Journey Jotters

Bitten by the travel bug

Yesterday, I wrote about our outdoor morning 4WD adventure on the third day of our Telluride trip here. Our plan that day had been to finish the 4 WD tour in the morning and hike to Bridal Veil Falls in the afternoon. That way, we wouldn’t be constrained by time while on the hike. We were dropped off at Mountain Lodge hotel by one pm. By then, we were famished.

Bridal Veil Falls seen from the parking lot
Bridal Veil Falls, as seen from the parking lot.

We stopped by The View Bar and Grill on-site to explore their lunch menu. They had a small outdoor kitchen set-up mostly for made-to-order burgers and tacos. We ordered a vegetarian version of the tacos and burgers and sat down to enjoy the exceptional view of the surroundings from the poolside deck. About 20 mins later, the staff brought us our tacos and burgers, and we wolfed them down rather quickly. The ingredients were fresh, and the lunch was very satisfying but not overly filling.

After a much-deserved siesta, we set off once again for Telluride. This time, our goal was to hike to the famed Bridal Veil Falls, the tallest free-falling waterfalls in Colorado, at 365 feet. The trail is rated as a moderate difficulty, runs about 4.8 miles to and back, and gains an elevation of about 1650 feet to the base of the falls. The falls are located in a box canyon to the east of town. There is a historic power plant located above the falls.

We drove past Telluride until we saw the signs for the Pandora Mill on the left. Past it, we saw the parking lot for the hike. We could see the falls in the distance, and it seemed a long way away. The parking lot was thrumming with activity. There are two ways to access the falls from the parking lot. The actual trail is well marked but winds through a wooded, more rugged terrain with rocks, trees, and boulders. The other is a dirt and gravel road that climbs steadily upwards to reach the base of the falls. This road is shared with traffic both ways, other hikers, bikers, and off-roading vehicles. High clearance, 4-WD vehicles are recommended for the car trip to the base of the falls.

Gravel and dirt access road to the falls
Gravel and dirt road to the base of the falls

After talking to a couple of other families that had finished their hike, we chose to take the actual hiking trail to the base of the falls and walk back along the road on the way down. One reason was that we felt the road would be safer and easier to walk down if we were late on the descent. That decided, we packed enough water, bug spray, sunscreen, and layered clothes and set out on an adventure.

The trail was well marked, with a constant flow of hikers both ways. People of all ages were on the trail, as well as their dogs and puppies. Some walked fast and confident like serious hikers, others like us maintained a steady pace, and still others were strolling, enjoying the journey as much as the destination.

The trail was very different from the Bear Creek Trail hike we had done earlier that week. The path twisted and turned constantly. The climb was steadily going upwards at all times. Often we were in the midst of trees and sometimes in open areas strewn with rocks and boulders. The terrain was rugged, and we were constantly climbing small and big rocks and pulling ourselves up. It was slow going in some places. But the hike was exhilarating. Just being outside in the clear air, trudging along, and taking short breaks before moving on, we kept gaining ground.

Lower Bridal Veil Falls
Lower Bridal Veil Falls, en route to the base

There are two smaller falls along the way: Lower Bridal Veil Falls and Zenny Falls. We stopped to enjoy the Lower Bridal Veil Falls while keeping an eye on the main prize. As we got closer to the actual falls, we could sense the power of the water spraying quite a distance over the rocks at the base of the falls. The closer we got, the spray was more significant. Moving as close as we could without getting too wet, we stood in awe of the majesty and potency of the falls.

The switchbacks on the gravel road meet the trail at this point. No vehicles are allowed past the base of the falls, But the road extends further upwards to the power plant at the top of the falls. After getting our fill of the falls, we slowly made our way up the road to the top. On their way down, aOn their way down, a group of young kids told us we had another hour or more of a walk to the top. With the day growing long, the boys were not enthusiastic about the long hike. After some enthusiastic debating, we decided to head back home.

Bridal Veil Falls, in all its glory
Bridal Veil Falls, in all its glory.

Small streams were flowing along the side of the road, and we stopped and enjoyed the view. In addition, the view from the top of the road into the valley below is incredible. Telluride lay comfortably nestled in the base of the valley. The traffic that we encountered on the road was not heavy at all. We passed a few cars, mostly going up. We saw a large family of hikers with grandkids, grandmother, aunts, and uncles slowly making their way to the top. The sun was out, but at that height, the weather was delightful. We enjoyed the view of the valley and the falls as often as we could, but there was little shade on this road, vastly different from the actual trail where trees shielded us from the sun. It took us about three hours to complete the trail. I was a bit miffed that we didn’t make it all the way to the top, but that hadn’t been n our original plan, so I have to make peace with it.

Here are a few tips for the hike: Start early; the parking lot is small and fills up quickly as this trail is a very popular hike. Pack for the hike with fluids, protein bars, clementines, a small headlamp, or flashlight (if hiking later in the day). Wear sturdy hiking boots. Dress in layers, wear sunscreen and bug spray, a good hat, and sunglasses. Interestingly, we didn’t see anyone use trekking poles on this trail. I wonder if they would help as much given the rugged nature of this terrain. Plan for a longer hike if walking to the top of the falls. Cars are not allowed from the base of the falls to the power plant at the top. Enjoy the views. Although the terrain was rough and rugged, the views were fantastic.

Let me leave you with a gorgeous view of the valley from the road on our way down.

View of the valley from the access road
Valley View from the road

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