Join 80,000+ adventurers getting epic travel, camping and hiking ideas every week. Best hiked in March-September, Lily Mountain Trail is a great way to start or end a day exploring Estes Park. 1. I did a lot of hiking on the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park. Additional forest access can be found at Hermit Park Open Space (entrance fees apply); and the Lily Mountain Trailhead, 5.8 miles south of town along Highway 7. You must go down Dunraven-Glade Road and park at the Dunraven Trailhead. Another important precaution that can save lives: don’t be afraid to turn around. Lumpy Ridge – Twin Owls Loop. The hike gains 1,180 feet in elevation with the highest point being 9,786 feet. You can learn more about our editorial and affiliate policy, 10 Best Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, Boulder Canyon Trail: Where the Water Meets the Desert, Camping in Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests & Thunder Basin National Grassland, High Seas & Summit Breeze: 10 Best Hikes in Big Sur, California, 10 Best Glamping Resorts in Colorado for Epic Outdoor Adventures, 10 Best Cabin Rentals in Estes Park, Colorado. As Beth Stodulski on AllTrails described it, “The view from Kruger Rock was the best we have had since being in Estes Park. You can find her on Instagram at @aka_dmoney. Turn on to Lumpy Ridge Road and park in the lot. Bierstadt Lake offers amazing alpine lake views and abundant chances to see wildlife up close without venturing too far. Protsnan said the best way to get comfortable with hiking in the snow to mitigate risk is to just go out to a well-traveled zone. Know your limits and the equipment you have. Lake Estes. Check out the Stanley Hotel. If you're seeking trails that explore deeper into the backcountry of the park, check out our list of the Top 10 Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park . Park personnel will not be able to provide hikers with assistance or guidance, and there will be little to no emergency services available to them until the shutdown is lifted. This hike features sweeping fields of wildflowers in the spring. Dickey has summited every 14er in the state at least twice and has bagged over 500 peaks in total. It provides spectacular views of Longs Peak and the Estes Park valley. Climb through aspen and pine to reach the beautiful views of Estes Park and the majestic peaks of RMNP. There are no grocery stores in Rocky Mountain National Park. Around the lake, you’ll get views of Rocky Mountain National Park, the valleys that make up Estes Park, the infamous Stanley Hotel, and you can even catch a glimpse of the Lumpy Ridge rock formations to the north. To avoid getting caught in a thunderstorm, the easiest solution is to begin your hike in the early morning, so you are hiking out by the time these storms have a chance to show up. When the road is closed to traffic, hiking … Trails below 8,700 feet (2,700 m) make great winter hikes, sometimes without the aid of skis or snow shoes. Wildlife is abundant on this trail, especially the unique birds and raptors that call this section of the Rocky Mountains home. He wants people to be aware of what they’re getting into when they set out to hike and the precautions they should take. These were my favorites: 1. Cairns and survey tape can be found in spots by previous hikers to aid in finding the way. Meeker and Longs Peak, the two highest peaks in Rocky Mountain National Park. The Walker and Griffith homesteads and cabins will be the first that you come to; you can go further and find the Irvin homestead and sawmill, Laycock, Hill, and Boren Homesteads. This itinerary is, at its base, an epic circuit hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. The hotel’s bar and restaurant are open to the public and I highly recommend at least having one cocktail in their historically preserved bar. More in the need of a classic cocktail? Bierstadt Lake is the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic or afternoon snack before your hike back. Now do keep in mind that the trailhead to this beginner hike is about 13 miles from Estes Park at the southeast corner of the park at the Wild Basin Trailhead. Hike .8 mi at elevation 8,690’ Iconic views across the lake of the Continental Divide peaks above Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National ... Bear Lake. Greenwood & Myers Mortuary in Frederick provides full mortuary services to families in Northern Colorado, including affordable cremation options. Gem Lake is a short but strenuous hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. Enjoy the pleasantries, because after these meadows, you’ll be heading straight up a few steep sections through a forested mountain up to Kruger Rock.The view at the top will absolutely be worth the haul. Since this trail