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Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States

Maja Falls

Hidden Beauty Along “Ring the Peak” Trail

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    This guide contains photos
 (6 votes, 1 review)
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 8.0 miles / 12.9 km
Duration: Half day
Family Friendly • Dog Friendly
 
Overview: This is a beautiful section of the “Ring the Peak” trail system. The distance from Horsethief Falls trailhead to Putney Gulch trailhead is 4 miles. You can begin at either end; both are easily accessible to cars. The Putney Gulch location is also used for camping, and there are several good camping spots along the trail if you want to do more than a four hour (eight mile) day hike. If you want to spend more time, there are several opportunities to explore off the main trail.

The most delightful part of the hike for me was the discovery of Maja (pronounced “mǎzhǎ) Falls. No, I’m not the first to find the falls; there seems to be a well worn path to them. But I have named them, since none of the maps or other trail guides I’ve studied acknowledge the falls, let along designate them. So I’ve name them after my wife.

But this is not the only spot that might capture your heart. You’ll find beaver ponds, fields of flowers, mountain meadows, flowing streams, shady aspen groves and velvet floored fir forests. While you can hike out and back in a stress-free half day, you may want to plan for more time, so you can stop and enjoy the spots that capture your heart.

Directions:

Drive west from Colorado Springs on US Hwy 24 to Divide. Go south from Divide on CO Hwy 67 about 9 miles to the Horsethief Falls trailhead (just around the corner from a sealed off old tunnel).

If you want to begin at the Putney Gulch trailhead, turn off Hwy 67 at the sign for “Crags Campground.” Follow this road about three miles until you see another sign for the campground. Continue past the sign (not turning onto the campground road) for about a half mile. The road will dead end at the trailhead. Starting at this end will cut off about 1.5 miles from the entire trek, because you could turn around at the trail junction with the Horsethief Falls trail – unless, of course, you want to turn left there and continue on up to the falls (another .7 miles).


Tips: 1. You can hike this trail any time of the year. Snow in the winter will make it more difficult; but it can be done. I'd recommend mid-May to mid-September.
2. Mid to late afternoon provides some of the best light for photos; but it's also the time when storms kick up in July & August.
3. This is a good dog hike, especially if your dog likes water.

Points of Interest

map

Horsethief Falls trailhead

This is where you begin. The trail goes up about 400 ft over .7 miles, leveling off just as you get to the trail junction. One side of the trail post points ahead (east) to Horsethief Falls and Pancake Rocks, the other side points north, labeled with “Ring the Peak.” Take a left, cross the creek and you’re now in the south end of large valley. Looking to the east, you’ll see the bare peak of Sentinel Point (12,500 ft) a little over a mile distant and half a mile higher.
map

Trail Split

Here the trail splits again. The right hand path leads to the valley on the north side of Sentinel Point and the Cairned Trail which would take you to the top – see my guide for this exciting trek. For this hike, you want to use the left hand trail. Along the way from the Horsethief Falls trail, you’ll walk beside a large beaver habitat. This path is strewn with a large variety of wild flowers, best viewed in mid summer after a couple of weeks of good rain.
map

Aspen Jungle

The aspen forest the now covers the top of the hill is probably 30 years old, judging from the size of the trees. Tangled beneath its shimmering canopy are the remains of an older fir/pine forest. Some of the trunks/stumps from these old trees are conveniently located at the side of the path. So this is an excellent place to stop for a breather. From here you have a different view of Sentinel point. You’ll also find a couple of massive ant hills (8ft across, three feet high), on which you’ll be able to see these tiny creatures gradually move the mountain on which you stand.
map

Maja Falls

As you come down the hill, you’ll find another trail marker urging you to make a switchback turn to the left. Don’t do that yet. Continue straight on another hundred yards to Maja Falls. You’ll hear it before you see it. From the base you can look to the top, about 150 ft away, and enjoy the stream as it slides gracefully along the granite massif in front of you. If you have time, climb up the right side of the falls; this allows you to see more of its intricate path from various points along the fall line. You’ll need to return to the main trail to continue the hike.
map

Mountain Meadow

About a half mile past the turn off for Maja Falls, you’ll cross a stream into a beautiful mountain meadow. Bounded by two streams, this 100 X 200 yard patch has an excellent camp site at its western tip (rock fireplace seems to have been well constructed by campers). As the path crosses the western stream, you’ll have another excellent view of Sentinel Point, this time revealing more of its northern approach – where you’d exit the Cairned Trail, should you ever decide to hike that way.
map

Putney Gulch trailhead

The last mile of the trail climbs another hill (top at 10,480) before descending to the northern terminus of the hike. The flora is different here, more fir/pine than anything else. The forest bed, covered as it is with an absorbent layer fallen needles is home to a wide variety of mushrooms. The trailhead itself borders another large meadow. The Forest Service has an information board in place, but the papers stapled there were quite old and out of date.
Pictures in this guide taken by: dougknighton
Reviews
Sterfry2004
I'd rate this on the easy side of moderate. Very easy trail to follow, with the exception of the trail to the top of the falls. The falls is totally frozen over right now, so it looks awesome. Dog friendly with a water crossing once early on and when you get to the falls.
Visited on Dec 08, 2014

by Sterfry2004 on Dec 12, 2014

Maja Falls Trail Map


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About the Author

dougknighton
dougknighton
30 guides
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Retired Air Force Chaplain who began military life as an Airborne Ranger. Evidently I didn't get enough...

Maja Falls 3 Day Forecast

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