The Coyote Trail is located within Rifle Falls State Park located just under thirteen miles north of Rifle Colorado. To access the trail from the town of Rifle you need to travel north on Railroad Avenue (CO-13) for about three miles until you come to Hwy-325 on your right. There are signs indicating Rifle Gap and Rifle Falls State Park. Turn right and travel for about 9.6 miles, making sure to bear to the right and drive over the dam at Rifle Gap. Once you enter the canyon and begin following alongside Rifle Creek it’s just a few miles to the entrance of the park.
Once inside the park, drive the short distance past the campsite and picnic areas until you reach the parking lot. From here it’s less than 100 yards to the falls themselves.
Of course Rifle Falls are the main attraction and the trails in the area are just added benefits. The falls themselves are believed to have been formed by a huge and very ancient beaver dam, over time minerals in the water built up and eventually creating what we see today. According to the Colorado Parks & Wildlife website in the late 1800’s the area was called the Rifle Falls Ranch and the creator of the ranch James Watson charged people to see the falls. The early 1900’s found a gentleman named Allan Zerbe who opened the Zerbe Resort which included cabins for people to sleep in.
In 1910 the town of Rifle built a hydroelectric plant at the falls which was one of the first hydroelectric plants in Colorado. Up until 1959 the falls was a source of power for Rifle. History repeated itself in 1966 when the area was turned over to the state and people are once again charged to see the falls.
Exploring around the falls is a really cool experience, during the summer months there are trails that take you right to the base of the falls where you can actually go back behind them a ways. During the winter months there are still trails leading to the falls but they become very, very slick with ice form the mist of the falls and can become treacherous.
The Coyote Trail begins just to the right of the falls and is one of three trails in the park. The trail begins by leading you to the base of the cliffs where you can get really close to one of the falls, then turns to the right and follows along the base of the cliffs. This is the most popular trail in the park and even in the winter it gets well used making for some fairly slick accents and descents in some areas.
As you travel along the cliffs there are a number of caves that you can explore ranging from some just a few feet deep to one that requires flashlights and nerves to explore.
At the top of the falls you have the option of taking the Bobcat Trail which leads you to the Rifle Falls State Fish Hatchery just up the road which is a pretty cool place to visit as well.
A couple of the highlights of this trail are to two little catwalks constructed that hang out over the cliff. These catwalks offer some pretty nice views of the falls from a higher angle.
Once passed the falls the trail begins to drop back down towards the valley floor. There are a couple steep parts going down but the park has built some nice steps and railings to hold onto especially when the steps are slick with snow.
The trail ends just downstream from the falls and near the parking area. The Coyote Trail and Rifle Falls is a great place to visit any time of the year. The area is beautiful and offers a couple great views down the valley. There is also opportunities to see wildlife including deer, elk, bear and believe it or not, moose.
Over the years the word has gotten out about how great the area is and during the summer months the park can become so busy with visitors and campers that it’s a big possibility you could get turned away due to parking availability. But don’t let that detour you, Rifle Falls State Park should definitely be on your “to-do” list.
- Coyote Trail The Coyote Trail at Rifle Falls
- Coyote Trail Coyote Trail at Rifle Falls
- Coyote Trail Upper Coyote Trail at Rifle Falls
- Rifle Falls Rifle falls viewed from the Coyote Trail
- Rifle Falls The falls at Rifle Falls
- Coyote39 Coyote trail at Rifle Falls