005

Location: 40.427165, -105.524018

Pass Rabbit Furs Campground.

BVF006

Location: 40.426927, -105.532207

Follow the trail as it heads away from the river over a gentle uphill. Cow Creek Trail slices through another open meadow, passing impressive rock formations to the right.

BVF007

Location: 40.427171, -105.534937

Bear right @ the Y-junction and continue on Cow Creek Trail.

BVF008

Location: 40.430175, -105.541235

The trail begins to climb through a forest of ponderosa pines.

BVF009

Location: 40.43158, -105.544369

Cross the split log bridge.

BVF010

Location: 40.432041, -105.54537

Cross a second footbridge and hike through a thick aspen grove. The stream will be on the right side of the trail.

BVF011

Location: 40.433691, -105.547207

Pass a small waterfall on the right of the trail.

BVF012

Location: 40.434303, -105.547945

Cross over a third footbridge.

BVF013

Location: 40.435083, -105.549187

Reach Bridal Veil Falls, a thin whitewater ribbon pummeling 20 feet off a wide granite cliff. Sit and rest on a nearby boulder then walk across the creek, keeping the falls to the right. Take the spur trail to the left of Bridal Veil to access the upper falls.

BVF014

Location: 40.435852, -105.551223

Stop at the upper falls. This is a great place to sunbathe, look at the mountains, or peer into the valley below. Exercise caution on the exposed plateau. When finished, backtrack to the trailhead.

Bridal Veil Falls

Location: 40.43507, -105.549071

©MacKenzie Ryan

The barn and trailhead

Location: 40.431726, -105.50129

©MacKenzie Ryan

Cow Creek Trail

Location: 40.431285, -105.503318

©MacKenzie Ryan

Two miles to falls

Location: 40.427651, -105.52086

©MacKenzie Ryan

Looking toward Lumpy Ridge

Location: 40.427332, -105.522351

©MacKenzie Ryan

Through the meadow

Location: 40.426949, -105.525205

©MacKenzie Ryan

Crossing the first bridge

Location: 40.431539, -105.544313

©MacKenzie Ryan

Trailside cascade

Location: 40.433727, -105.547017

©MacKenzie Ryan

The second bridge

Location: 40.434336, -105.547983

©MacKenzie Ryan

Short rock scramble

Location: 40.434568, -105.548084

©MacKenzie Ryan

Rock formations near falls

Location: 40.434919, -105.548186

©MacKenzie Ryan

Side view of falls

Location: 40.435152, -105.549082

©MacKenzie Ryan

Upper falls

Location: 40.435826, -105.551228

©MacKenzie Ryan