Silver Falls

Round Trip Distance: 0.4 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 8209 - 8391 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 30 mins.
Trailhead: Silver Falls Guard Station
Fee: none
Attractions: Scenic waterfall

Silver Falls is located along the East Fork of the San Juan River, east of Pagosa Springs, Colorado, in the San Juan National Forest. The trail to the scenic waterfall is less than a quarter mile in length and only takes 10 or 15 minutes to hike but you need to add a couple more hours for getting to and from the trailhead from Pagosa Springs. The drive up the beautiful East Fork Canyon is well worth the trip all by itself.

To get there drive east from Pagosa Springs on Highway 160 for 10 miles and turn right onto Forest Road #667, the East Fork Road. At present there isn't a sign along the highway that marks the turn so slow down as you get close to the 10 mile point so you don't miss it. Once you turn off of the highway you will see all the signs in this photo.

Under dry conditions the road is okay for 2wd passenger vehicles for the first 6 miles or so before a high clearance vehicle is recommended.

There are 2 fords where creeks cross the road. This is what the deepest one looked like in mid July. It was nothing that a careful driver with 2wd couldn't easily manage. Other than this there are quite a few puddles and chuck holes that you will have to slow down for or drive around but all in all it was a nice drive.

The Silver Falls Guard Station will be on the left side of the road. If there is room you can drive up the hill and park or better yet keep going for another couple hundred feet and you will find the official trailhead.

From the official trailhead the route passes by an outhouse, which was surprisingly clean, and continues up the hill behind the guard station.

After a few hundred feet there is a gate that will get you through the fence.

The trail is primitive in nature and braided with multiple routes that all lead up to the falls. Some routes are better than others but the gist of it is just to head up the mountain along side of the creek.

Right before you reach the base of the falls the trail gets a little steeper and can become slippery from the mist spaying off of the rocks as the falls cascades down the cliff.

The earlier you come in the summer the more water there will be and the bigger the falls will appear. After an initial plunge Silver Falls forms a fan for its next drop followed by a cascading scree as it continues down the mountain.

The mist from the cascading water creates a thriving environment for the monkeyflowers, coneflowers, ferns and grasses. The monkeyflowers are the yellow 'manyflowered' variety and if you get a close look you will see an amazing pattern of red dots in the middle of the flower.

There are quite a few free primitive campsites along the East Fork of the San Juan River for both tents and RVs. Right at the 1 mile point from Highway 160 is the East Fork Campground which has sites that can be reserved online as well as some non-reservable first come first served sites. It is one of our most favorite places to camp. Other trails in the area include the Quartz Creek, Quartz Ridge, Treasure Mountain and and Sand Creek trails. Those that have the time to make the drive up East Fork Canyon should find the short hike up to Silver Falls a great something to do to cap off the trip. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.