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Forsythe Canyon to Gross Reservoir

Distance3.2 mi
Elevation Gain449 ft
My Time1 hr 30 min
Closest TownNederland
Food NearbyBusey Brews

Forsythe Canyon to Gross Reservoir

The Forsythe Canyon to Gross Reservoir is a bit of an easier hike that features a waterfall and access to a cove of Gross Reservoir. It is a bit out of the way but worth the trip if you are looking to get to the woods.

Getting Started

Before you even get started on the hike you are in for an adventure if you are coming from Denver/Boulder. Magnolia Road is a steep road with a bunch of tight switchbacks that made the drive fun. More about that in the Access section down below.

The hike itself starts pretty easily with a walk through a wooded area. The best views of the early hike are actually from the trailhead when you can see the surrounding cliffs. After that, you descend down to the floor of the canyon and are surrounded by cliff walls.

The views from the trailhead of the Forsythe Canyon to Gross reservoir hike.  The views show some tall rock formations before descending down.

The trail will start a one mile descent to the waterfall that is pretty easy and relaxing. The downward grade is only in the single digits. In the winter the stream was dry or frozen so it didn’t provide much to look at but I am sure in the spring this could be really nice. A mile later you will find yourself at the waterfall.

The Waterfall

After the mile long trip along the stream bed you will find yourself at the top of the waterfall. The waterfall was completely frozen when I went there which was pretty cool…pun intended. The hardest part of the hike is next. You will have to climb over the cliff next to you to get to the bottom of the falls.

There are several trails that lead up the hill and around the hill. If you are on one that is solid rock you are not on the easiest/safest way over. There are some dirt trails that get you up the hill and back down the other side. From the other side you have a chance to follow another web of trails to get close to the bottom of the falls. As I said it was frozen and looked very cool.

Me in front of the frozen waterfall complex  on the Forsythe canyon to Gross reservoir trail.

Gross Reservoir

The trail continues from the waterfall towards Gross Reservoir from here. There is a sign, covered in stickers, that warns not to make contact with the water so keep that in mind. Following along the frozen creek from the waterfall took me to the water. There was a bit of a beach and the sun was shining and it felt nice.

The cove of Gross Reservoir from Forsythe Canyon.  There are sandy hills on either side of the frozen water.

I didn’t go to far towards the water and stayed mostly on the rocks above the sand. One thing that caught my eye that I was just fascinated by were these ice chunks. They kept floating towards the main sheet. Then they would crash into the sheet and retreat. I wish I could tell you I didn’t watch this for as long as I did.

After this its just a trip back to the parking area. One thing to keep in mind is that on this hike the parking area is actually the highest point. The gentle incline that brought you down here will now become a gentle incline for the rest of the way back.

Elevation and Distance

If you don’t have the AllTrails app you might want to check it out, I really love mine. It records your progress and is a great way to search for hikes that are nearby and gives you difficulty measurements. According to AllTrails today’s hike was around 3.20 miles and had a total elevation gain of about 449 feet including undulations. That put the high point at around 7,694 feet. This was actually at the parking area as the trail headed down. I was also moving for a total of 1 hour and 30 minutes.

I am a Pro member of AllTrails and love it. If you are interested in the platform, please consider using my affiliate link for AllTrails. It gives me a small commission with no extra cost to you.


This one wasn’t too bad from an effort standpoint. The trip out was a gentle downward slope until the waterfall. At the waterfall there is some elevation gain to get around it but not too bad. The hardest part is that once you go down the slope you have to come back up it! Here is the step count for the hike from my Fitbit.

The step count for my hike from Forsythe Canyon and Gross Reservoir was 8,311 steps.


The trail is a more narrow dirt path with the occasional root or rock but not too challenging. It does get hard to follow a bit when it gets near the stream and around the waterfall with several paths splitting off into different areas. Overall a pretty easy trail to navigate.


Honestly this was one of my favorite hikes to drive to. It started on Magnolia road off of Boulder Canyon and the road is one of those small two lane 14% grade roads with a ton of hairpin turns. There is a small cut off that has some amazing views.

The view from Magnolia Road on the way to Forsythe Canyon

After Magnolia stops being paved you will turn onto County Road 68 before finally accessing Forest Service Road 359 for the trail head. The trailhead does have a pit toilet and room for about 15 cars and horse trailers.

Wrap up of Forsythe Canyon to Gross Reservoir

This wasn’t the hike I was planning but high winds made me seek some alternates and I glad I ended up here. It was such a relaxing and easier hike. The waterfall was my favorite part and the views around the reservoir were really nice. The hike is nice if you like the woods without much in the big view department.

I actually really liked the drive to this hike. There were some really amazing views of the surrounding mountains and farm land. This is a hike I would like to do again in the summer or spring to see how it changes with some flowing water. Overall I rated it as easy although there are a couple of challenging part.

I have added this hike and all of my hikes to the interactive map page you can find here. If you have any suggestions for hikes or comments feel free to email me at or you can follow me on any of the below social media platforms. Happy Hiking!

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