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Pagosa Springs is located in the heart of the Southern Rockies so that one can stay in Pagosa and visit many great tourist stops on one day drives. Here is a story about North Clear Creek Falls. It is off Hwy 149 north from South Fork, Colorado. It is a beautiful drive all the way there and back.
Story and photos by Jeff Marzec.
We were without a the 4 wheel drive truck, so we chose a hike we could drive the Civic to. North Clear Creek falls was a spot I had been to before but my son, Sean had never made the decent to the foot of the falls. Since I had made the trip before I wanted to let him lead to see how he did at route finding.
There is a very obvious trail starting down at the south end of the visitors parking area, but soon deteriorates into a rock scramble. The rock is hard and sharp so be sure to have good shoes or even better, boots. Gloves are a nice extra due to all the sharp edges on the rock that is always cleaving off, due to freezing. creating new sharp edges. As we skirted along the west side of the creek, we had to keep moving up and down the face of the boulder field to find the path of least resistance. Too low and you may slip into the drink, too high and there is a lot of brush to deal with below the canyon wall. Many of the boulders you must get around are at least the size of your average car.
Eventually Sean reached the base of the falls where the mist from the falls is constant and from here the footing can get slippery. As you make your way around the left side of the fall there are a couple of level spots right next to the falls that afford some wonderful views down the canyon. This is a wonderful place to sit and enjoy the power of the falls, though the noise may make it hard to even hear your own thoughts.
Of course, after you have enjoyed this wild beauty, there is the hike out. Luckily it is fairly easy to see short cuts up through the canyon walls, but assess them well since some dead-end. If you are not a climber, you can always follow the stream back to the trail. Afternoon showers increased the difficulty of our retreat from the canyon by making the rock very slippery for both foot and hand. Our timeline out was about the same as our decent since we took a more direct route up. This hike can be made by anyone in reasonable health and the proper footwear.