It’s a remarkable feeling to be surrounded by the golds, reds and burnt oranges of fall colors, and what better place to experience them than in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of Custer County? Whether you are walking through a grove of aspens or observing rolling vistas of color from on high, it’s breathtaking.

There are many popular longer hikes you can take through the mountains, but if you’re looking for a short hike with a waterfall and views galore, here’s a scenic trip we recommend.

The Alvarado Loop

Start by following these directions to the Comanche-Venable Trailhead:

Hop on the trail north of the parking area, which is on your right if you’re facing the concrete wall. This is mostly an uphill section, but it’s doable for a wide range of ages and abilities if you take your time. Take a left when you reach the Rainbow Trail (.5 miles). After the trail meanders past the waterfall and some stunning views, you’ll come to another intersection and take a left down the hill to finish the loop at the parking area. A brisk pace can get you around the loop in 45 to 60 minutes, but bring a picnic or snacks and hang out at the waterfall.

Get information on more trails in Custer County, or grab a coffee at one of several coffee houses in the area and take in the beauty of fall from town.