Waterfall hikes in Crested Butte: Lake Irwin Falls (Photos)



Deb StanleyDenver Post

August 11, 2013

Lake Irwin is a popular destination with campers and fishermen, but few people know about the waterfalls. Lake Irwin has two waterfalls/cascades just below the spillway on an unmarked trail (directions below).

The lady at the visitor center had simple directions for us – drive across the spillway, park in the small parking lot on the other side and take the trail below the spillway. Now, a spillway waterfall doesn’t sound very impressive, but she said while the falls are below the spillway, they are not part of the spillway. She also had one more piece of advice — she warned us the trail is a bit steep.

We crossed the spillway, found the small parking lot and found an unmarked dirt trail leading right out of the center of the parking lot into the trees. There wasn’t much water coming over the spillway, so we weren’t expecting much. We saw the water cascading down a creek-like bed and weren’t impressed. But just a few more steps away, we changed our mind.

The first waterfall is very pretty. It’s a drop of about 10 feet over a dark, rocky cliff. Depending on when you visit, the water will hopefully be flowing over the edge in more than one spot. We took a couple photos from the top of the falls and headed down the trail a little more. Suddenly we spotted a social trail to the bottom of the falls. Don’t take the first social trail, it looks dangerous. Look closely and hopefully you’ll find a trail that is not too steep and leads to the bottom. It was quite fun being so close to the falls. We took photos from the front of the falls and the side of the falls. Look closely at the falls and you should see lots of green moss. This is a nice spot to spend a few minutes enjoying the sounds of the falls and all the different ways the water flows and bounces over the rocks.

When you’re done exploring, return to the main trail and continue walking down the path to a second waterfall. The second waterfall has a 15-foot drop, then several cascades. I highly recommend NOT climbing down to the bottom of this waterfall. All of the trails here are very steep, slippery and dangerous. However, you should be able to get nice shots of the falls from the main trail.

While there are lots of social trails in the area, we turned around after the second falls and hiked back up the hill to our vehicle.

In the area, you may want to check out the Oh-Be-Joyful waterfall and Judd Falls. If you want more hikes, check out this list of 200+ great hikes in Colorado.

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