Every winter, I make a couple of pilgrimages to my favorite place to photograph ice, Green Mountain Falls. There, on the east side of Pikes Peak, a couple of creeks spill down the mountainside, and in winter they form miraculous settings of flowing ice and water. Every year the pattern of ice is somewhat predictable; the character of the flows is the same in certain parts of the creeks. Yet, every year the weather pattern and water flow is different, and that helps to ensure that the ice formations are never the same. Like snowflakes, the icicles and frozen sculptures are always unique.
Getting to the falls themselves is always a bit of an adventure. You start in the center of town, then hike up a steep dirt road lined by hideaway homes. About halfway up the road, you pass a sign for “Bigfoot Crossing,” the spot of an alleged Bigfoot sighting a couple decades ago. Not far beyond that, another sign warns you of mountain lion activity in the area. I have seen mountain lion tracks on the trail, but no Bigfoot tracks–yet! Finally, at the end of the road, another sign warns you that “foot traffic is not advised” due to “dangerous ice flows ahead.” I can vouch for that, I once slipped off the closed road/trail and nearly slid off the adjacent cliff! Foot traction is highly advised in winter!
I always hike the loop in a counterclockwise route; the second waterfall (Crystal) is better suited for later in the day due to the low-angle sunlight, and it’s a little easier to navigate, so it’s like a dessert after the main course. Catamount Falls, the first of the two cascades, is a bit steeper and there are a couple sections in winter that are a bit tricky to climb up. It’s always a bit of an adventure sliding around on the forzen creek surface looking for the best ice to photograph.
After a three mile loop, You end up back in the center of town, where there is a nice frozen pond with a resident population of ducks and geese, and a couple shops and restaurants. It’s a great way to spend a winter afternoon! I’m already looking forward to my next trip–probably late winter or early spring.