Green Mountain Falls, Colorado: Attractions and Activities

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Known for its abundant hiking trails, scenic vistas, and preserved historic charm, this small mountain community of less than 700 residents offers visitors an intimate escape into nature with small-town hospitality.

Green Mountain Falls provides easy access to outdoor adventures in Pike National Forest while still retaining its 19th-century identity as a mountain resort town. From scenic drives along the Gold Camp Road to hiking among wildflowers in Catamount Trail, Green Mountain Falls lets you immerse yourself in the natural splendor of Colorado’s high country.

TL;DR

  • Green Mountain Falls is a charming 19th-century mountain town near Colorado Springs surrounded by hiking trails and scenic wilderness
  • Visitors can explore waterfalls, scenic overlooks, historic landmarks, and abundant outdoor recreation opportunities
  • The town retains its quaint, small-town atmosphere with local shops and eateries

Scenic Beauty and Outdoor Recreation Define Green Mountain Falls

Tucked into the southern edge of Pike National Forest, Green Mountain Falls is completely enveloped by nature, with 96 percent of the town lying within the national forest. From the town’s vantage point at over 8,000 feet elevation, you can access miles of hiking trails leading deep into the forest.

Surrounded by the lush Catamount and Crystal Creek watersheds, Green Mountain Falls lives up to its name with cascading waterfalls and babbling brooks throughout. The town is centered around a picturesque pond filled with mountain runoff, where visitors can fish for trout or simply sit and enjoy the tranquil views.

For avid hikers, some of the best trails in the region start right from downtown Green Mountain Falls. The Catamount Trail, in particular, gains over 1,700 feet in elevation as it winds through meadows filled with wildflowers toward a panoramic mountain view. From the towering granite formations of Devil’s Playground to the lush forests of Ute Pass Trail and Pittman Trail, hikers of all abilities can find a rewarding hiking trail.

And for those looking for a scenic drive, the Gold Camp Road delivers jaw-dropping vistas as it navigates over 37 miles of twists and turns from Victor to Cripple Creek. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this route packs Rocky Mountain beauty into every curve.

Historic Charm in an Intimate Mountain Setting

As an incorporated town since 1880, Green Mountain Falls has retained much of its original identity from the late 19th and early 20th century when it first attracted tourists as a mountain resort destination. Many structures from this pioneering era still stand today as bed and breakfast inns, restaurants, and shops.

The town exudes historical charm, with early 20th-century churches, an 1886 railroad depot, and even a historic carousel pavilion now home to local events. Just steps from downtown, the Green Mountain Falls Pond offers a perfect example of preserved beauty, looking nearly identical to images from over 100 years ago.

Yet despite its historic pedigree, Green Mountain Falls feels entirely unpretentious. The town’s cozy setting, locally-owned businesses, and wooded homes give it an intimate charm that visitors find highly appealing. Meandering through town feels like stepping into another era.

Outdoor Recreation for All Seasons

While Green Mountain Falls shines as a warm-weather destination for hiking, its outdoor recreation opportunities span all four seasons. From fall foliage to winter sports, the area’s scenic wilderness provides an ever-changing backdrop.

As the aspens turn golden in September, scenic drives like the Gold Camp Road become even more breathtaking. The town also comes alive in fall with seasonal events like the Annual Art Walk, Chili Cook-Off, and Pumpkin Patch, popular with Green Mountain Falls residents and visitors alike.

In winter, options open up for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing on nearby trails, while Pikes Peak transforms into a premier downhill ski destination just 30 minutes away. Year-round fly fishing is also popular on the well-stocked streams surrounding Green Mountain Falls and Gazebo Lake.

And everything starts renewing in spring when wildflowers bloom as early as May through summer, adding vibrant color to every trail. Hikers and mountain bikers alike enjoy the comfortable temperatures and long days of sunlight during the summer months.

Local Flavor: Shops, Restaurants and Cafes

Despite its small size, Green Mountain Falls packs a surprising variety of locally-owned shops, restaurants, and cafes into its compact downtown area. From home decor boutiques to craft beer pubs, exploring Main Street and the side avenues offers hidden gems around every corner.

Two prime examples are the Falls Avenue Shops and the Catamount Center, where you’ll find art galleries, gift stores, and cafes housed in historic buildings from the early 1900s. Grab an espresso at the Garden Level Cafe or enjoy a scoop of homemade ice cream at Falls Avenue Ice Cream Company.

The town also boasts its share of cozy diners, bistros, and lounges primed for a relaxing meal. Choose from regional fare at the Pantry Restaurant, fresh pizzas at Mucky Duck, or creative cocktails at the Thirsty Ram Restaurant and Saloon. With the scent of pine trees in the air and the sight of towering peaks all around, Green Mountain Falls delivers an idyllic mountain town dining experience.

