Rocky Mountain National Park: Ouzel Falls

Connect subalpine waterfalls, gurgling creeks, and overlooks above Wild Basin on this 5.3-miler in Rocky Mountain National Park.
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Connect subalpine waterfalls, gurgling creeks, and overlooks above Wild Basin on this 5.3-miler in Rocky Mountain National Park.

From the Wild Basin Trailhead, head southwest through an evergreen corridor mixed with aspen. In .4 mile, the trail passes Copeland Falls. Bear left onto a rocky spur for views overlooking the falls, or keep right on the main trail to continue hiking. Massive boulders flank the trail and rugged cliff bands rise dramatically on the right.

After 1.5 miles, cross a wooden bridge over St. Vrain Creek and start a moderate climb to the Calypso Cascades. The route heads west at the cascades and passes a several clearings with views across Wild Basin (on cloud-free days, look for Longs Peak to the north).

At mile 2.6, Ouzel Falls comes into view. For up-close views, leave the trail and head west to reach the bottom of the falls. Drop your pack and take a break next to the falls before retracing the same route back 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 Kim Phillips and Mark Harrison

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 8.5

Waypoints

OUZ001

Location: 40.208218, -105.566437

Wild Basin parking area and trailhead; ranger's cabin; bathrooms. In the winter time, park 1.1 miles up the road at the winter trailhead.

OUZ002

Location: 40.207748, -105.566551

Trailhead; cross bridge and head southwest through a corridor of conifers and aspen. Mountain lion sightings aren't extremely common here, but they do happen.

OUZ003

Location: 40.206016, -105.570519

Creek crossing on wooden bridge; views through the trees of ridgeline. Several creeks run alongside and bisect the trail on the way up to Ouzel Falls.

OUZ004

Location: 40.205124, -105.571335

Bear right @ Y-junction. Side trip: To see Copeland Falls, bear left @ junction and follow rocky spur trail to lookout over the lower or upper falls.15-foot boulders sit between aspens on right side of trail. Footing can be precarious here in the winter.

OUZ005

Location: 40.204182, -105.57283

Rock-strewn trail; pass boulders; cliffs rise on right side of trail.

OUZ006

Location: 40.203968, -105.573135

Keep straight @ 3-way. The trail to the left leads to a longer sidetrip to Copeland Falls.

OUZ007

Location: 40.203049, -105.577347

Listen for the rushing creek.

OUZ008

Location: 40.200932, -105.582397

Creek comes into view; rock slab on right

OUZ009

Location: 40.200748, -105.58297

Climb several rock steps as the trail turns away from the creek bed.

OUZ010

Location: 40.200333, -105.587913

Pass Pine Ridge campsite on right.

OUZ011

Location: 40.1996, -105.588364

Cross bridge over St. Vrain Creek. From here the grade of the trail ticks up a notch, gaining 500 feet of elevation in the next 1.2 miles.

OUZ012

Location: 40.195534, -105.590401

Turn right @ T-junction. Cross wooden bridge over creek. Calypso Cascades tumble down rocky, forested slopes on the left.

OUZ013

Location: 40.195534, -105.590965

Cross bridge

OUZ014

Location: 40.196732, -105.593483

Trail passes through an open glade clearing. Views of ridgeline and peaks to the north.

OUZ015

Location: 40.1978, -105.595665

Small overlook with views down the basin. From here, the trail ascends a series of switchbacks on the approach to the Falls.

OUZ016

Location: 40.19865, -105.599716

Ouzel Falls: For closer views, turn left off trail to bottom of the falls.

Creek Crossing

Location: 40.205654, -105.57077

Spur Trail to Copeland Falls

Location: 40.205288, -105.571236

Melting Snow and Ice

Location: 40.204121, -105.572952

Bridge on St. Vrain Creek

Location: 40.200497, -105.58744

Bridge Crossing

Location: 40.199696, -105.588242

Cross the St. Vrain Creek on a wooden bridge.

Calypso Cascades

Location: 40.195641, -105.590492

Open Glade Clearing

Location: 40.196762, -105.593376