Bridal Veil Falls, Cow Creek Trailhead, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Bridal Veil Falls - 6.1 miles
Cow Creek Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||6.1 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||7,855' - 8,775' (8,775' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+920' net elevation gain (+977' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Bridal Veil Falls - 6.1 Miles Round-Trip
Bridal Veil Falls is located 3.05 miles from the Cow Creek Trailhead on the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park. The hike closely follows Cow Creek through ponderosa parks and aspen-fir forests to the 20' cascade.
This 3-4 season trail features mild grades, abundant wildlife and views of Lumpy Ridge - a prominent granite rock complex home to numerous raptor species and world class climbing.
The Bridal Veil Falls Trail is especially attractive in the fall when aspen and leafy riparian corridors yield brilliant colors. Early risers will enjoy favorable light and a good chance of seeing deer, elk, turkey, coyote, and fox:
The Cow Creek Trail heads west on a gravel road through the McGraw Ranch Research Facility into a large meadow fed by Cow Creek. It moves quickly through open space before narrowing on single track, rising incrementally toward the creek (.65 miles : 7,938'). Well-spaced aspen and ponderosa provide good wildlife viewing lanes through much of the lower valley.
The trail passes through intervals of meadow and sparse timber to the Gem Lake Trail split (1.15 miles : 8,095') and Rabbit Ears Backcountry Campsite spur (1.35 miles : 8,089').
You'll reach the Bridal Veil Falls - Dark Mountain Trail split in the center of another large meadow and veer right (1.95 miles : 8,236').
The grade steepens - albeit modestly - into a busy mix of ponderosa, aspen, fir, and spruce before moderating on a damp path beside the creek. It crosses the creek twice (2.6 miles and 2.85 miles) and continues up a confining ravine to a hitchrack, past which horses are not permitted (2.9 miles : 8,614').
The trail is rugged and occasionally ill-defined as it climbs rocks slabs and stone stairs to the base of Bridal Veil Falls (3.05 miles : 8,775').
Uneven terrain, limited space, and powerful currents may initially limit views, but creative maneuvering should help find a desirable vantage (much of the year you can expect to get a bit wet). The top of Bridal Veil Falls is accessible from a social trail up its south side, where you'll find a set of smooth running cascades, interesting rock formations and terrific views of this isolated vicinity.
- N40 25.875 W105 30.058 — Cow Creek Trailhead
- N40 25.806 W105 30.604 — .5 miles : Gentle climb beside Cow Creek
- N40 25.662 W105 31.257 — 1.15 miles : Gem Lake Trail split
- N40 25.629 W105 31.440 — 1.35 miles : Rabbit Ears Backcountry Campsite
- N40 25.638 W105 32.095 — 1.95 miles : Veer right on Cow Creek Trail to Bridal Veil
- N40 25.930 W105 32.706 — 2.6 miles : Cross left over Cow Creek
- N40 26.061 W105 32.873 — 2.85 miles : Cross right over Cow Creek
- N40 26.130 W105 33.074 — 3.05 miles : Bridal Veil Falls
- The Cow Creek Trail's mild grades and clear conditions make it a favorite among local trail runners. Gem Lake, the North Boundary Trail, and world class rocky climbing on Lumpy Ridge are accessible from the Cow Creek Trailhead.
- The McGraw Ranch Research Facility was established for biology and wildlife research in the West Creek Natural Research Area.
- This is a very popular trail and parking is limited at the Cow Creek Trailhead. Arrive early to secure a space and measure of solitude. Overnight parking requires a permit.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- Rabbit Ears Backcountry Campsite
- The Rabbit Ears campsite is located at 8,100', 1.35 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.
Directions to Trailhead
Bridal Veil 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 on 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.
Rocky Mountain National Park