Some parts of the trail are icy right now, but with a little caution, it’s an easy trail to navigate even without microspikes. It is open to vehicles seasonally. The elevation gain is just 10 feet, with the highest elevation point being 8,940 feet. 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. Kruger Rock Trail. 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. “A lot of people will just roll out with just jeans and tennis shoes, and they’re not properly equipped,” he said. While it is a popular trail, you’ll likely find spaces available early-mid morning. I’m a Scientist and I plan on Taking a COVID Vaccine: Here’s Why. 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. 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. Restaurants and grocery stores can be found in the local communities of Grand Lake and Estes Park. Why you should go: What better way to find some solitude than in a place called Hermit Park? 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. The ambiance and wildlife are just as spectacular if you aren't huffing and puffing up a steep mountainside, after all. I was such a lucky kid to have many memories hiking around Rocky Mountain National Park and other areas near 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. 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. “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. 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 Estes Park Visitor Center is also right along this pathway, so take some time to stop in! Bierstadt Lake is a family favorite! Dickey has summited every 14er in the state at least twice and has bagged over 500 peaks in total. With campsites deep in the Rocky Mountains, camping here will provide ample solitude and recreation opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. Chasm Lake is a 9.5-mile hike with over 2,500 feet of elevation gain. Dogs, unfortunately, are not allowed on trails. Special OP/Ed - What exactly is the 25th Amendment to the United States Constitution. Here’s our list of the top hikes in RMNP if you’re just looking for in-park options. 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. Kruger Rock Trail is an out-and-back trail that is very popular among locals. The trail gains 1,000 feet in elevation with the highest point of the hike being 8,860 feet. The hike offers outstanding views of Lily Mountain, Estes Cone, as well as Mt. 1. The hike gains 1,180 feet in elevation with the highest point being 9,786 feet. Check out more of our hiking guides featuring the most epic terrain in the Rocky Mountains: 10 Best Hikes in Colorado Springs, Colorado. 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. Lumpy Ridge is a massive granite rock outcropping just to the north of Estes Park. This hike features sweeping fields of wildflowers in the spring. “A lot of people, especially tourists, think that it’s a lot more straightforward than it actually is. 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. 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. A map and compass is highly recommended on this trail. This hike is inside Rocky Mountain National Park, but it isn’t a trail – it is a road. Climb through aspen and pine to reach the beautiful views of Estes Park and the majestic peaks of RMNP. Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases from Amazon.com. Quite often I think about how fortunate I was to grow up near to such a beautiful place. Estes Park is packed with its own epic trails and peaks. Parking for this trail can be tricky. Keep your distance, use the zoom on your camera if you want a picture, then move along. Alberta Falls Hike at Rocky Mountain National Park. This trail can receive horrible weather all year round. More in the need of a classic cocktail? 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 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. Choose from plenty of great family hikes in Rocky Mountain National park. These were my favorites: 1. Located in Roosevelt National Forest, this is a popular and relatively short trail used for backpacking. This is one of the easier lake hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. It is also recommended to bring a map and compass on this trail as backup. A new wood floor will transform the interior like nothing else. The Gem Lake Trail is a relatively short hike that starts just outside the town of Estes Park. I spent this last summer working in the Colorado. 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. Both Dickey and Protsnan said that there should never be any shame in asking someone who is more experienced for help and advice. Even when you are in town you can enjoy a leisurely nature walk around Lake Estes. As Beth Stodulski on AllTrails described it, “The view from Kruger Rock was the best we have had since being in Estes Park. 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 . Seen in: Colorado, Colorado Hiking, Hike, Rockies. Instead, it travels through the Roosevelt National Forest. to end. Trails below 8,700 feet (2,700 m) make great winter hikes, sometimes without the aid of skis or snow shoes. Sign up for our free email to join thousands of readers getting epic travel, hiking, camping and gear ideas every week. More popular among rock climbers than hikers, this trail is a lightly traveled local secret. If you are visiting Rocky Mountain National Park, I encourage you to explore outside the park as well! Here are the best waterfalls near RMNP and Estes Park, CO, in no particular order:. Moose are also very abundant in this area and are known to become aggressive when they feel threatened. To access the 1/2 mile loop hike around Sprague Lake, cross the bridge near the parking area. Check out the Stanley Hotel. You can even fish around Lake Estes! J Day’s Appliance... Tyler is the Trail-Gazette's managing editor. The hike starts just outside of Estes up Devils Gulch Road. Your best bet is to get familiar with weather patterns and be able to recognize any dangerous looking clouds. 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. 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. 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). 1. Why you should go: Experience the charm of Estes Park and take a stroll around its namesake. Expect some scramble as you approach the summit. The Bulwark Ridge and Indian Trails will take you to Miller Fork Trail which will then take you to Donner Pass. 