does take you into Rocky Mountain National Park, you will have to follow Park rules. Boulder Brook to Granite Pass to Storm Pass, past the Estes Cone. If you are visiting ... Bear Lake Hike at Rocky Mountain National Park. There is a small entrance fee you will have to pay, and dogs are allowed in the park on leash. Allowing you to find yourself some complete mountain solitude on this trail. then L on McGraw Ranch Rd. “Any entry to the park during this period of federal government shutdown is at the visitor’s sole risk,” said Rocky Mountain National Park Public Information Officer Kyle Patterson in a statement following the shutdown. These experiences are best for hiking trails in Estes Park: Hiking Adventure in Rocky Mountain National Park from Denver; Private Hiking Tour to Rocky Mountain National Park from Denver and Boulder One of the most common mistakes made by hikers this time of year is not preparing for the elements. Not only do you get to visit a pretty lake but you also get sweeping views of Estes Park with Longs Peak in the distance. Gem Lake is a great little hike with some awesome views of Estes Park. Your best bet is to get familiar with weather patterns and be able to recognize any dangerous looking clouds. Kruger Rock. Lumpy Ridge is a massive granite rock outcropping just to the north of Estes Park. Hikers can get their feet wet and learn their own program and equipment which will help them stay on the trail and be safe doing so. If you are visiting Rocky Mountain National Park, I encourage you to explore outside the park as well! While it is always important to check the weather before you leave for a hike, unfortunately weather forecasts don’t mean a whole lot in Colorado. Sign up for our free email to join thousands of readers getting epic travel, hiking, camping and gear ideas every week. The lake is frozen right now and can be carefully walked on. Bierstadt Lake is a family favorite! “A lot of people, especially tourists, think that it’s a lot more straightforward than it actually is. Kruger Rock Trail is an out-and-back trail that is very popular among locals. Keep your distance, use the zoom on your camera if you want a picture, then move along. Gem Lake is a great little hike with some awesome views of Estes Park. Here’s our list of the top hikes in RMNP if you’re just looking for in-park options. And as always, please practice Leave No Trace Principles while on the trails of this beautiful Colorado mountain town! Winter brings deep snows to Rocky Mountain National Park west of the Continental Divide, but the lighter snowfall on the east (Estes Park) side of the park often leaves low elevation trails open for hiking. Why you should go: Experience true solitude and adventure on this all-encompassing loop that takes you through Rocky Mountain National Park’s untouched northeast corner. The weather could be really nice and sunny in town, but a couple thousand feet in elevation change could make for blizzard conditions. While viewing wildlife might be your reason to travel to Estes Park and hike, always be cautious and keep your distance. But for anyone who is looking for safe hiking options that are outside of the park, there are hundreds of trails to choose from. Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases from Amazon.com. With mountain views, a pristine lake, wildflowers, and wildlife we’re not ... Lily Mountain. We suggest trying these trails out: Lily Lake: The Lily Lake Trail encircles the pristine Lily Lake for 0.8 miles with very little grade, or incline. – Lily Mountain: This is a moderate, four-mile round trip hike located just south of Estes Park along Colo. 7. Northeast of Estes Park, Crosier Mountain, near the town of Glen Haven, offers four trailheads with access to the forest: Garden Gate, Rainbow, North Fork, and Bulwark. 1. “A lot of people will just roll out with just jeans and tennis shoes, and they’re not properly equipped,” he said. More popular among rock climbers than hikers, this trail is a lightly traveled local secret. R off US34 on MacGregor Ave. 3.5 mi. The steep elevation gain is what deters most people, but don’t be discouraged! Restaurants and grocery stores can be found in the local communities of Grand Lake and Estes Park. If you'd like to hike with your pets, there are nearby trails outside Rocky Mountain National Park, including trails in Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest, multi-use trails around the Town of Estes Park… Tips: Download the Rocky Mountain National Park Map (pdf), for a helpful overview and be sure to check the Shuttle Bus Route to get around if needed. Lake Irene. The Bulwark Ridge and Indian Trails will take you to Miller Fork Trail which will then take you to Donner Pass. Dog Friendly Hikes near Estes Park, Colorado. Roundtrip, the hike to Calypso