Want to try snowshoeing? Chasm Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park is a great choice for beginners. The trail is about 2.35 miles each way with just 550 feet of elevation gain.
The winter trail starts at the West Alluvial fan parking lot (directions below). When you arrive, you’ll see a road closed sign. That’s the trail to the falls. Depending on conditions, you may not need your snowshoes right away.
Past the gate, Endovalley Road is a wide road and that makes it an easy trail to follow. It’s mostly flat, but as you hike, look around and enjoy the views of the mountain peaks around you.
About one mile from the road closure, you’ll come to a second road closure and a sign for Old Fall River Road. In the summer, Old Fall River Road in a dirt, one-way road drivers take from the valley floor to the Alpine Visitor’s Center at the top of the park. In the winter, the road is closed to vehicles and perfect for people new to snowshoeing.
Now the snowshoeing gets harder for beginners. You’ll be climbing about 500 feet in the next 1.25 miles. The road even has two switchbacks on the way to the falls. When you take a break, make sure you look back down the scenic valley you came from.
2.25 miles from the West Alluvial parking lot, you’ll come to the sign for the Chasm Falls Trail. Now you have to decide if you have the ability to continue to the falls. The trail is steep and icy to the top of the falls, and it’s even steeper to the bottom of the falls. And remember, every step you take down is going to be harder on the way back up. There are some rocks next the top of the falls which made for a nice picnic spot when we visited.
When you’re done at the falls, head back to the road and retrace your steps.
Npte: When we did this trek in mid-February, we saw lots of people without snowshoes, but most of them did not go all the way to the falls.
Details: 4.7 miles roundtrip, with about 550 feet of elevation gain.
Directions: From Estes Park, take Highway 34 to the Fall River entrance. From the entrance gate, drive through Horseshoe Park and past Sheep Lakes to the Fall River Road/Alluvial Fan turnoff. Pass the Lawn Lake Trailhead, pass the East Alluvial Fan parking lot and park in the West Alluvial Fan parking lot.There is room for about 20 cars here depending on how much it has snowed.
If you’re looking for more great winter trails in Rocky Mountain National Park, consider trying Cub Lake and Mills Lake. For more great hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, the Indian Peak Wilderness and other places, click here.
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