Updated Maxwell Falls Trail Report
Maxwell Falls trail is a popular hiking trail near Evergreen, Colorado. Unfortunately, it’s a very popular trail. The trail is crowded and parking can be difficult. Fortunately, I was prepared for both. I arrived at the trailhead before 7:00 AM on Saturday, June 27, 2020. I hiked the trail again on August 7, 2021. The parking lot was already starting to fill up (both times), but there was still plenty of parking available. If I arrived much later though, I would have needed to park on the road.
To reach the trailhead, turn southwest on South Brook Forrest road from Colorado Highway 73. The intersection is a short distance south of Evergreen Lake. Drive 3.6 miles on Brook Forrest road. There will be two parking lots on the left. The lots are next to each other so either one will do. The trailhead is at the first lot.
The hike to the falls from the lower trailhead is about four miles round trip. The difficulty will depend on the hiker’s physical conditioning. For most people, I would rate the difficulty as easy to moderate. There were many young children on the trail and they didn’t seem to be struggling. The trail starts uphill, then goes downhill, then uphill again so be aware that portions of the hike will be uphill going out and coming back.
On my Aug 2021 hike, I used the Alltrails GPS app on my Android phone. The app is free as long as you have a cell phone signal on the trail. There is a cell phone signal at Maxwell Falls. For other trails, if there is no cell phone signal, you will need to pay an annual subscription to download offline maps. Since there was a signal, Alltrails showed me exactly where I was on the trail and it let me know when I was at the falls for free.
Since I started early, it was cool going out and warm coming back (both times). Most of the trail is in the shade so it wasn’t too warm on either hike.
There are a couple of loops and side trails. I decided to stay on the main trail and hike directly to the falls. About halfway up, there will be a fork in the trail. When you get to the fork, take the right fork. The left fork will be a distinct turn to the left, the right fork is mostly straight. The left fork will say Upper Maxwell Falls, the right fork will say Cliffside Loop. Don’t let the signs fool you. Follow the metal Cliffside Loop trail sign. After the first sign, there will be wood signs directing you to Maxwell Falls. Follow the wooden signs to Maxwell Falls.
Keep following the signs to the Falls. The falls are really easy to miss as you can’t see the falls from the main trail. The trail will continue past the falls. You are at the falls when the trail takes a sharp turn to the right and reverses direction. I hiked the trail several years ago and missed the falls entirely. You will need to step off the main trail to see the falls from the top. When you step off the main trail, you will encounter cliffs and boulders so be careful.
I decided not to do the entire loop. When I reached the falls, I took some photos and headed back.
On the way back down, I saw a sign directing hikers to the falls. I missed the sign on my way up. On my second hike, I was looking for it but missed it again. The sign is on the left as you are headded up. The sign is immediately before the trail turns to the right. The falls can be reached from the side trail. Follow the side trail for a 100 yards and you should be able to see the falls from the bottom. The trail going to the bottom of the falls is very steep and rocky. Inexperienced hikers may have difficulty walking down to the falls and climbing back up to the main trail.
Total hiking time for me was about five hours but I am a very, very slow hiker. Most people should be able to do the hike much quicker than me.
Maxwell Falls is a really beautiful hike but don’t expect a really big waterfall. People before me described the falls as a trickle. It was a little more than a trickle, but not much.
If you don’t mind crowded trails, I highly recommend the hike. I do NOT recommend Maxwell Falls if you expect solitude. The trail was very crowded when I went on my hikes. Lots of people and dogs of all sizes. Large dogs to Chihuahuas and toy poodles. Your dog will probably enjoy the hike and meeting other dogs.