Sometimes they’re for sitting in your pajamas with a cup of tea in your hand all morning, and other times they’re for sleeping in and going for an easy hike to one of your favorite spots. This particular Sunday, Ryan and I chose the second option.
Bridal Veil Falls is technically in Rocky Mountain National Park, but due to its far eastern location, you do not have to go through any official entrances. The Cow Creek Trailhead is accessed from the town of Estes Park and the “trailhead” consists of a few (~10) parking spots along the dirt road. This is a downside of the location because you’re forced into an early-ish morning to secure a spot (we arrived a little before 10am and got the last parking spot), but it is also a good thing because it serves as a form of crowd control and not once have we had to share the trail with others.
We set out to the falls, stopping on several occasions to enjoy the lush forest and wildflower-covered meadows. The majority of the hike is spent with Lumpy Ridge, a series of impressive granite rock formations, on one side and the swift-moving Cow Creek on the other. While we could hear several raptors screeching from the cliffs, unfortunately we not able to see any of them. We did, however, see a small group of grouse slowly making their way on and near the trail. They are such pretty birds, but are certainly not among the most intelligent.
We then started our ascent to the falls through the dense forest; ponderosa, fir, spruce, and aspens keep the trail shaded and the trail moist from the creek running along (and across) it. We came to a smaller waterfall cascading into a deep pool. Ryan went over to take a look, and before long his fishing pole was out and assembled…
…and those fish were hungry! He caught a total of four Brook Trout in a matter of minutes. Considering the size of their pond, they were of pretty good size of well. They were beautiful fish and Ryan was having a blast catching them, but we knew that we were close to Bridal Veil Falls and with rain clouds forming overhead, we carried on.
As we got closer to the falls, the creek crossings became more and more frequent. The last time we did this hike was late October of last year; the leaves had already fallen and most of the creek dried up by then. The lushness of the forest and the activity of the creek was a refreshing change of scenery.
At last, Bridal Veil Falls! The flow was so much higher this time around and offered a refreshing mist while we scrambled around the rocks in an attempt to find the best viewpoint. We were not able to access the trail leading to the top of the falls today due to the water flow, but we enjoyed ourselves just the same. After taking a quick break to cool down and snack on some trail mix, we headed back to the car.
6 miles and 4 hours later, our “lazy Sunday” was complete. A little time spent in the mountains is always better than no time, especially with a busy work week ahead of us. So it goes!
“Within nature lies the cure for humanity!”