Hike Cataract Lake and Falls

Colorado Lower Cataract Lake Trailhead

Added by Amy Kesic

Cataract Lake and Falls is an easy day hike in the Gore Range. Enjoy a scenic lake and waterfall as well as wildflowers, wildlife, and an abundance of aspens, which will make for a stunning fall hike. This hike is appropriate for all ability levels, including children.

My husband and I heard about this hike while we were at a marriage retreat in nearby Dillon. This is the perfect casual day hike for a couple, small groups, or families with children. While we were there in May, just before the aspens were fully leafed out, it was easy to see that this location will be absolutely stunning in the fall. Summer is a good time to see wildflowers and wildlife. Though early in the season, we were treated to plenty of pasqueflowers, early aspen foliage, and a roaring waterfall.

The trail for Lower Cataract Lake is only about 2.1 miles with less than 200' elevation gain. Along the way you can see and hear Cataract Falls in the distance. While this trail does not access the falls, you will cross Cataract Creek, which has a nice cascade near the bridge.

Look for wildlife, as a family of beavers makes itself busy there. Plentiful willows in the marshy area are attractive to moose and elk. At the end of the lake nearest the parking lot, there's a bucolic picnic area near the shore, which is a great place to take in some refreshment and the scenery.

Even though it's a short hike, you'll want to have some snacks with you, since the nearest food establishments are in Silverthorne, nearly 45 minutes away. While in the area, check out Green Mountain Reservoir, a popular camping, fishing, and boating area.

Pack List

  • Water
  • Snacks (or picnic)
  • Mosquito repellant
  • Sunscreen
  • Hiking boots or trail shoes
  • Camera
  • Fishing gear
  • Kayak, canoe, or SUP
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Fishing, Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:



Year Round

Trail Type:



2.1 Miles

Elev. Gain:

200 Feet



Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Picnic Area

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How to Get There

30 days ago

Went here with my family, very nice place for a picnic.

The road to get to the trailhead is very narrow and sketchy, be aware. Very beautiful place, not too many people when I went. Would have liked to go see the waterfall up close.

30 days ago

2 months ago

Incredible hike

I've done this hike so many times I couldn't count them all. Absolutely love it. Very short, never too crowded, beautiful lake view, love the sound of the waterfall. It's just the perfect hike if you're looking for something easy and with no time commitment.

2 months ago

4 months ago

Beautiful Lake

This is a Great Lake to hike around in summer. Wildflowers are everywhere and it is never too crowded. If you go during the peak snow melt, the falls can be heard clear across the lake.

4 months ago

Added by Amy Kesic

A mom who decided to get fit a few years ago, I took up running and hiking to keep myself moving. Since moving to the Front Range foothills a year ago, I've spent my free time discovering all the trails I possibly can. I'm in love with Colorado and the Rocky Mountains; I also like to take pictures, and I share my adventures here on The Outbound and on Instagram at @run2themountains.

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