West Creek Falls, Cow Creek Trailhead, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

West Creek Falls - 4.75 miles

Cow Creek Trailhead

West Creek Falls

West Creek Falls

Round-Trip Length: 4.75 miles
Start-End Elevation: 7,855' - 8,158' (8,460' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +303' net elevation gain (+1,434' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

West Creek Falls - 4.75 Miles Round-Trip

The West Creek Falls are located along on a short spur off the North Boundary Trail in the northeast section of Rocky Mountain National Park. The falls pour through tiered granite chutes into sizable pools along West Creek. West Creek Falls offer a comparable aesthetic to nearby Bridal Veil Falls, but lead deeper into the backcountry with lighter crowds.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

Visitors will enjoy diverse forests, good wildlife viewing, and fishing along West Creek:

Head west on Cow Creek Trail through McGraw Ranch to the North Boundary Trail split (.15 miles : 7,875'). The North Boundary Trail turns north and rises steadily through a ponderosa park, joining aspen and spruce as you progress.

Well-spaced trees provide good viewing lanes for deer, elk and coyote that frequent this area.

Travel steepens up a tapered gulch topped by large granite promontories to a divisive ridge between the Cow Creek and West Creek drainages at the trail's highest point (.78 miles : 8,457').

Take in good N-S views before diving down steep, tightly wound switchbacks that moderate near the valley floor (1.25 miles). Note contrastingly thick lodgepole and fir on this north-facing slope.

The trail crosses West Creek (1.45 miles : 7,905'), then turns left beside it at a trail sign. The North Boundary Trail moderates through ponderosa stands to the West Creek Falls Trail split (1.65 miles : 7,953').

The West Creek Falls Trail eases along luxuriant banks, edges away through grassy slopes, then back to the creek. It re-enters Rocky Mountain National Park at 2.0 miles (8,055'), where anglers need honor greenback cutthroat trout regulations.

The trail undulates up-stream to a pool at the base of West Creek Falls (2.37 miles : 8,158').

A rugged social trail climbs to a second pool and larger, more energetic fall. Keep a safe distance, as rocks lining the chute can be very slick and there is little room for error, especially during the runoff.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N40 25.871 W105 30.060 — Cow Creek Trailhead
  • N40 25.889 W105 30.196 — .15 miles : Turn right on North Boundary Trail
  • N40 26.190 W105 30.237 — .5 miles : Steady climb through ponderosa park
  • N40 26.470 W105 30.254 — 1.0 miles : Steep descent down north-facing slope
  • N40 26.755 W105 30.289 — 1.45 miles : Cross West Creek
  • N40 26.843 W105 30.432 — 1.65 miles : West Creek Falls Trail junction
  • N40 26.914 W105 30.739 — 2.0 miles : Undulating travel beside West Creek
  • N40 27.066 W105 30.984 — 2.37 miles : West Creek Falls

Worth Noting

  • Portions of this trail pass through the Comanche Peak Wilderness Area where hunting is permitted. Stay on designated trails and wear bright clothing during the hunting season.

  • The north-facing downhill segment between .78 and 1.25 miles can hold snow well into June. Aspen groves and leafy vegetation along West Creek produce brilliant autumn colors.

  • Horses are not permitted beyond the 2.15 mile mark. A hitch rack is provided between the trail and creek.

Camping and Backpacking Information

    Silvanmere Backcountry Campsite
  • The Silvanmere campsite is located at 9,360', 5.6 miles from the Cow Creek Trailhead. There are 2 sites available. Water is available from a small stream east of the site, however it's typically dry by mid-summer; water can alternatively be found on the nearby Big Thompson River. Wood fires are allowed in metal grates. The site is located in a mixed pine-aspen forest on the east side of the North Boundary Trail. Note that you will be traveling through the Comanche Peak Wilderness to reach this site. Adhere to wilderness regulations posted at the TH while hiking in this area.

