Even if you have challenges with time, mobility or skills, a simple trek around a lake, stream or meadow will keep you wanting to come back for more. The scenery and wildlife are just as beautiful even if you aren’t climbing a steep mountainside. Here are some trails that are sure to please:
The Lily Lake Trail encircles the pristine Lily Lake for 0.8 miles with very little grade, or incline. Located south of Estes Park in Rocky Mountain National Park, this trail is easy to access directly along Highway 7. The lake and trail are surrounded by beautiful forests of aspen and pine. Fishing is also allowed in the lake and both the pier and trail are wheelchair accessible.
A second wheelchair accessible, looped trail to explore is the Sprague Lake Nature Trail. Located inside Rocky Mountain National Park off of Bear Lake Road, this favorite spot offers an easy, but scenic stroll around the lake. Birds abound along this 0.5-mile path that features many benches for resting or just taking in the amazing views of the Continental Divide.
Enjoy an easy hike with a great payoff! These gloriously cascading falls are at the end of a 0.3-mile hike with little to no incline. This trail starts at the Wild Basin Trailhead in the Wild Basin area of the national park, south on Highway 7 from Estes Park. Option: Slightly more advanced hikers can continue on to Calypso Cascades along the Thunder Lake Trail for about another 1.1 miles. This journey involves a slight, 780-foot incline.
If you would like to challenge yourself a bit and spend a good part of the day hiking along beautiful trails, we have some moderate day hikes. They provide big views for a relatively short time on the trail. Pack a lunch or snack and wear layers!
One of the most popular hikes in the Estes Valley, the Gem Lake Trail starts at the Lumpy Ridge Trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park north of Estes Park off of Devil’s Gulch Road. While there is a slight incline of 968 feet, there are some rather steep spots. Up and back, this trail involves 3.4 miles in all and boasts some of the most spectacular views of the Estes Valley along the way. Tip: Look for a unique rock formation along the way, known as Paul Bunyan’s Boot; it looks like a boot with a hole in the sole.
One of the less traveled trails, the Finch Lake Trail is an excellent journey for birders and naturalists. At almost 10,000 feet, the swampy shoreline of Finch Lake provides the perfect habitat for local and migrating feathered friends to find respite. Starting at the Finch Lake Trailhead, follow the trail 4.5 miles, up 1,442 feet to the lake. The trailhead is located off of Highway 7 (south of Estes Park) in the Wild Basin area of Rocky Mountain National Park.
This stellar lake is the former home of the Fern Lake Lodge – a hotspot for winter adventure from 1916 to 1934. One of the more challenging ‘moderate’ day hikes, it covers a 3.8-mile section of trail with a 1,275-foot rise. terrain ending with spectacular views of Notchtop and Little Matterhorn. The Fern lake Trailhead is located centrally in the park, near the west end of Moraine Park, inside Rocky Mountain National Park.
These hikes are for experienced hikers only. Do your research on the Rocky Mountain National Park website and take all precautions necessary for safety.
This famous 14-er will test your skills. Getting an early start and carefully planning your route are important to making it off the peak before the afternoon showers tend to strike. The trailhead is located south of Estes Park, off of Highway 7.
Andrews Tarn & Andrews Glacier
This frigid, glacier-fed lake resides at over 11,000 feet. The journey will take you 4.6 miles and over 2,000 feet in elevation. For the technical climber, continue past the lake to the south to find the bulging Andrews Glacier. Depending on conditions, technical equipment is typically recommended for safe climbing. Access both points of interest from the Glacier Gorge Trailhead off of Bear Lake Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, following the Loch Vale Trail to the Andrews Creek Trail.
Winter hiking in Rocky can be quite different. Find details in the snowshoeing section.
For current trail conditions and more information on trails and hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park, please visit NPS.gov/ROMO.
Hiking is something everyone who comes to the area falls in love with. Whether you are walking around a peaceful stroll or climbing tougher trails, we have something for you!