Four Mile Falls/Anderson Trail Loop
ElevationAscent: 3,256' 993 m
Descent: -3,253' -991 m
High: 11,543' 3,518 m
Low: 8,980' 2,737 m
GradeAvg Grade: 9% (5°)
Max Grade: 43% (23°)
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“This long day loop provides some beautiful scenery!”— Jason Groves
Features Birding · Commonly Backpacked · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Spring · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife
At the 0.75 mile mark, there is another small stream crossing, and the trail enters an open meadow with beautiful views of the southern San Juan mountains. The trail levels out and continues to make its way through the forest with some minor ups and downs and places where you can catch views of the surrounding peaks and, after a couple of miles, glimpses of the two upcoming waterfalls.
About 3 miles in, you'll come to the base of the first of the two waterfalls. It is a tall, beautiful cascade on your left that mists as the breeze blows it, and rainbows abound.
Cross the creek and begin the steep, loose rock covered climb up the trail on the far side. A short ways up, the trail will come to a Y; continue straight to go to the bottom of the falls (almost all of the regular foot traffic stops here and heads back making the falls their out and back destination) or go to the right and continue up the steep slog to continue on to the top of the second falls and eventually Four Mile Lake.
This section is very steep with very poor footing, so be very careful! This is also the beginning of nearly four miles of constant uphill running with a few level places to catch your breath. The trail follows a stream bed at times; pick your way through and watch for cairns. There are multiple beautiful places near the creek where others have set up camp and left fire rings near the top of the second falls.
Four Mile Lake is found about 6 miles in from the trailhead, I would love to write more detail about the trail there but I didn't notice as much as I would have liked as I was continually gasping for air and cursing due to the relentless elevation gain!
Past the lake along the Anderson Trail, the trail levels out for a bit and even noses downhill for a bit before climbing back up for another mile and a half or so with beautiful views of Pagosa Peak along the way. Then it is four plus miles of relentless downhill switchbacks after peaking out at 11,000 feet. Depending on the time of year, runners will enjoy beautiful fall colors and may encounter bears along the way!
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