I was very lucky to hike this trail as the fall colors were starting to peak! it was very cool to see the falls. the hike can almost be divided into three different portions.
The first portion actually gets you to the Fish Creek Falls. It's a short easy hike that many different ages can do. The path is wide. The altitude is noticeable, especially when walking back up a moderate incline to the main parking area. There is a little bridge where you can stand and enjoy the falls. You can climb up to a higher bridge and get a better view of them as well. You can spend maybe an hour between waling and standing around taking it in.
The second portion is the Upper Falls. Give yourself 3-4 hours for this which includes idle time. I think it is worth the hike as you walk through lush forests of aspen and pine. The autumn colors are breathtaking especially against a Colorado bright blue sky. The falls themselves don't have nearly the height as the previous, but they have a lot of power and there are many places to sit and relax on the rocks and enjoy . It is also considerably less crowded.. I would not recommend this portion of the hike for most children under 12 or for the elderly. For a small portion,you traverse rock to get the the Upper Falls :). If you decide to go this far bring food and water, water, water.
You can go further to Long lake- which is the third part. The scenery continues to be amazing and you walk through aspen groves and wide open valleys. Truthfully we weren't prepared and decided on a whim to do the 11 mile round trip hike to long lake. Not smart considering we had 2 small water bottles. That being said I also felt like Long Lake was kind of average- sort of a letdown. Usually when you put in that much effort and over 2500 feet elevation gain, I expect something beautiful at the "end". This portion of the hike is moderate to difficult. The journey there was quiet and peaceful as not many people do this portion of the hike. I personally think hiking to Long Lake wasn't worth it. But as far as the trail, it is worth walking past the Upper Falls through some portion of the valley for the beauty and serenity.There are other trails that you can take from here as we came across a lot of distance runners and mountain bikers. Hiking to Long Lake and back was about 7 hours or so.
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