Fourmile Falls (Weminuche Wilderness)

  • Rating: Moderate

  • Distance: 6 miles (out and back) 

  • Elevation

    • Trailhead: 9200 feet

    • Gain: 720 feet (one way), 1080 feet (round trip)

    • Falls:  9,590 feet

  • Road Status: Fourmile Road (FR645)

  • Trail: Fourmile (569) 

  • Trailhead Directions (13.2 miles north of Pagosa Springs)

  • Trail Map

  • Notes: Fairly easy hike except you have to climb 200 vertical feet over the last half mile to get back to the parking area.  Stream crossing will be impassable during early summer.

Fourmile Falls is one of the most popular day hikes near Pagosa Springs due to it's close proximity to town and the stunning scenery.  The San Juan Mountains are covered in majestic waterfalls due to the sheer vertical volcanic cliff bands that surround the summits like fortresses.  Fourmile Falls plunges over a 200-foot cliff composed of pyroclastic material, remnants of a destructive volcanic history.  Today, winter avalanches rush over the cliffs ripping trees from the ground and depositing them on the verdant valley floor.  The Fourmile Watershed provides uptown Pagosa Springs with drinking water via a diversion to Lake Hatcher.

Fourmile Trail and Anderson Trail both begin at the same parking lot at the end of Fourmile Road.  The 1st parking area that you encounter is mainly for horse trailers.  Bypass the 1st parking area and drive just a little further to the upper parking area at the end of the road.  There are pit toilets in both parking areas.  Take Fourmile Trail instead of the Anderson Trail to access the falls.

Ironically, Fourmile Falls is 3 miles from the trailhead rather than 4.  From the Fourmile Trailhead, the trail drops about 200 feet in elevation, and after crossing 2 streams, begins to parallel Fourmile Creek.  In early August the trail is loaded with wild raspberries, but be careful because they are intermixed with toxic twinberry and baneberry.  Just after mile 1, there's an unmarked trail junction.  Take the left fork rather than the outfitter trail to the right.  The grade is moderate, but the high elevation may add difficulty if you're not acclimated. About halfway to the falls, you'll have to cross a fairly large tributary that may be impassible at during May and early June.  The last half mile of the approach will offer glimpses of the falls as you cross winter avalanche paths that originate on slopes towering above the trail.

As you approach the falls, it's confusing because the trail forks.  Take the left fork and climb towards the falls as opposed to taking a well-worn path that dead ends at Falls Creek and some serious deadfall.  You'll climb briefly and then have to cross Falls Creek.  Once you cross Falls Creek, the trail climbs steeply toward the elevation of Fourmile Falls. The trail splits again - left provides direct access to the falls, right continues to climb steeply toward the Fourmile Lake (3 miles further).  During a good snow year, you will get drenched in mist if you choose to walk to the base of the falls.

The mainstem of Fourmile Creek has an even more impressive waterfall (more volume, less drop), which can be viewed by continuing up the trail for another third of a mile. 

 
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