Cascades is 3.6 miles. Chasm Lake is a 9.5-mile hike with over 2,500 feet of elevation gain. If you’re looking to trade in the sleeping bag for a king size bed, then take a look at our top picks for the best glamping in Colorado. Black Bears are prominent in this area and are known to even take a stroll through town. A pass is needed for accessing any of the trails in the park and dogs are not allowed. Some parts of the trail are icy right now, but with a little caution, it’s an easy trail to navigate even without microspikes. Homestead Meadows is now home to many moose and elk herds that just love roaming through this tucked away alpine wonder. Anyone at the Mountain Shop has a plethora of knowledge, and it is their job to advise people who come in looking for expertise about safety precautions and good trail options. If you want a trail that has it all, Cub Lake is a great option. While it is a popular trail, you’ll likely find spaces available early-mid morning. Although not in the park, Lily Mountain appears in the official park map. The Rocky Mountain Conservancy sells very limited food items in the park visitor centers and bottled water at Bear Lake and Park & Ride during summer and fall. 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If the trailhead isn’t super well-traveled this time of year, it’s not as easy to follow the trail, so route finding and that kind of thing is a whole different animal this time of year.”. You can even fish around Lake Estes! After a long day of hiking, enjoy a burger (or gyro) at Boss Burgers & Gyros. With Rocky Mountain National Park still operating at limited capacity since the partial government shutdown began last week, hikers are advised to use extreme caution if they choose to head into the park due to the limited services that are available to them. The apartment you’ve been looking for in Boulder is at Habitat Apartments! No matter where you end up adventuring in Estes Park, please enjoy, be safe, and practice Leave No Trace principles! Some of these trails will add another mile or so onto your hike, but this hike is more of an adventure anyway so why not? Choose from plenty of great family hikes in Rocky Mountain National park. Located in Roosevelt National Forest, this is a popular and relatively short trail used for backpacking. It was breathtaking.”. This trail is in Roosevelt National Forest, so it is open year-round and is a popular winter trail here if you have micro-spikes or something similar. These burgers are the instant fix to any long, hard day on the trail. Alberta Falls Hike at Rocky Mountain National Park. Hike up through thick forest, listen to trickling waterfalls, then walk through high alpine meadows until you find yourself at the famous Walker and Griffith homesteads. The 7 Best Hikes in Estes Park, Colorado. The mountain will always be there, and if the trail is questionable, it’s OK to turn around and try again another time. From the Lumpy Ridge Trailhead, you’ll ascend the southeastern portion of Lumpy Ridge — a giant granite rock outcropping sculpted by 1.8 billion years of wind and water erosion. Be sure to pause at the bridge to look for trout. As part of the Hermit Park open space, the hike to Kruger Rock is spectacular and one of our favorite accessible hikes outside of Rocky Mountain National Park. This hike is inside Rocky Mountain National Park, but it isn’t a trail – it is a road. – Bridal Veil Falls: This 6.2 mile round trip trail is located at the Cow Creek Trailhead near the Northeast corner of Rocky Mountain National Park. I’m a Scientist and I plan on Taking a COVID Vaccine: Here’s Why. J Day’s Appliance... Tyler is the Trail-Gazette's managing editor. Ouzel Falls. Kruger Rock Trail. It's a great destination to bring the family and those who aren't familiar with hiking in the snow. This is my type of hiking. Some homesteads were burnt down in wildfires over the years, but most remain. Rocky Mountain National Park is just an hour drive from boulder and an hour and a half from Denver. “Be familiar with where you’re going, don’t go alone and let somebody know where you’re going,” he said. Based on many years of hiking throughout the park we've developed a list of our personal favorite top ten hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. The “free-entry” aspect is what makes this area popular among climbers, but they leave the trail after the first 3-4 miles to scramble up to the rock faces. Cow Creek trailhead is near the historic McGraw Ranch, at the end of McGraw Ranch Road, which can be found north of Estes Park off Devils Gulch Road (Limited parking). The homesteads are well marked with information plaques, and you will see markers to other homesteads down shorter trails. The quick access to food and water from higher altitude canyons and mountains