Spring is in the air and after our enchanting winter season, many of you may be ready to trade in your snow shoes for hiking boots! There are so many things to do in and around Estes Park during the spring that we thought we would share our top 10 outdoor destinations in our Rocky Mountain backyard.1. Gem Lake LoopA popular year-round hike is the Gem Lake Loop. Located two miles from town along Devils Gulch Road, the trail begins at the Lumpy Ridge Trail Head and climbs steeply through private land. Once you pause to catch your breath, look behind you at the panoramic views of the Continental Divide. The loop is about a mile and a half and takes about an hour, even if you stop and smell the flowers.2. Homer Rouse Memorial TrailA local favorite is the Homer Rouse Trail, a pleasant three-mile round trip along the old right-of-way between Fish Creek and Lily Lake. The rarely crowded trail is open to runners, cyclists, horseback riders and those exercising their dogs.Park your car in the lot next to Fish Creek Road and walk the gravel road south along the border of Cheley Camp. To your left the meadow opens up to horse herds grazing under the watchful eye of Twin Sisters Mountain. After a half mile, the gravel road turns into a path that winds through a thick evergreen forest3. Enjoy a ride around Lake EstesThe path around sparkling Lake Estes is a 3.8-mile journey of beauty.Park at the Visitor Center parking lot and unloaded your bicycle or rent one of ours. As you start your exploration, you'll see Longs Peak reflected in the lake's still waters and family's of ducks enjoying the spring weather. Passing under a bridge, you may spy some fly fisherman stalking that perfect trout. After returning to the visitor center, you may want to take a stroll down our river walk to enjoy a refreshing beverage at any one of our local shops.4. Take a Walk To Birch RuinsFeel like stretching your legs and visiting a little local Colorado history? Take a few minutes and walk to the stone ruins perched atop a 75-foot-high rock outcropping overlooking Estes Park’s Elkhorn Avenue, the town’s main street.Cross the bridge at the north edge of the municipal parking lot and follow the path along Black Canyon Creek. To reach the ruins, continue along the path as it loops around to the north and gains altitude to the top of the Knoll. Before you know it you’re standing before the remains of a massive stone fireplace and turn-of-the-century stone masonry. The ruined walls frame a bird’s eye view of the village of Estes Park below.5. Golf in Estes Park Estes Park boasts two beautiful golf courses.Estes Park 18-Hole Golf CourseDesigned in 1917 by Dick Phelps and Henry Hughes, the Estes Park 18-Hole Golf Course is a par 71 regulation, 6,321-yard course that sits in a natural valley surrounded by spectacular mountains. The course opens April 15 so call 866-586-8146, ext 0 for tee times.Lake Estes 9-Hole Executive Golf CourseIf time’s at a premium, play the Lake Estes 9-Hole Executive Golf Course. The 2,209-yard course, with five par 3?s and four par 4?s, snakes around the Big Thompson River next to Lake Estes. The course will close April 15 and re-open for the summer season on May 13. Call 970-586-8176 for tee times.6. Picnic at Lily Lake A short drive up Highway 7 from Estes Park, you find the stunning alpine Lily Lake with stunning views of Longs Peak and Mount Meeker.The lake has sturdy picnic tables on the east shore and seems to be a favorite location for family reunions. The picnic tables are conveniently located near the parking lot but nestled up against the shore of the lake. After lunch, why not take a stroll along the 0.8 mile handicap accessible path? It is level and lined with logs, so it’s perfect for a wheelchair or a leisurely stroll?7. Enjoy and photograph stunning birdsBird watchers throng to the Matthews-Reeser Bird Sanctuary on the south side of Lake Estes during the spring migration. Our pristine, high-elevation habitat is home to more than 280 bird species, everything from hummingbirds and red tailed hawks to flycatchers, vireos, swallows, wrens, thrushes and warblers. Peregrine falcons make the Lumpy Ridge their home, and climbing routes are closed each year to protect their nesting areas.8. Come see the ElkWhere are the Elk? It's a question we get asked, but in the Spring they're not very hard to find! A quick trip around the golf course or even down town will almost guarantee a sighting of these majestic creatures. But they can be elusive sometimes, which makes spotting them even more rewarding. The elk herds go wherever the big bull tells them to go. They don’t care about Park boundaries or fences built to keep them out. They roam free and wild through Estes Park. Just the way we like it!9. Enjoy a day fishingIn the mountain streams and lakes of Rocky Mountain National Park, are four species of trout; German brown, rainbow, brook, and cutthroat. These are cold water fish and great for sport fishing. The lakes and streams surround and running through Estes Park also offer great fishing opportunities.10. Expand your horizons in Rocky Mountain National ParkRocky Mountain National Park’s 415 square miles encompass and protect spectacular mountain environments. Enjoy Trail Ridge Road – which crests over 12,000 feet including many overlooks to experience the subalpine and alpine worlds – along with over 300 miles of hiking trails, wildflowers, wildlife, starry nights, and fun times.Here at least 60 mountains exceed 12,000 feet, topping off at 14,259 feet on the football field-sized summit of Longs Peak. Names such as Cirrus, Chiefs Head, Isolation, Mummy, and Storm evoke the grandeur of this high landscape.Those are our top 10 things to do in Estes Park this spring. What are some of yours?
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