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Family hike in Colorado Springs: Helen Hunt Falls & Silver Falls

Helen Hunt Falls
Helen Hunt Falls
Deb Stanley

I love waterfalls and on this hike of less than a mile you get to see two waterfalls! The trail is in Cheyenne Canyon, on the southwest side of Colorado Springs (directions below).

Helen Hunt Falls
Deb Stanley

At the parking lot, take just a few steps and you'll be at Helen Hunt Falls, a 30-foot waterfall near the road. While the traffic noise and crowds can detract from the waterfall, I came early in the morning (7:30 a.m. on a Saturday in April) and found just one photographer taking pictures.

The falls are named for Helen Hunt, the poet/novelist/activist, not the actress. This Helen Hunt wrote under the pen name H.H. in the 1800s. She's probably best known for her novel, Ramona, which has been turned into a play performed in Hemet, California every summer since the 1920s.

After photographing Helen Hunt Falls, it's time for a climb. The sign in the parking lot says tells visitors that while Silver Falls is 1/3 mile away (my GPS registered .4 miles to the overlook). The trail is considered moderate to difficult because of the loose gravel, stairs and elevation gain.

When you're ready, start up the stone steps to the top of Helen Hunt Falls. At the bridge over the falls, take a breather and enjoy being on top of the falls. Then turn around and enjoy the cascade that feeds Helen Hunt Falls.

After a break, start up the next section of stairs to a dirt path. As you walk the path, you'll see more of the creek that feeds Helen Hunt Falls and its cascades below. If you get out of breath, just tell your companions that you need a "photo stop." This is my favorite park of the hike because you get to hear the cascades as the water cascades over the rocks.

About a quarter mile from the parking lot, you'll come to a bench with a view of the surrounding valley. You can take a break, but then there's some more climbing. You'll know you're getting close when you see three benches and a sign that talks about Buffalo Creek. Buffalo Creek is the creek that feeds Silver Falls. Lower in the valley it merges with North Cheyenne Creek, which creates Helen Hunt Falls.

By now you should start seeing the steep rock face that Silver Cascades cascade down. Continue up to the top of the falls, across a small bridge and out to an overlook. Here you'll get the best view of the cascades. Over time, the water has carved curves into the rock and in some places you may even see the water spurting/jumping up in a spot where it hits a hole or embedded rock.

The falls may or may not be very strong because they are fed by rain and snowmelt.

When you're done taking pictures of the waterfall and canyon, return the way you came.

In the area, if you're up for a longer hike, don't miss Saint Mary's Falls. Get more hiking ideas in this article of 200+ hikes in Colorado Springs and around the state. Don't miss any of my trip reports, sign up for an email alert by clicking on subscribe at the top of this page.

Details: The hike to the Silver Falls overlook and back is about 0.8 miles with 260 feet of elevation gain.

Directions: From I-25, take exit 140/Tejon Street and drive south. About 0.3 miles from the highway, Tejon splits. Turn right on Cheyenne Blvd. Stay on Cheyenne Blvd to the entrance of the Starsmore Discovery Center. Turn right into the canyon and drive about 2.7 miles to the Helen Hunt Falls trailhead, right on the road. There is limited parking and it can get full during the day.