makes this an ideal spot for local wildlife to move through. Why you should go: Experience the charm of Estes Park and take a stroll around its namesake. Why you should go: Go back in time as you hike up through pristine alpine country to the remains of 8 homesteads that date back to 1889. Emerald Lake is one of the most accessible hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. Views at the top will make for great sunrise/sunset hikes, and the wildflowers during the spring and summer months are certainly a sight to see. Short hikes, Tundra hikes – Throughout RMNP there are scenic overlooks, parks and picnic areas that have short hiking trails to walk on. This infamous hotel is said to have inspired Stephen King’s “The Shining,” and is one of the top places to visit during your stay in Estes Park. She has had the privilege of working for Colorado’s most experienced climbing guide service as an Office & Marketing Manager and an Outdoor Climbing Guide. Seen in: Colorado, Colorado Hiking, Hike, Rockies. The lake is a great setting for a picnic. Homestead Meadows Trail. Through Black Canyon, descend into Cow Creek lined with thick aspen groves, and continue on to gain views of the distant Mummy Range and Mount Ypsilon. Located south of Estes Park in Rocky Mountain National Park, this trail is easy to access directly along Highway 7. It has since been mostly restored, but the trail can be difficult to find at times, especially in snow. Why you should go: Earn these epic views and summit the rightfully named Lookout Mountain! This park does close in the winter due to seasonal moose and deer migrations. Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases from Amazon.com. – Gem Lake: This moderate, 3.5-mile round trip hike begins at the Lumpy Ridge Trailhead along Devils Gulch Road. Our favorite hikes include everything from family-friendly trails to challenging summit attempts, offering a scenic feast of high-altitude lakes, waterfalls, and of course, spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains. Nymph Lake. Estes Park is packed with its own epic trails and peaks. This hike can be completed all year long, but requires the use of snowshoes and possibly crampons in the winter months. – Lily Mountain: This is a moderate, four-mile round trip hike located just south of Estes Park along Colo. 7. Hiking Alternatives Outside Rocky Mountain National Park. Nate Protsnan, an employee at the Estes Park Mountain Shop, said that this is one of the main mistakes hikers make, especially tourists who aren’t familiar with the area. This hike is very manageable for hikers of all ages and experience levels. I spent this last summer working in the Colorado. The hike to Calypso Cascades is a beginner hike that offers impressive views of a cascading waterfall. The Gem Lake Trail is a relatively short hike that starts just outside the town of Estes Park. 11 Easy Estes Park Hikes for the Whole Family. Since the trail is lightly traveled, it isn’t the most obvious in some areas. It is open to vehicles seasonally. Bottom line: don’t make a moose feel threatened! Note: this list is not comprehensive. – Lily Lake: This easy, 0.8-mile hike is located at the Lily Lake Trailhead near Estes Park. Dogs are allowed (on leash) on this trail. There is an unobstructed view of the entire mountain range. The trail crosses this creek several times, so come prepared with waterproof hiking shoes or Chacos! This loop trail is short on the mileage, but all of the potential side hikes make the distance and difficulty of the trip extremely variable. Not only have wildfires damaged homesteads in this area, but the trail was also taken out in 2013 by flooding and was reopened in 2017. 2.5 mi. This trail is open year-round and is a great snow-shoe hike in the winter. Unlike other parts of Rocky Mountain National Park that are consistently busy and packed with people, the Lumpy Ridge area does not immediately connect with any trails that are popular among National Park hikers. This trail can receive horrible weather all year round. With campsites deep in the Rocky Mountains, camping here will provide ample solitude and recreation opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. After guiding several trips through the Western Slope Desert, Daniell fell in love with climbing desert towers and overnight canoe trips down the Colorado River. The hike offers outstanding views of Lily Mountain, Estes Cone, as well as Mt. Special OP/Ed - What exactly is the 25th Amendment to the United States Constitution. CLICK HERE TO TURN ON NOTIFICATIONS. Both Dickey and Protsnan said that there should never be any shame in asking someone who is more experienced for help and advice. It gains 990 feet in elevation with the highest elevation point being 8,815 feet. The Estes Park Visitor Center is