It is officially summer and that means Denverites are finally able to abandon their dwellings they’ve spent their first half year avoiding bipolar climate conditions. Today was pleasantly warm so I decided to pack a lunch and bring Owen the Labrador with me on a hike that I’ve heard is beautiful and only about 45 minutes from Denver. If you have never been to Maxwell Falls, you need to! It is located in Conifer, a cute little ranch town, off of highway 285. The drive up was beautiful as you pass through the Red Rocks and other scenic forestry. I decided to go with the Upper Trailhead because I wanted to do the Cliff Trail Loop which is 3 miles round trip so I figured that would give me an adequate workout for the day and also hit all the major sites. The trailhead was not hard to find at all, as there is great signage and a very obvious parking lot.
The hike starts out beautifully with much lush greenery and you can hear the flow of the creek alongside as you walk along.
When you come to the first fork in the trail, follow the signs and keep left.
At the second fork in the trail, you can decide if you want to go left to the Cliff Trail Loop and take the longer route or go right and go straight to Maxwell Falls. If you have the time, I recommend taking the Cliff Trail because it leads you to some breathtaking views on top of large rock formations.
Hiking along the trail is fairly easy because it is almost all downhill. It is also encouraging to hear the “falls” as you get closer and closer. The first set of falls are more like cascades, but still beautiful to see nonetheless.
At this point, you can either continue on to Maxwell Falls or head back the way you came. The rest of the trail to Maxwell Falls is a bit of an incline so it could pose a challenge if you’re not prepared for it (like me!). I decided to continue on and took breaks as Owen periodically looked back to check and make sure he wasn’t leaving me behind.
When I finally reached the falls, it was well worth it! I saw more breathtaking views and this time it really looked like a waterfall. Not something you would see in Hawaii, this is Colorado afterall, but definitely one of the best you’ll be able to find in these parts. To get the best view, you have to go up to the ledge of the cliffs which terrified me because it looked like a pretty far drop. I sat on the ledge and started to eat my packed lunch while Owen ate his dog treats and then out of nowhere three, aggressive chipmunks fearlessly bombarded us. (This is a great example of why we shouldn’t feed animals in wildlife!) Not wanting to plummet to my demise off the ledge, I ended picnic time and we started to head back.
The rest of the way had more elevation increases but not too bad. I would also recommend to not talk on your phone and watch for the original trail that leads you back to the lot, or else you will have to do some backtracking. Overall, this hike is definitely something I would recommend doing and it would be a great place to bring out-of-town visitors. I am not the most athletically fit and I was able to handle it no problem. I saw kids on the trail and this was a great place to bring my dog as his hikes are not complete without leaving wet and muddy. The time of year I went was great too because the wildflowers are starting to bloom. The next time you are in need of a new hiking spot, I highly recommend checking out the natural beauty of Maxwell Falls!