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. Another important precaution that can save lives: don’t be afraid to turn around. Turn on to Lumpy Ridge Road and park in the lot. Rocky Mountain National Park is just an hour drive from boulder and an hour and a half from Denver. One of the most common mistakes made by hikers this time of year is not preparing for the elements. 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. Parking and entering is free, and dogs are allowed on leash in the area. “Be familiar with where you’re going, don’t go alone and let somebody know where you’re going,” he said. 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. Estes Park: the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park is a small mountain town packed with history and charm. The lake is frozen right now and can be carefully walked on. Emerald Lake Hike Rocky Mountain National Park. You can learn more about our editorial and affiliate policy here. Note: this list is not comprehensive. Why you should go: Enjoy a thick forest scene, great vistas, and amazing views at the top of this popular trail. Backpacking or dispersed camping along this trail will also require a Parks camping permit and reservation that can be obtained here. The lake is a great setting for a picnic. Meeker and Longs Peak, the two highest peaks in Rocky Mountain National Park. Get started on your adventure by trekking on these fantastic, family-friendly hiking trails in Estes Park, Colorado. 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. Hermit Park is an Open Space located right outside Estes Park. 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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. – 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. Wildlife is quite abundant here; you can find deer, elk, black bears, foxes, coyotes, and even wild turkeys. Hiking Trails Near Estes Park, Colorado. 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. 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. Boulder Brook to Granite Pass to Storm Pass, past the Estes Cone. – Lily Mountain: This is a moderate, four-mile round trip hike located just south of Estes Park along Colo. 7. Dogs are allowed (on leash) on this trail. 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? Cub Lake. Located south of Estes Park in Rocky Mountain National Park, this trail is easy to access directly along Highway 7. 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. This trail is quite shady and great for hot summer days. 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 trailhead is free to park and enter, but it is just a small pull-off on Highway 7 so parking can be limited. 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. Kruger Rock. then L on McGraw Ranch Rd. Bierstadt Lake is the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic or afternoon snack before your hike back. 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. But for anyone who is looking for safe hiking options that are outside of the park, there are hundreds of trails to choose from. This hike can be completed all year long, but requires the use of snowshoes and possibly crampons in the winter months. But this trail will make you sweat! This itinerary is, at its base, an epic circuit hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. Why you should go: Earn these epic views and summit the rightfully named Lookout Mountain! No matter where you end up adventuring in Estes Park, please enjoy, be safe, and practice Leave No Trace principles! No, not the same Donner Pass that led to the historic Donner Party’s tragic demise. While viewing wildlife might be your reason to travel to Estes Park and hike, always be cautious and keep your distance. Gem Lake is a short but strenuous hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. Mt. A perfect rest day activity, or fun addition to walking around town, enjoying the Lake Estes Trail is fun for all ages and activities. This trail is open year-round and is a great snow-shoe hike in the winter. – Lily Lake: This easy, 0.8-mile hike is located at the Lily Lake Trailhead near Estes Park. There are no grocery stores in Rocky Mountain National Park. “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.”. A pass is needed for accessing any of the trails in the park and dogs are not allowed. 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. Photo: Brendan Bombaci. GET BREAKING NEWS IN YOUR BROWSER. Be sure to pause at the bridge to look for trout. This park does close in the winter due to seasonal moose and deer migrations. 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. If you want a trail that has it all, Cub Lake is a great option. Short hikes, Tundra hikes – Throughout RMNP there are scenic overlooks, parks and picnic areas that have short hiking trails to walk on. With mountain views, a pristine lake, wildflowers, and wildlife we’re not ... Lily Mountain. He wants people to be aware of what they’re getting into when they set out to hike and the precautions they should take. There is a small entrance fee you will have to pay, and dogs are allowed in the park on leash. If you have hiked in the northern Colorado area before, you’ve probably been warned about frequent afternoon thunderstorms during the summer months. A brief list of some of the more popular hikes outside the park follows. This hike is very manageable for hikers of all ages and experience levels. It's no surprise that Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most popular parks in the country. Lake Irene. There is an unobstructed view of the entire mountain range. This is my type of hiking. 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. Twin Sisters trailhead sits right across the street from Lily Lake. The hike to Calypso Cascades is a beginner hike that offers impressive views of a cascading waterfall. CLICK HERE TO TURN ON NOTIFICATIONS. Flattop Mountain and Hallett Peak. How can I write about short lake hikes at Rocky Mountain National Park and not mention Gem Lake -- a true gem of a hike. Best hiked in March-September, Lily Mountain Trail is a great way to start or end a day exploring Estes Park. Gem Lake is a great little hike with some awesome views of Estes Park. 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. It has since been mostly restored, but the trail can be difficult to find at times, especially in snow. To turn around a relatively short hike that offers impressive views of a waterfall... And possibly crampons in the Park and take a stroll around its namesake out of Fort Collins, Colorado Colorado. 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