The third time is the charm.
I’ve tried reaching Hospital Creek Falls from the trailhead at the end of 12th Street N. (Husky mobile home park), but have not been able to get there in my years of living in Golden. The walk is beautiful, alongside Hospital Creek, so it hasn’t been all bad.
This short hike will get you from the beginning of the trail to the falls in less than 30 minutes. The terrain is mostly flat along the creek, but there are a few logs to get over and under, and depending on how you get yourself there, you may encounter a rock face or two to skirt round.
The trail starts out fairly obvious, but as you go along it disappears a bit. We crossed the creek a few times over logs and slippery rocks, so good balance is key. There are a few parts where you might need to pull yourself up the embankment using roots and trees to boost yourself up.
This hike is probably best attempted in the fall. I have tried to get to the falls too early before, and have been thwarted by the high creek blocking the passage through the canyon part near the end.
After getting into the woods and away from town, all while being very close to civilization at the same time, the trees get a bit thicker and the ground gets a bit spongier. The smell changes from that in-town familiarity to the deep woods, thick with aromas from the Earth.
You will be reminded of civilization the whole way to the falls. An array of trash and forgotten fire pits show you the way. At first it’s beer cans, then a few tires, an engine block, an entire car, and then you’re almost there. The relics from days’ past aren’t so bad. It is a fun game to walk along and play “name that car part.” The creek is located at the bottom of a canyon, not far from Golden Upper Donald Road, so it is unsurprising a few old cars and recreational vehicles have gone over the edge, or been tossed off by people.
It is a little scramble to get to the falls. Whichever way you choose will get you there. My hiking partner climbed straight up a hillside on a little path, alongside Jake, my dog. I chose the somewhat sketchy path that was shorter, but used all my limbs to scale it. And then, just like that, the falls are right there.
They come out of a giant crevasse in the rocks and thunder down into a small pool that is crystal clear. The rocks surrounding it are all smoothed by its unstoppable force.
So, while there are still sunny days left, put on some good shoes, maybe bring a hiking pole for added balance to get across those slippery rocks and logs, and get out to enjoy the cool weather. It won’t be long before everything is blanketed in snow.