RMNP – Copeland Falls, Calypso Cascades, and Ouzel Falls

Hiking to Ouzel Falls

Ouzel Falls is a refreshing and popular Rocky Mountain National Park destination to hike to in the summer months. We visited in early August on an overcast day.

The Hike

This is a moderate hike that starts at Wild Basin Trailhead. The Wild Basin Trailhead has restrooms.

Although the parking lot is fairly big, it was already almost full at 6 am on a Saturday morning. When we finished our hike around 10 am the parking lot was completely full, as well as several parking areas along the road leading up to the Wild Basin Trailhead. If you get in late and the parking lot is full, depending on where you park, you may need to hike up to an extra mile or so in each direction from your parking spot.

The hike goes along Wild Basin Trail by the North Saint Vrain Creek, passing Copeland Falls about 0.3 miles in, Calypso Cascades at 1.8 miles in, ending at Ouzel Falls, about 2.7 miles from the trailhead. Although the powerful and beautiful Ouzel Falls is the trek destination, Copeland Falls and Calypso Cascades are also great waterfalls to see along the way.

Wild Basin Trail

Near the beginning of the hike you’ll find a couple stretches of open meadow with a variety of wildflowers.

Wild Basin Trail

Copeland Falls

At 0.3 miles into the hike along Wild Basin Trail, you can take a side trail to view the Upper and Lower Copeland Falls. This trail links back to Wild Basin Trail.

Copeland Falls – Lower Falls

The Lower Copeland Falls are not dramatic, but are beautiful in their own way –

Lower Copeland Falls

Copeland Falls – Upper Falls

The Upper Copeland Falls is a long stretch of short cascades that makes for a lovely photo –

Upper Copeland Falls

Continuing along Wild Basin Trail

As you continue on Wild Basin Trail, you walk next to the rushing North Saint Vrain Creek most of the way.

North Saint Vrain Creek

North Saint Vrain Creek

At 1.4 miles in there is a trail junction that leads to several campsites, but you stay on Wild Basin Trail all the way up. As is always the case with Rocky Mountain National Park wilderness camping, you need to make a reservation in advance and get a permit in order to camp there.

At 1.8 miles in you hit the Calypso Cascades.

Calypso Cascades

Of the three big waterfalls on the hike, Calypso Cascades was our favorite.

Calypso Cascades

It’s possible to go on a shorter hike just to the Calypso Cascades, with a round trip of 3.6 miles.

Wild Basin Trail after Calypso Cascades

After the Cascades, the trail turns away from the North Saint Vrain Creek. Over the next mile you hike through forest.

Wild Basin Trail

Ouzel Falls

You can hear the powerful rush of the water coming down Ouzel Falls from a distance away.

In order to get close to the falls, you have to turn left off the trail before the bridge that crosses Ouzel Creek and follow the makeshift trail up to the falls. This is the main view of the falls –

Ouzel Falls

If you climb up a bit higher and around, you can get a great close-up view of Ouzel Falls as well –

Ouzel Falls

Ouzel Falls is 40 feet high and one of the bigger falls that we’ve seen so far in our hiking travels.

Recommended as a Hike

The hike to Ouzel Falls is on the easier side of moderate, passing by several lovely waterfalls. It’s a great hike to do if you don’t want to hike too far and still see some amazing sights.

Other Hiking Options

If you are looking for a more difficult and longer hike that includes the falls, there are a few options –

  1. Ouzel Lake – 9.4 miles
  2. Thunder Lake – 11.2 miles
  3. Bluebird Lake – 12.1 miles

We haven’t been to these destinations yet, but hopefully will in the future.

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