Experiencing the Outdoors with the Whole Family

From hiking to fishing to scenic drives, Green Mountain Falls offers plenty of family-friendly outdoor activities perfect for making memories. One of the most popular options is the town’s well-maintained trail system, with easy hikes like Pittman Trail or the gentle nature walk around the Green Mountain Falls Pond.

Families also have their pick of parks and playgrounds, like Lynn Boulevard Park near the elementary school or No Name Park along Fountain Creek where kids can splash in the shallow water. And free summer concerts at the Lily Pond bring everyone together several evenings per week.

With kid-approved dining options like the ice cream shop and soda fountain, Green Mountain Falls makes an ideal home base for families who want to experience Colorado’s natural beauty without sacrificing fun. Whether you spend the afternoon checking out historic landmarks or come back tired and hungry from a full-day hike, the town offers a relaxing pace for families.

From Ute Tribes to Mountain Resorts: A History

The Green Mountain Falls area was originally hunting grounds for the Ute tribes before European settlers arrived in the mid-1800s. This pristine wilderness first served as ranch land for cattle grazing and logging operations. But the town’s destiny soon pivoted towards tourism.

With the advent of railroads expanding west in the 1870s, Green Mountain Falls was envisioned as a mountain resort community conveniently accessible from Colorado Springs. The town incorporated in 1880 and quickly built out hotels, restaurants, shops, and other amenities to serve wealthy tourists looking to escape hot summers in the city.

This prosperity peaked in the early 20th century during the rise of other elite mountain destinations like Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs. Many prominent families from around the United States built summer homes and estates in Green Mountain Falls during this era as it became established as a vacation retreat.

While later decades brought economic ups and downs, the core identity today remains tied to those early years as a mountain resort destination. And the vast unspoiled wilderness surrounding it is thankfully unchanged from centuries ago when Ute tribes traversed these wooded slopes and crystalline creeks.

Planning Your Visit to Green Mountain Falls

Green Mountain Falls delivers big when it comes to beautiful Rocky Mountain scenery without the crowds of better-known destinations. Its cozy small-town charm and plethora of outdoor activities make it an appealing Colorado vacation for couples, families, and nature lovers alike.

While the town offers limited lodging options, including the Green Mountain Falls Lodge and the Outlook Lodge, abundant hotels in nearby Colorado Springs provide easy access from about a 30-minute drive away. July and August are peak visitor months, but fall brings stunning colors and fewer visitors, while winter offers seasonal activities.

Once in town, park your car and enjoy exploring on foot while stopping frequently for scenic views or refreshing snacks. Pick up a local trail map to plan a hike matched to your ability and schedule. Reserving an outdoor table for dinner lets you soak in the mountain scenery as the sun goes down.

And be sure to visit the Green Mountain Falls Visitor Information Center when you arrive to get acquainted with area attractions. Whether you spend a quiet weekend immersed in nature or fill your days with hiking, shopping, and sightseeing, Green Mountain Falls delivers.

FAQ

What is there to do in Green Mountain Falls besides hiking?

In addition to over 20 hiking trails, Green Mountain Falls offers scenic drives along historic routes like Gold Camp Road, family-friendly activities like fishing at the Town Pond, shopping and dining in downtown, and seasonal events such as summer concerts and fall festivals.

Where should visitors stay when visiting Green Mountain Falls?

While Green Mountain Falls has a couple of small inns and lodges in town, most visitors stay in nearby Colorado Springs, which offers more amenities and easy access to Green Mountain Falls just 30 minutes away.

What is the best time of year to visit Green Mountain Falls?

Summer and fall are peak visitor seasons with comfortable weather for hiking and outdoor exploration from June to October. But winter offers snow sports, spring has wildflowers, and the town has year-round charm.

Is Green Mountain Falls suitable for families with young children?

Yes, Green Mountain Falls offers plenty of gentle trails, parks, playgrounds, and kid-friendly dining that are suitable for younger children while also appealing to adults seeking natural scenery without crowds.

How strenuous are the hiking trails around Green Mountain Falls Colorado?

The 20+ trails range from easy nature paths under 1 mile to strenuous full-day hikes with over 1,500 feet of elevation gain. Choose trails based on your ability and fitness level using helpful resources from the Visitor Center.

Ransom_Patterson

About the author

Ransom Patterson

My expertise in Colorado life extends beyond just residing here; it’s also about living actively within the community. I spend my time cycling through Denver’s trails, experimenting with local cuisines, and immersing myself in the local music scene. These activities give me a unique perspective on the cultural and outdoor offerings of Colorado. This hands-on approach allows me to provide insider tips and personal recommendations that resonate with both locals and visitors alike.