Granite Falls, Green Mountain Trailhead, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Granite Falls - 10.3 miles
Green Mountain Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||10.3 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||8,794' - 9,785' (9,785' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+991' net elevation gain (+1,094' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Granite Falls - 10.3 Miles Round-Trip
Granite Falls is accessible from the Green Mountain Trailhead on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park. The falls fan out over three tiers and several large boulders accessible from the trail. Visitors will enjoy mild grades, tranquil forests, a stop at Big Meadows, excellent wildlife viewing, and numerous backcountry campsites on the hike to Granite Falls:
The Green Mountain Trail heads east on moderate grades through a heavy fir-forest and lush understory. Peripheral meadows are ideal places to see moose and elk. Travel quickens on level grades to the edge of Big Meadows, Lower Tonahutu Trail split, and Big Meadows Backcountry Campsite (1.8 miles : 9,397').
Follow signs left on a level path for 1.2 miles around the northwest side of Big Meadows. Big Meadows is an immense, marshy expanse ideal for seeing wildlife and enjoying sheer open space.
A number of spurs provide easy access to the meadow's open perimeter. The trail wraps west to the northeast edge of Big Meadows and resumes travel in a thick fir-lodgepole forest (3.0 miles : 9,441').
The trail reaches Tonahutu Creek (3.35 miles : 9,446'), which you'll closely follow for the next 3.45 miles. The trail rises nominally to a spur for Sunset Backcountry Campsite (3.8 miles : 9,495'), just past which the forest breaks with access to a long oxbow in the creek. Sunrise Backcountry Campsite is located on the east side of this meadow (4.05 miles : 9,511').
The trail undulates in a thick, mixed forest through 4.5 miles (9,565'), then steepens on a rougher path to Lower Granite Falls Backcountry Campsite (5.05 miles : 9,748') and Granite Falls (5.2 miles : 9,785').
Granite Falls fan out and tumble about 20' before narrowing through a series of forceful chutes. A short, steep scramble leads down to outcrops with up-close views on the water's edge.
The trail switchbacks over the falls to Granite Falls Backcountry Campsite (5.35 miles : 9,921'), located on the edge of a large, wet sedge meadow, another good place to look for moose.
- N40 18.440 W105 50.464 — 0.0 miles : Green Mountain Trailhead
- N40 18.572 W105 49.974 — .5 miles : Reach 1st of many large meadows on this trail
- N40 18.610 W105 49.457 — 1.0 miles : Mild travel through fir-lodgepole forest
- N40 18.588 W105 48.772 — 1.7 miles : Green Mountain Backcountry Campsite
- N40 18.656 W105 48.718 — 1.8 miles : West edge of Big Meadows, bend north
- N40 19.124 W105 48.762 — 2.35 miles : Split for Onahu Creek Trailhead - keep rt
- N40 19.417 W105 48.220 — 3.0 miles : Reach far east end of Big Meadows
- N40 19.227 W105 47.929 — 3.5 miles : Mild grades in mixed forest
- N40 19.280 W105 47.681 — 3.8 miles : Sunset Backcountry Campsite
- N40 19.353 W105 47.469 — 4.05 miles : Sunrise Backcountry Campsite
- N40 19.357 W105 47.036 — 4.5 miles : Undulating climb in upper montane forest
- N40 19.150 W105 46.515 — 5.05 miles : Lower Granite Falls Backcountry Campsite
- N40 19.121 W105 46.377 — 5.15 miles : Granite Falls
- N40 19.185 W105 46.265 — 5.35 miles : Granite Falls Backcountry Campsite
- Granite Falls are steep and swift. Maintain a safe distance from the falls and slick rocks that line it.
- The west side of Rocky Mountain National Park receives a foot or more of rain per year than the east side of the Park. As a result, west side trails are generally more verdant than east side trails.
- You may continue on from Granite Falls to Haynach Lakes, or up the Continental Divide to Flattop Mt.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- A permit is required for all backcountry camping in Rocky Mountain National Park. Permits may be obtained from the Beaver Meadows Visitors Center Backcountry Office, or the Kawuneeche Visitor Center at Grand Lake. Day-of-trip permits may be obtained in-person, year round.
- Reservations may be secured by mail or in person anytime after March 1 for a permit to be used in that calendar year. Phone reservations are accepted from March 1 - May 15, and anytime after October 1 for a permit in that calendar year.
- Backcountry Campsites for Big Meadows, Granite Falls, and Haynach Lakes:
Big Meadows Backcountry Group Site (9,405')
- The Big Meadows Backcountry Group Site is located 1.9 miles from the Green Mountain Trailhead on the west edge of Big Meadows. The site is located in a stand of mixed pine that looks out over the meadows. 1 site and a privy is available.
- Sunset Backcountry Campsite Site (9,505')
- The Sunset Backcountry Campsite is located 3.8 miles from the Green Mountain Trailhead. A wood footbridge leads south over the creek to the site, located near the bank in a stand of mixed pine. 1 site is available.
- Sunrise Backcountry Campsite (9,527')
- The Sunset Backcountry Campsite is located 4.05 miles from the Green Mountain Trailhead. The site is located north of the trail over a pine-ringed meadow with an oxbow stream. 1 site is available.
- Lower Granite Falls Backcountry Campsites (9,747')
- The Lower Granite Falls Backcountry Campsite is located 5.05 miles from the Green Mountain Trailhead. The sites are located in a forested area along Tonahutu Creek. The sites are .1 miles downstream from Granite Falls. 2 sites are available.
- Granite Falls Backcountry Campsites (9,921')
- The Granite Falls Backcountry Campsites are located 5.35 miles from the Green Mountain Trailhead. The sites are located north of the trail in a spruce-fir forest on the west edge of a wet sedge meadow. The sites are .2 miles upstream from Granite Falls. 2 sites are available.
- Tonahutu Meadows Backcountry Campsites (10,050')
- The Tonahutu Meadows Backcountry Campsites are located 6.1 miles from the Green Mountain Trailhead. The sites are located in a spruce-fir stand between Tonahutu Meadows and Tonahutu Creek on the south side of the trail. 2 sites are available.
- Tonahutu Group and Stock Backcountry Campsite (10,160')
- The Tonahutu Group and Stock Backcountry Campsite is located 6.6 miles from the Green Mountain Trailhead. The site is located in a heavy spruce-fir forest on the banks of Tonahutu Creek. 1 site and a privy is available.
- Haynach Backcountry Campsites (includes Llama Site) (10,678')
- The Haynach Backcountry Campsites are located 7.2 miles from the Green Mountain Trailhead on the Haynach Lakes Trail. The sites are located in a spruce-fir glade on the edge of a meadow, just east of Haynach Creek. The sites are .5 miles north of the Tonahutu Trail split. 2 sites are available (permit required for Llama stock).
- Camp safely away from dead trees, as close as possible to the silver metal arrowhead posted at each site. Red arrowheads on trees provide additional guidance to each campsite from the main trail.
Rules and Regulations
- There is a $20 entrance fee per vehicle to enter Rocky Mountain National Park.
- Dogs are not allowed on backcountry trails in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Directions to Trailhead
Granite Falls is accessed from the Green Mountain Trailhead on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park. The Green Mountain Trailhead is located 38.8 miles from the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station on the east side of Highway 34.
Follow signs for Trail Ridge Road from the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station. Remain on this road for 38.8 miles to the Green Mountain Trailhead. Note that Trail Ridge Road becomes Highway 34 once over the Continental Divide.
Rocky Mountain National Park