  • Kettle Tarn Backcountry Campsite
  • The Kettle Tarn campsite is located at 9,200', 4.9 miles from the North Fork - Dunraven Trailhead and 6.2 miles from the Cow Creek Trailhead. There are 2 sites available and a privy. The site sits on top of a moraine above a small tarn. The site is located on the south side of the North Fork of Big Thompson River, surrounded by pine trees and well hidden from the trail. Note that you will be traveling through the Comanche Peak Wilderness to reach this site. Adhere to wilderness regulations posted at the TH while hiking in this area.

  • Boundary Creek Backcountry Campsite
  • The Boundary Creek campsite is located at 9,120', 4.6 miles from the North Fork - Dunraven Trailhead and approx 6.3 miles from the Cow Creek Trailhead. 2 sites and a privy are available. Water is available from Boundary Creek and the North Fork of Big Thompson River. Wood fires are allowed in metal grates. The site is located north of the North Fork Trail, just over a small footbridge on Boundary Creek. Note that you will be traveling through the Comanche Peak Wilderness to reach this site. Adhere to wilderness regulations posted at the TH while hiking in this area.

  • Halfway Backcountry Campsite
  • The Halfway campsite is located at 9,520', 6.35 miles from the Cow Creek Trailhead and 5.6 miles from the North Fork - Dunraven Trailhead. 2 sites and a privy are available. Water is available from the North Fork of Big Thompson River. Wood fires are allowed in metal grates. Wood fires are allowed in metal grates. The site is located .25 miles west of the North Boundary - North Fork Trail junction, across the stream from a small meadow. Note that you will be traveling through the Comanche Peak Wilderness to reach this site. Adhere to wilderness regulations posted at the TH while hiking in this area.

  • Rabbit Ears Backcountry Campsite
  • The Rabbit Ears campsite is located at 8,100', 1.4 miles from the Cow Creek Trailhead and 5.5 miles from the Lumpy Ridge Trailhead. There is 1 site and a bear box available. Water is available from Cow Creek. The site is located south of the Cow Creek Trail in an open area surrounded by trees. It sits below the ridge where two upright rocks simulate rabbit ears. A rock bench behind the site makes a natural seating area.

  • Peregrine Backcountry Campsite
  • The Peregrine campsite is located at 8,480', 2.0 miles from the Cow Creek Trailhead and 5.2 miles from the Lump Ridge Trailhead. There is 1 site and a bear box available. Water is available from Cow Creek. The site is located off the Cow Creek Trail, approx. 100 yards past the Dark Mountain Trail junction.

  • McGregor Mountain Backcountry Campsite
  • The McGregor campsite is located at 9,040', 4.1 miles from the Cow Creek Trailhead and 5.1 miles from the Lumpy Ridge Trailhead. There are 2 sites available; no bear boxes are provided. Water is available from Black Canyon Creek. The site is located in a thick pine forest south of Black Canyon Creek off the Black Canyon Trail.

  • Wood signs mark campsite spurs, which may also be marked by red arrowheads on trees. Pitch tents as close to the indicated site as possible, safely away from standing dead trees. Boil or adequately treat all water. Stoves only. Fires are prohibited, unless staying in a wood fire site with visible metal fire ring.

Rules and Regulations

  • There's a $20 entrance fee to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Directions to Trailhead

West Creek Falls is accessed from the Cow Creek Trailhead in the northeast section of Rocky Mountain National Park. The Cow Creek Trailhead is located within McGraw Ranch, north of Estes Park off Devils Gulch Road.

Head north from downtown Estes Park on Devils Gulch Road for 4 miles to the McGraw Ranch sign on the left. Bear left onto McGraw Ranch Road and travel another 2.1 miles to the Cow Creek Trailhead. Park only within designated spaces at the trailhead and be cognizant of nearby private property.

Contact Information

Rocky Mountain National Park
Visitor Information:
970.586.1206

Backcountry Office
970.586.1242

Campground Reservations
800.365.2267

Emergency Dispatch
970.586.1203

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.



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