After work one day last week, my wife Lori made two sandwiches and we drove south on Highway 7 from Estes Park to Lily Lake, a stunning alpine lake under the watchful gaze of Longs Peak and Mount Meeker.What makes Lily Lake a great family destination is that it’s right along the highway, so it’s easily accessible for people of all ages. We pulled into the parking lot and a chorus of croaking frogs assaulted our senses.

We had a very wet May so the marshes along the trail were lush, and green and LOUD.The lake has sturdy picnic tables on the east shore. We had a family reunion several years ago and enjoyed a picnic there while watching the sun set behind the mountains. Instead of stopping at the tables, we struck out along the trail around the lake, which is only 0.8 miles long and handicap accessible. It is level and lined with logs, so it’s perfect for a wheelchair or a leisurely stroll. We walked past anglers fishing for the cutthroat trout and spotted a duck sitting in the thick grass.At the west side of the lake we took off on the Lily Ridge Trail, which climbs above and north of Lily Lake.

Here several bristlecone pines take on the tortured shape of bonsai trees. We found a bench with a wonderful view of Longs Peak and Lily Lake below. But the moment we pulled our sandwiches from our pack the mosquitoes appeared, ravenous for exposed flesh. I pulled out my Badger anti-bug balm and gave it to Lori so she could rub some onto the back of her neck. She handed it back and I chuckled when I read the back of the tin: “Go ahead, make my day, bug punks.

The bug balm did the trick and we could feel our blood pressure calm as we looked out on the hulking, tree-draped Twin Sisters Mountain to the east and majestic, snow-covered Longs Peak to the south. The sky clouded and began to spit rain, so we hustled down the trail to our car, chased by those bug punks who hadn’t gotten the message. The sun peeked out and, as we drove north toward Estes Park, we spotted a double rainbow over Carriage Hills.

Enjoy Lily Lake this evening. You’ll be talking about it for days. It's just one of the great places around Estes Park to discover!