also right along this pathway, so take some time to stop in! Estes Park hikes for kids. Find the best hiking and backpacking underwear options for men, including one brand the author hiked in for 3,000 miles. Lion Gulch Trail A.K.A. These storms are very serious and develop quickly. The hike follows a creek through Lion Gulch then ascends and brings you up to Homestead Meadows. To access the 1/2 mile loop hike around Sprague Lake, cross the bridge near the parking area. If you plan to do any of these hikes, lookup trail information online and know what equipment and clothing you need before embarking on them. And when in doubt, head out! Instead, it travels through the Roosevelt National Forest. Bierstadt Lake Trail. But this trail will make you sweat! The hike starts just outside of Estes up Devils Gulch Road. This trailhead is free to park and enter, but it is just a small pull-off on Highway 7 so parking can be limited. to end. While this paved trail isn’t the most extreme or doesn’t take you up an iconic summit, Lake Estes still makes the cut for this article because it’s just fun. With its spellbinding coastal views and funky bohemian history, it’s impossible not to be charmed by the woodsy quirks and forested mountains of Big Sur. Why you should go: Enjoy a thick forest scene, great vistas, and amazing views at the top of this popular trail. You won’t find the Lost Dutchman’s gold, but you will get luminous views of Weaver’s Needle, Four Peaks, Battleship Mountain and Canyon Lake. Some that I recommend are Hidden Valley, Alluvial Fan, Moraine Park, and the Tundra Trails near the Alpine Visitor Center at the top of Trail Ridge Road. Mt. Parking and entering is free, and dogs are allowed on leash in the area. Daniell is a freelance writer based out of Fort Collins, Colorado. Veteran and new visitors alike can use this tool as a starting point in trying to decide where to hike during your upcoming visit. You can learn more about our editorial and affiliate policy here. Photo: Brendan Bombaci. If you love mountains, this is the place for you. This is one of the easier lake hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. Even when you are in town you can enjoy a leisurely nature walk around Lake Estes. With several people having gone missing in the park just this year alone and with limited emergency services currently operating, it’s more important than ever to be careful, said Charley Dickey, the president of the Estes Valley Partners for Commerce. This gain brings you high into the Rockies and provides vast 360-degree views of Rocky Mountain National Park, Big Thompson Canyon, the Cache La Poudre Canyon, and the meadows below. There is a trailhead named Miller Creek/Fork Trailhead that is where this trail begins; but currently, you can’t park at this trailhead unless you have a resident pass. A perfect rest day activity, or fun addition to walking around town, enjoying the Lake Estes Trail is fun for all ages and activities. There are plenty of lodging options in Estes Park, but renting a cabin is the way to go for a truly authentic Rocky Mountain experience. Old Fall River Road is a one-way dirt road that winds all the way up to the Alpine Visitor Center. Alberta Falls Alberta Falls in Estes Park, CO. Photo: Bert Cash Alberta Falls is reached by a short, 0.8 mile hike on a gentle, easy trail in Rocky Mountain National Park.This spectacular waterfall on Glacier Creek is one of the most popular hiking spots in the park. Located just outside Rocky Mountain National Park in the Roosevelt National Forest, Lily Mountain is one of the few dog-friendly hikes in the area and is included on RMNP trail maps. The trail gains 1,000 feet in elevation with the highest point of the hike being 8,860 feet. Why you should go: Hike up to one of the most accessible alpine lakes in the Estes Park area! Lily Lake has a short, mellow trail that loops around the lake. Expect some scramble as you approach the summit. Backpacking or dispersed camping along this trail will also require a Parks camping permit and reservation that can be obtained here. Sprague Lake is a 13-acre lake named after Abner Sprague, an early resident of the Estes Park area who ran a game lodge on the this property which is now part of Rocky Mountain National Park. With the risk of going missing or getting injured while hiking in the park being marginally increased with the lack of emergency services operating right now, those that do choose to enter the park are encouraged to take the above precautions into account. But be prepared, this trail gets fairly steep towards the end. Hermit Park is an Open Space located right outside Estes Park. This trail is quite shady and great for hot summer days. A new wood floor will transform the interior like nothing else. It is also recommended to bring a map