Our time in Ouray was full of amazing views from every angle, and probably the most spectacular views were along the Perimeter Trail. This 6.5-mile loop travels around Ouray from high up along the sloping mountains that surround the town known as Switzerland of America. While many make this moderate to strenuous hike in one day, we chose to do two sections of it.
Cascade Falls Hike
The hike to Cascade Falls begins at the Visitor’s Center on the north end of town just across from the Hot Springs. In the beginning, the climb is quite intense as you rise above the town below from 7000 ft. to 7950ish in less than 1/4 mile.
As you reach this height the trail levels a bit before it continues up to almost 8400 ft. at the falls. Taking frequent breaks is essential as you do not want to get lightheaded walking along the path. To the right, it’s almost a straight drop as you’ll see from the video below.
This 1.2-mile hike is full of sweeping views of the town below, as well as great photo opportunities at the top of the falls. As you continue on the path down, you will reach the base of the falls, where more photo opportunities await.
From here you can continue on with the next section of the Perimeter Trail (which heads back up), however, we chose to walk from the Lower Cascade Falls Trailhead on 8th Avenue west into town. Pizza and beer awaited us at the Goldbelt Bar. The pizza was delicious and the beer was excellent.
Baby Bathtubs Hike
A couple of weeks later, we sent to the south end of town near the Amphitheater Campground. We began this hike at a series of small waterfalls and pools known as Baby Bathtubs. The beginning of this hike wasn’t as strenuous as Cascade Falls, and quite a bit of it was in the shade.
With a beginning elevation of just under 8,000 ft. and a max climb of almost 8500 ft. over one mile, our 2-mile roundtrip hike was definitely doable.
As for the views, you could not see this kind of view from your vehicle. As we crested to the 8500 ft. height, we walked along a meadow and songs from The Sound of Music immediately began playing in my head. Views like these are why Ouray is known as Switzerland of America.
If you do no other sections of the Perimeter Hike than these two, you will not be disappointed. Of course, we didn’t hike the entire way, but we still think we saw some pretty amazing scenery.
Be sure to follow us as we travel around the country seeing all America has to offer one mile at a time.
Next week – Box Canyon – another amazing work of Mother Nature.