Want to see a waterfall without a big hike? Silver Falls, near Pagosa Springs, is a great choice. The hike is less than a mile roundtrip, but expect a bumpy ride to get there.
Silver Falls is about 18 miles from Pagosa Springs (directions below). The hike starts next to the Silver Falls guard station -- an old Forest Service cabin that was available for rent, but was listed as closed on the Forest Service website in June 2014. There’s room for a couple vehicles next to the building.
To start the hike, find the small trail on the right side of the house. The trail is unmarked and a bit faint, but you should see it. The trail goes up to a fence and through an opening. The trail heads for the creek and you’ll likely hear it before you see it, depending on the water flow. Hike up through the trees, following the trail by the creek.
When you see the first cascades, don’t stop. Even when the trail gets steep, keep going until you see the top of the falls, where it cascades from the top of the ridgeline.
Silver Falls is beautiful. There’s a drop at the top where the water cuts through the ridge, fans out and lands on a shelf. There’s a second drop that is split into two drops by a large rock. From there, the falls continue cascading down the steep creek bed. You can go up to the bottom of the top cascade, but be very careful. The trail is steep and dangerous due to the number of rocks. I found myself sliding several times on the way back down due to the loose rock.
Details: The hike to Silver Falls and back is about a third of a mile with 135 feet of elevation gain, depending on how high you go.
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Directions: From Pagosa Springs, take Highway 160 north about 10 miles to East Fork Road/Road 667. Turn right and drive eight miles to the Silver Falls Guard Station and trailhead. This road has rocky spots and several creek crossings. I highly recommend a SUV or truck with some clearance for this drive.