Bridal Veil Falls Trail
Updated on April 24, 2011 by Tony Parker
Trail Length3.2 miles one-way , 6.4 round trip
|Starting Elevation||7840 feet|
|Ending Elevation||8900 feet|
|Elevation Change||1060 feet|
Bridal Veil Falls at the end of the Cow Creek Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park strolls along old McGraw Ranch roads and former riding trails through grassy meadows and rolling hills around the base of Sheep Mtn until it ascends through a thick aspen grove up the rocky cleft where the fall drops creating a picturesque cascade.
This easy to moderate trail is a good hike for families and will only take a little over an hour or two depending on your speed. Only at the very end when stepping up rock does one need to take caution. Some of larger rock slabs can be icy and slippery in the non-summer months and you’ll need to take caution at those spots, but otherwise the trail is fairly easy. Be cautious and alert for lightning especially when crossing open areas during thunder storms as well.
The trail head starts at the old McGraw Ranch. The main house and some other buildings date from the 1880’s as part of the original ranch. John and Irene McGraw purchased the ranch in 1909. Many of the outer bunkhouses date from between 1836 and 1988 when it was run as a guest ranch. The government took it over in 1988 and converted into offices and residence quarters for biological researchers. The National Park Service was going to raze all buildings like they did at Grand Teton and Glacier National Parks but the National Trust for Historic Preservation saved McGraw from similar policies. So if any of you are pursuing careers in biology or forestry, and even history or related social sciences, you might want to look into research opportunities at this prime spot.
Nearby Trails: Other nearby trails in the park you may enjoy include: The North Boundary Trail, Gem Lake, Lawn Lake, Rabbit Ears, Black Canyon, Lumpy Ridge, Balanced Rock
Travel time: About 10 minutes from Estes Park, or 95 minutes from Denver.
DirectionsYou can use US 36 from Lyons or US 34 from Loveland to get to Estes Park. 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. Or, if your’re coming from Glen Haven, travel over the hairpin switchbacs of Devil’s Gulch road and as it levels off in a few miles, you’ll see McGraw Ranch Rd forking off to the north (or right) as a natural appendage from Devils gulch road. An extremely popular trail, parking is limited at the Cow Creek Trailhead to parallel parking on the road outside of the McGraw research center. An electronic traffic sign at the start of McGraw road warns drivers when the parking is full. Arrive early to secure a space and to obtain a measure of solitude. Overnight parking requires a permit. Click the map to find directions
About Tony Parker, Contributor of this Hike
Tony is a Colorado native (born in Colo. Springs), avid hiker, and general Colorado enthusiast.