“A stiff climb leads to gorgeous waterfall views and the historic Chief Ouray Mine!”
— Caroline Cordsen
Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildlife
Starting from the Amphitheater Campground, the trail rises through dense forests teeming with wildlife. Every step of the way, sheer views of the Amphitheater dominate the skyline beyond the trees.
Follow this route until its junction with the Portland Trail #238
, then veer left to stay on the trail to the upper falls and the Chief Ouray Mine. The grade steepens at this point, switchbacks pulling you higher up into Cascade Mountain. Nearing the summit, and the panoramic views of the Sneffels Range, a tight shelf cut into the cliffside brings you to the home stretch. Topping out at just over 10,000 feet, Chief Ouray Mine comes into view across Cascade Creek Gorge.
Losing ground, the final leg follows the earth’s contours as they wrap the south side of the gorge, searching for easier terrain to cross Cascade Creek. Finding its entry at upper Cascade Falls, one final climb continues on up to what remains of the bunkhouse. Passing through the rotting and graffiti-laden remnants, the route ends at the gated mine.