and compass on this trail as backup. Parking for this trail can be tricky. These bears live close to humans and are pretty comfortable with being close to us; that doesn’t mean you should take a selfie with them. The elevation gain is just 10 feet, with the highest elevation point being 8,940 feet. Here are the best waterfalls near RMNP and Estes Park, CO, in no particular order:. A brief list of some of the more popular hikes outside the park follows. Check out more of our hiking guides featuring the most epic terrain in the Rocky Mountains: 10 Best Hikes in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Dogs, unfortunately, are not allowed on trails. It's no surprise that Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most popular parks in the country. Boulder Hardwood Flooring provides... Find the top appliances from Frigidaire, Maytag and Whirlpool right now at J. Day’s Appliance in Loveland! No, not the same Donner Pass that led to the historic Donner Party’s tragic demise. Hiking Trails Near Estes Park, Colorado. Maine is playfully nicknamed “Vacationland,” and at Acadia National Park you’ll quickly see why. Estes Park: the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park is a small mountain town packed with history and charm. I was such a lucky kid to have many memories hiking around Rocky Mountain National Park and other areas near Estes Park, Colorado. Emerald Lake Hike Rocky Mountain National Park. Twin Sisters trailhead sits right across the street from Lily Lake. Cub Lake. A pass is needed for accessing any of the trails in the park and dogs are not allowed. The ambiance and wildlife are just as spectacular if you aren't huffing and puffing up a steep mountainside, after all. How can I write about short lake hikes at Rocky Mountain National Park and not mention Gem Lake -- a true gem of a hike. Hiking safety and popular trails outside RMNP, Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window), Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Trail Ridge Road Closes To Through Travel For The Season, Some help is on the way for small businesses, View from the top of the Estes Cone in Rocky Mountain National Park — VIDEO, Inside Arts: Local author James Kaiser combines writing and photography. Turn on to Lumpy Ridge Road and park in the lot. Gem Lake: A Great Hike Outside RMNP - See 124 traveler reviews, 179 candid photos, and great deals for Rocky Mountain National Park, CO, at Tripadvisor. The hike starts just outside of Estes up Devils Gulch Road. “These are pretty important and that’s what a lot of people have failed to do that have got in trouble and then didn’t get rescued because nobody knew where they were at.”. Get started on your adventure by trekking on these fantastic, family-friendly hiking trails in Estes Park, Colorado. While Lumpy Ridge is technically part of Rocky Mountain National Park, the trailhead lies just outside the Park’s borders and is free to park and enter. You will enjoy great amenities, like a playground,... Are you remodeling your home? If you are hiking through a canyon or in a pass that blocks your surrounding view, it is very easy to get caught in a very serious situation. This level, fully accessible trail with a parking lot is perfect to take young ones as it gently meanders around the lake. GET BREAKING NEWS IN YOUR BROWSER. Flattop Mountain and Hallett Peak. A map and compass is highly recommended on this trail. Ouzel Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park, near Allenspark, Colorado, on May 25, 2018. Why you should go: What better way to find some solitude than in a place called Hermit Park? If you have hiked in the northern Colorado area before, you’ve probably been warned about frequent afternoon thunderstorms during the summer months. Moose are also very abundant in this area and are known to become aggressive when they feel threatened. Wildlife is quite abundant here; you can find deer, elk, black bears, foxes, coyotes, and even wild turkeys. Best traveled between May and October, the Donner Pass Trail is a lightly trafficked out-and-back trail. Quite often I think about how fortunate I was to grow up near to such a beautiful place. The Twin Owls Loop gives you ad complete tour of this Northeast corner of Rocky Mountain National Park. Gem Lake is on the north side of Estes Park … Moose especially love this lakeside spot to search for food. Lily Mountain Trail. Sprague Lake. Explore an adventure playground full of 14ers, alpine lakes, and over 300 miles of trails. Just outside the town of Estes Park, Colorado and can be completed all year long, day... But requires the use of snowshoes and possibly crampons in the winter to. Weather could be really nice and sunny in town, but a couple thousand feet in with! 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