Morgan Creeks Falls is located just north of Hayden and is the closest real ice climb to the Craig area. Climbing to the top requires WI 4+ or more.
The falls lie on private land. See more information below.
Morgan Creek Falls lies on the lower slopes of the Elkhead Mountains. Several aspects of the Elkheads make this a rather unique mountain range in Colorado. It is certainly possible that the Elkhead Mountains are the least known of the major mountain ranges in Colorado. This is partially because the range is a long way from any metropolitan area, and partially because the Elkheads are fairly low by Colorado standards, as there are no peaks reaching 11,000 feet. There are also few lakes, so the range isn’t visited by fishermen. Despite their low altitude, the Elkheads receive much snow, and snow lasts into July on the higher peaks. Most of the peaks in the Elkheads see very few ascents. The Elkheads are very popular for hunting in the fall and contain large populations of deer, elk, bear, etc.
Looking straight up Morgan Creek Falls. The falls is 80-90 feet high.
Hayden is along Highway 40 east of Craig or west of Steamboat. From Walnut Street in Hayden, turn north on Walnut, a.k.a. County Road 76, and follow it north for 0.7 miles to County Road 80. Turn right on (gravel) County Road 80. Park on County Road 80 when it is blocked by snow. More than likely, you will have to hoof it on snowshoes or ski from here.
County Road 80 is very slick even at slow speeds. The buried ditches on the side of the road suck you in. Luckily I was driving the wife's car that day. Borrowing a spouses car is recommended.
Unfortunately, like most of Colorado, Morgan Creek Falls suffers from private land issues. We were not aware of any issues before our climb, but apparently the falls lie on private land.
In the past, ice climbers have been granted permission, but I highly advise anyone climbing there to seek permission from the owners first. Hayden is a small place so ask around and someone can put you in contact with the owners. Apparently it’s not an issue in winter, but is during hunting season, for example. The owners are supposed to be nice people, but some of the ranch hands are stricter.
Anyone climbing Morgan Creek Falls should seek official permission first.
Hike or ski north up the road to a low pass (see map) located near the elevation marked 6937. Just after the pass, look for a track heading east. Head along the track east and north until you see the prominent fence line. The fence forms a 90 degree angle and changes from an east to west to a north to south direction. Hike to the NE corner of the fence. Assuming you received permission there is a gate here which is open in winter. Follow the fence line east to Morgan Creek. Follow Morgan Creek down a short distance to the falls.
There are a few small trees and one solid boulder to set up a top-rope anchor. Rappel down the falls and choose your route. The falls is 80-90 feet high and rated WI4+
Zoom shot of SP member Steamboatclimber on Morgan Creek Falls.
Normal ice climbing gear, plus at least 50 feet of sling.