Hiking season has begun! The trails are finally dry (well, at least 97% dry), and there have been many sunny days that beckon me outside.
Today, there was rain in the forecast for the afternoon (and then the rest of the week), so I wanted to squeeze in a hike before it was too late. The Willow Creek Falls Trail was perfect, and God kept the rain clouds away until I finished the hike.
I would totally recommend this hike!
It starts off through the old fire area in Wildernest from last year. You can still smell the burnt wood, but it’s encouraging to see new growth in flowers and hear birds singing. As you hike, you walk a bit through a regular forest and then hit a fork – follow the fork to Willow Creek Falls via Gore Range Trail 60.
Shortly after, you run into a rock field. Go straight across and you will see a trail on the other side. I wish this was marked a little better. Then you’ll hike downhill for at least a half a mile to a mile. It’s a little strain on your knees, but you can smile because you are going downhill for now. 😉
There is a great deal of snow melt right now, and so there is one beautiful section with a lot of streams and small falls. Someone was so kind as to set up several logs in order to stay dry, but it is quite a maze to navigate and a little muddy for now.
After a while, you intersect with the Gore trail, and so just follow the arrow to “Falls” that someone scratched in. For me, that meant, turn left. Then, it’s just a very slight climb for about a mile up to the falls.
You will hear the falls before you arrive. They are so powerful and really raging right now. Just veer off the trail to the left and get as close as you can. You can feel the mist and the cool temps from the water. I took some photos and then spotted another hiker scrambling/bouldering up to get above the falls.
I had to follow suit, and I’m so glad I did. There were so many different layers of the falls, and I kept climbing and climbing, pausing to appreciate and record each level. I finally found a spot towards the top, took off my backpack to rest and enjoyed the best picnic spot around!
I really couldn’t believe my view. I was all alone, which was thrilling on one hand, but kept me a bit cautious for animals. The rain clouds were threatening, so I also felt like I had to hurry. But I made sure to relax and soak in as much of the scenery as I could.
It’s always hard for me to leave such beauty.
On my way down from the upper falls, I just followed the trail – it’s actually the Gore Range #60 trail – instead of trying to scramble down. Much safer, and shortly intersects with the main trail.
So, if you’re hiking this trail during “spring/early summer” – here are a couple recommendations:
- Bring plenty of water and snacks. It’s a little over 5 miles.
- Consider having someone drop you off, as parking is limited at the Wildernest Lily Pad Lake Trailhead. (thanks, Juliette!)
- Consider bringing hiking poles/walking sticks – there is a very long stretch of steep rocks/trail which is challenging both ways.
- There are mosquitos right now – either wear bug spray, or just keep moving.
- Plan to stay a while at the waterfall and explore up and around it. There are plenty of large rocks to picnic on and enjoy the Gore Range.
- There are a few sections of mud, but I was able to skirt around them.
- Look out for some cairns along the way – they help navigate some of the trickier sections
And take lots of photos and videos. The views are amazing and memorable. Let me know if you are able to hike this trail!