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Cascade Falls and Big Pool

  4.5 ( 11 ) Favorite


7.5 mile 12.0 kilometer loop


Ascent: 559' 170 m
Descent: -559' -170 m
High: 8,897' 2,712 m
Low: 8,485' 2,586 m


Avg Grade: 3% (2°)
Max Grade: 15% (9°)


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A scenic out-and-back featuring waterfalls and a natural pool.

Brian Smith

Features Birding · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife


The photogenic Cascade Falls are 3.4 miles into the North Inlet Trail. This easy out-and-back passes through an open meadow where marmots are often found and by a river that winds through a lodgepole pine forest. Fishing is good for small brook trout and an occasional brown trout.


Starting at the North Inlet Trail, head east on the North Inlet Trail as it follows a wide valley and enjoy the views of the marshlands. Soon after starting out, the trail enters a narrower, more rugged landscape. The lower reaches of this trail are very well traveled and meander along a fairly low grade along the creekside.

After just over three miles, you'll arrive at the beautiful Cascade Falls. These falls are about 100 feet long as the North Inlet Creek descends over jagged granite. After viewing the falls, continue eastward on the North Inlet Trail toward Big Pool Campground.

The campground was named after this natural feature that occurs along North Inlet just past a small waterfall. The pool is bound on one side by steep, 10-15 foot cliffs and more gradual sloping granite on the other.

This is the turn around point for this route. Enjoy the varying terrain as you descend back towards Grand Lake on North Inlet Trail and keep your eyes peeled for marmots, moose and other critters.

Flora & Fauna

RMNP is a massive park that is mostly characterized by a montane ecosystem. Here are some of the flora and fauna that you may encounter along this trail:

Flora: Ponderosa pine, douglas fir, wildflowers, shrubs
Fauna: Elk, mule deer, moose, bighorn sheep, coyotes, black bears, cougars, butterflies.

For more detailed information regarding the park's diverse ecosystems, click HERE.

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Oct 14, 2019
Drew Eller
mid 50s. comfortable walk. 7.5mi — 3h 45m
Oct 8, 2019
Tracey Ziniel
Aug 7, 2019
Jason Kennedy
Jun 25, 2019
Christine Benedict
Saw 3 moose in meadow 8.1mi — 3h 25m
Oct 17, 2018
Tim Gleason
7.2mi — 2h 11m
Sep 23, 2018
Christine Hayes
Could hear elk bugling on the trail 7.1mi
Aug 23, 2018
Jeff Chrisler
Great day with minimal people on the trail (Thursday) 7.8mi — 3h 00m
May 23, 2018
JJ Hobbs
Great views, low grade elevation awesome waterfall at end and other side quests along the way 3.5mi

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 11 votes


in West Side


  4.5 from 11 votes
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183 Views Last Month
4,450 Since Jan 15, 2015



Rocky Mountain National Park: Yellow-Bellied Marmot
Jan 15, 2015 near Grand Lake, CO
Deer!  On the North Inlet Trail.
Feb 10, 2015 near Grand Lake, CO
Cascade Falls
Jan 15, 2015 near Grand Lake, CO
High water mark with permission from Hobbes7714 Photo Credit: Andrew Wahr  Link: https://twitter.com/WahrAndrew
Jan 19, 2015 near Grand Lake, CO


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