Features: Birding — Fall Colors — River/Creek — Spring — Views — Waterfall — Wildflowers — Wildlife
To get to this trail, park in the last lot past Helen Hunt Falls. Take Upper Gold Camp Road (1.5 mi.) from the parking area. This is a sandy utility road that is open to two-wheeled motorized vehicles and ATVs. Motorized vehicles are allowed until it reaches Pike National Forest boundaries. From there, only equestrians, hikers, and bikers are allowed. It is well-traveled and can be used to get to many trailheads.
Access to Gold Camp Road will end at the closed tunnel. From there, take the feeder trail on the left. This feeder trail ascends up and around to the right, above the tunnel. Before long, is the trailhead for St. Mary Falls.
St. Mary Falls Trail (Trail #624) is open to hikers, bikers, and equestrians. Camping along the trails is permitted, but not within 300 ft. of the stream. Campfire permits are not required, and you'll see evidence of extinguished campfires along this trail.
This trail rambles through timbers of spruce, aspen and mixed pines alongside Buffalo Canyon Creek. The sound of the bubbling water flowing over rocks and pooling is harmonious with the rustle of the leaves and cheeping of the birds due to being near water. This part of the trail is fairly easygoing and will carry you to the bottom of the falls. Additionally, there are many side trails leading to the creek for great photo ops.
At the bottom of the falls, a signpost will guide you to the right. Continue along this path to get to the top of the trail for the falls. At this point, the trail will ascend more quickly with larger granite obstacles to overcome on the more moderate terrain. At the top of the rise, the path will make its way along the ridge until it reaches the falls. At this point, there are some logs that have been made into benches to respect other trail users and allow waiting for photo ops.
Most runners turn back at the falls, but St. Mary Falls Trail (Trail #624) continues on. The signpost guides to the summit of Mount Rosa. Continue along the trail, and be on the lookout for cairns to stay on the course. A topo map and compass or the Trail Run Project mobile app
are helpful if unsure. The incline from here gets steep abruptly, and the terrain gets rather rocky with possible scrambling.
Upon reaching the ridgeline, the trail evens out for about a mile and travels through heavy forest and toward a flowing spring. Upon crossing the small spring there is one final vertical trek to FSR 381. Upon reaching the end of the trail, there are no markers, only a bit of fencing.
Timbers include spruce, aspen, and mixed pine.