Autumn Hike to South Willow Creek Falls in Colorado

Aspen leaves adorned the evergreen branches and scattered along the path much like rose petals at a fall wedding.

Autumn has arrived with gorgeous landscapes and football. When deciding on whether to hike on Saturday or watch the Colorado University vs. Washington State football game, my husband Danny and I chose the great outdoors. Washington was ahead 21-7 in the first quarter when we last checked.

We chose to hike the Mesa Cortina trail to South Willow Creek Falls just outside of Silverthorne, Colorado. The round trip distance of 8.75 miles was daunting. Pfft! Surely the waterfall would appear in the first mile or two. We would watch for the landmark of a large boulder to let us know we had arrived at our destination.

We started our hike late in the day, but we expected to be back by the 4th quarter of the game.

We were drawn in by autumn’s beauty and the curiosity of what was beyond the next turn.

It couldn’t be too far anyway.

“How far is the waterfall?”

“Twenty minutes or so.”

A half-hour later we met some people walking their dogs. I asked, “How much longer to the waterfall?”

“Twenty minutes.”

The shadows were getting longer.

And longer.

 NO ONE said, “Do you see those mountains out yonder? Well, the waterfall is up there on the right.”

Nor did this guy.

First I said, “Don’t shoot!” Roxy jumped backward at the sight of him and his face paint. Danny stepped on her foot and she yelped.

Then I asked, “How much further to the waterfall?”

“About twenty more minutes.” No lie. That’s what he said.

Was this the rock?

Or this one? I have no idea, but they were as blue as these photos.

We finally made it after two hours of hiking!

Danny and Roxy take a quick break.

The waterfall wasn’t very impressive, but we didn’t have a lot of time to explore. The sun was sinking fast, so we picked up the pace back to the car.

While scrambling back down the mountain, I got a call on my cell phone.

How was it possible to get cell service way out here?

My mom was screaming, “CU just won the game 35-34!” The last 10 minutes would have been fun to watch, but we would have missed all of this.

We assured her we would be careful and kept moving.

It’s official, time does fly with familiarity, hence the miscalculation of time. The trip back seemed so much faster.

We would arrive back at civilization, after a short jaunt through a spooky forest.

Complete with a spook!

The haunted month of October is just around the corner…There will be many more outdoor adventures along with a few missed football games.

Are you looking forward to October?

Click for more adventure, inspiration and wild stories.

Related posts:

Bike Hike to Bridal Veil Falls – Photo Essay with Altitude

Striking Gold – A Photo Essay

Going for Gold – Fall Photos

80 thoughts on “Autumn Hike to South Willow Creek Falls in Colorado

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  1. Great pictures, indeed. What a fun adventure! You have to make the most of this gorgeous autumn weather, which is my favorite time of the year. I’m not much of a snow-bunny so I’ll hike in the woods right through October if I can.


    1. Wow! Thanks so much Michael! I hope you are settling into Cali life. Fall here has been unbelievable for color, but we are now getting our first storm in a while. I can hear thunder rumbling outside….


  2. Nice Photo Essay… that was a lot of 20 minute hiking for that little piss-ass waterfall. Roxy looked real impressed… better not mention waterfalls when you drag her out for the next hike.


  3. I honestly get lost in your photos! I really felt like I should have been turning pages instead of scrolling down with this essay. I really enjoyed this piece.
    Roxy looked a tad tired…I’m sure the agent has already been on the phone demanding a spa treatment.


    1. Thanks so much! I am really getting into photography, but am limited by my cameras…One is my phone and the other is my compact Nikon Coolpix.
      I forgot one photo of Roxy off-leash since no one was on the trail on the way back. She looked disgusted because we couldn’t keep up with her! Hahaha!
      She was so filthy, Danny gave her a bath and only half the dirt came off! 🙂
      You’re right. I will call the spa today….


  4. Good choice – you had the score fed to you, anyway. The waterfall was a bit of a let-down, but then I suppose all are that. Our Victoria Falls is a let-down on a very large scale. Especially when the river is in flood.
    Are you quite sure that what sounded like ‘Twenty Minutes’ to you wasn’t something like ‘Tawentei min uts’ which is Mohican or Apachee or something for ‘One heck of a long way’?


    1. Tawentei min uts… Hahaha! I had a good belly laugh over that one! I can’t believe how many people told us that!
      I think we had a little bit of a hike to go to get to the more impressive part of the falls, but we ran out of daylight. I would say, “next time,” but we seldom hike in the same place. 🙂
      Thanks so much Colonist!


  5. Wow! Can I move in with you both, and Roxy of course. Haha! Right… I’m going for a long walk this coming weekend… I’m enthused with Autumn leafy inspiration thanks to your photos 😉


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