Maxwell Falls in Evergreen is a nice hike no matter what time of year you go. However, this hike always seems like the ideal winter hike, for some reason the snow conditions and the trail always seems to be in ideal shape during the winter, just enough snow, almost always packed just right to just hike with hiking boots, only once have I found the snow deep enough to snow shoe it. (but this is Colorado so, it just depends on the recentness of the last big snowfall)
In winter, you'll probably find a frozen ice fall instead of a waterfall, and being winter you should plan for varied trekking conditions and plan for adapting as needed.
While the Forest Service rates the hike as "easiest," the trail is far from flat. Hikers starts at 7,800 feet, climb to a 5 way trail split at 8,266 feet, then drop back down to a bridge over Maxwell Creek before climbing again to the falls at 8,400 feet. Expect about 1,000 feet in elevation on the trail out and back.
The trail itself varies its single track, double track, sometimes jeep road through a thick forest. While there are many sunny, open spots, most of the trail is under tree cover.
The trail from the lower trailhead to Maxwell Falls is 2 miles each way. There is usually some sparse water even in winter, lots of snow for the dogs to romp in and plenty of things to sniff along the way. Even though there might be water, don't count on it, please bring water for yourself and your dog(s) and some snacks.
The trailhead for Maxwell Falls is just 4.5 miles from downtown Evergreen. From the the intersection of Highways 74 and 73, take Highway 73 south 0.9 miles to Brook Forest Road. Turn right and drive 3.6 miles to the Lower Maxwell Falls trailhead on your left. (As you make your right turn onto Brook Forest Rd., keep track of your mileage. Although there is a sign at the trailhead saying Lower Maxwell Falls, it’s hard to see it from the road while you’re driving at highway speeds.) At the trailhead, there is room for about 14-15 cars during summer but less if it's snowed in during winter.
MEETING AREA - Where: We will meet at the park and ride STEGOSAURUS LOT - Morrison exit 259 on I70. Lot is on the South East corner of I70 and Highway 26. Directly across the road from the Mathew Winters park exit on highway 26. << Click for MAP (http://maps.google.com/maps?q=1100-1118+State+Highway+26+%2C+Golden%2C+CO) >>
WHEN: 8:00 AM
WHY: so we can car pool (or not) to the actual Trail Head parking lot in Evergreen, depending on the conditions. Parking is limited at the trail head and conditions will vary, I've seen it clean with dirt showing or snowed in with 12-14 inches of snow to the point that 4 wheel drive is needed to navigate the pakring area. Because I don't beleive the forest service maintains the parking lot during the winter, we won't know what conditions will be like until the hiking date comes around, it's probably best to meet first and decide if we need car pool to the actual trail head parking lot in Evergreen.
To find us, look for Frisco, he's our black, white and brown Australian Shepherd.
* 15 minute rule will be in effect.
* Please be courteous to others and only RSVP if you really can make it.
Hope to see you there!