Hiking Project Logo

Elk Falls Out and Back

Intermediate
 4.4 (24) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

This longer hike is well worth the effort as it provides views along the way, ending at a scenic waterfall.


Your Rating:      Clear Rating
Your Difficulty:
Your Favorites: Add to Favorites · Your List
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

14.0

Miles

22.6

KM

Out and Back

9,253' 2,820 m

High

8,178' 2,493 m

Low

1,936' 590 m

Up

1,936' 590 m

Down

5%

Avg Grade (3°)

47%

Max Grade (25°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Overview

Visitors looking for a route that allows exploration of many of Colorado's ecosystems need to look no further than this scenic route in Staunton State Park.

Description

Beginning from the main parking area in the southern extent, visitors will start out on the Staunton Ranch Trail. This portion is fairly mellow and makes for a good warm up. Though the going will be fairly easy, you'll be on a steady incline. If you notice that your heart rate is up, this sneaky uphill is to blame! You'll pass through a variety of terrain types and ecosystems, which ensures that you'll have enjoyable views along the whole trail. Keep an eye out for elk in both mixed conifer/aspen and aspen forests, as these large ungulates are particularly partial to snacking on aspens.

As you continue along, the trail will start to get a bit steeper, but beautiful views will be your reward. At just over three miles into your journey, you'll take a left onto the Marmot Passage Trail. As its name suggests, you might be able to catch sight of a yellow-bellied Marmot on this trail, so keep an eye out! Once you transition to this trail, the going will get a little more difficult, as the grade increases slightly, and there will be more technical aspects on the trail, including roots and rocks. About halfway through this trail, you'll begin a gradual descent, hinting at the fact that you're beginning your initial descent to the falls.

Don't despair, you'll continue to enjoy scenic views of both forests, meadows, and incredible rock formations. Soon enough, hikers will make another left onto the Chimney Rock Trail. This route will continue more of the same from the Marmot Passage Trail, but you'll be getting ever closer to your goal, the scenic Elk Falls!

A short continuation will lead to the Elk Falls Trail, which will lead you on a steep descent to North Elk Creek. Though this portion is steep, you'll be able to get up close and personal with Elk Falls as it tumbles 100 feet to meet the creek. Take some time to enjoy the sound of the water and potentially have a snack before returning the way that you came. The first few miles hiking away from the creek will be a climb, but you'll be able to coast back to the parking area.

Even though you'll be moving along the same trails, you'll enjoy the new perspective on the landscape. By the time you'll return to the parking area, you can congratulate yourself on knocking out a lovely 14 miles!

Flora & Fauna

You're likely to see plenty of Colorado natives, including aspens, wildflowers, elk, marmot, and many avian species.

Contacts

Shared By:

Mikhaila Redovian with improvements by Cassie Wallace

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 24 votes

#500

Overall
  4.4 from 24 votes
5 Star
50%
4 Star
46%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
4%
Recommended Route Rankings

#103

in Colorado

#500

Overall
19 Views Last Month
4,108 Since Oct 20, 2016
Intermediate

0%
0%
81%
10%
10%
0%

Photos

Enjoy a great view of Lions Head along the Staunton Ranch Trail.
Apr 8, 2017 near Pine, CO
Staunton Ranch Trail offers beautiful views and quiet solitude.
Apr 8, 2017 near Pine, CO
Marmot Passage.
Oct 20, 2016 near Pine, CO
The trail widens to a road for a bit when you turn onto the Staunton Ranch Trail from the Border Line Trail
Sep 9, 2018 near Bailey, CO
Cathedral Rocks as seen from the Elk Falls Trail
Dec 1, 2017 near Bailey, CO
Elk Falls
Sep 15, 2020 near Bailey, CO

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

Update Conditions
Minor Issues 59 days ago See History
Add Your Check-In

Check-Ins

Nov 8, 2020
Rachel Pierstorff
12.1mi
Jul 30, 2020
Ann Zweig
Jun 20, 2020
Shawn Taylor
Check hike to the falls. Also checked out the overlook. Such a great view! — 6h 00m
Jun 18, 2020
Erin Andersen
Took Bugling Elk instead of Marmot Passage and Chase Meadows to Davis Ponds on the return trip. 12.2mi — 4h 21m
May 23, 2020
John B
May 9, 2020
Mike Loftus
pretty place, seems like theres a lot of climbing going on there. look into this further 13.5mi — 5h 00m
Mar 21, 2020
Mike Amolsch
Finally made it to falls! Snow packed. Deep in spots. Quiet today with what's going on, 36,000 steps! Great. Hard but gratifying day! Stay strong all 15mi
Mar 14, 2020
Cory -
12.5mi