Located in Mineral County, Colorado, Treasure Falls is a 105-foot-tall waterfall with a big, distinct drop. As legend has it, the falls got its name thanks to treasure that’s allegedly buried in the mountain from where the falls plunge – more on that below.

Treasure Falls Ahodges7 (wikimedia commons)
Treasure Falls. Photo Credit: Ahodges7 (Wikimedia Commons).

In the late 1700s, a group of several hundred Frenchmen were said to enter the area of Treasure Mountain (the same mountain from which the falls derives its namesake). At the time, the San Juan Mountains were Spanish territory, potentially making the Frenchmen’s presence a risk. While laying low, the Frenchmen are said to have found gold, and quite a bit of it. Unfortunately, due to weather, disease, and conflict with indigenous populations, only 2 men of several hundred survived the experience to tell the tale. This means there might still be gold in these hills around the falls.

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Dropping into Falls Creek, which eventually connects with the San Juan River, some still suspect that the gold has yet to be found. If there is still untapped potential, there’s a chance the clues are in the surrounding waterways, making this a spot of interest for panning enthusiasts.

Only 15 miles from Pagosa Springs, this waterfall is quite accessible. There’s a trailhead on US Highway 160, with the falls visible from the parking lot. The trail to the waterfall isn’t particularly difficult, a little steep, but a hike of just 15 minutes. From the base of the falls, there’s also a switchback trail that ends up closer to the base at a spot called “Misty Deck.” It got that name because hikers in this spot can feel the mist coming off of the water.

If you plan a trip to this destination, please follow the principles of Leave No Trace.

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