May is upon us, and the days of sunshine mixed with showers are beginning. Everywhere you look, seasonal waterfalls are flowing, the aspen are opening their leaves, and wildflowers are beginning to dot the fresh green fields and hiking trails. Although it is still to early to hike a fourteener, there are a number of things to do and see that take only an hour or so, depending on how easily distracted you are by the beauty around you.
Baby Bath Tubs is a wonderful short hike that connects to the Perimeter Trail hike, as well as the Portland Trail. Walk along a river and splash in the natural “tubs” of water within the rocks. Enjoy mountain views with your family or friends. If the snow levels are low and you want to keep going, enjoy the perimeter trail from here as well! Access this hike off the Amphitheatre Campground access road.
The Box Cañon Falls is magnificent any time of year, but as the springtime sun melts snow in the high country, water shoots from the canyon with a deafening roar. Afternoons and evenings, the melt off reaches the waterfall, to explode with the force of the mountain, rushing toward the river below. Indeed a sight to behold, and just a very short walk from the parking lot of the Box Canyon Lodge. The Box Cañon Falls Park is one of very few known nesting sights for the Black Swift, and has been designated an important bird watching site by the National Audubon Society. During the summer season there is a small fee to enjoy the trails and sights within. The park is still accessible in the off season, with a donation box at the entrance. Please note the trails are not monitored or maintained in the winter and early spring.
Looking northeast from the Box Canyon Lodge, Cascade Falls plunges down the side of the canyon, captivating visitors and locals alike. Full to bursting from the spring thaws as well, this waterfall is a quick walk from town, straight up 8th Avenue. This street is pretty steep, so if you prefer, is also a small parking area at the top of the hill, making the walk to the base of this waterfall quick and easy. There is a trail to the Upper Cascade Falls as well, filled with switchbacks and steep climbs, well worth the journey when you reach the top.
Every trail in Ouray seems to intersect another at some point, providing miles and miles of dramatic beauty. You can travel one for a while, and easily switch to an easier or more difficult option, depending on your whim. Springtime brings a different flavor, as many of the hiking trails in the upper elevations are still snow packed or icy in spots, so remember to always hike with a buddy, and let someone know where you are going and when you plan on being back. Ouray Mountain Sports, and the Ouray Trail group are excellent resources for a safe and fun adventure in Ouray!