Hiking is one of the most popular outdoor activities in Estes Park. As the Base Camp to Rocky Mountain National Park, and surrounded by National Forest, there is no shortage of trails! Join us as we highlight a new trail each week! If you've made the trek before, let us know what you thought of the hike, or share any favorites you may have!
Estes Park Hiking Tips
Being one of the most popular activities, hiking trails and trailheads can get busy. Hike early (before 9 A.M.) or late (after 4 P.M.) to avoid the crowds and take advantage of the cooler weather. Use the shuttles! You can shuttle all of the way from the large parking lot at the Events Complex into Rocky Mountain National Park! Keep a close eye on the weather, especially during the summer afternoons when thunderstorms can roll in quickly. Remember to bring water, sunscreen and layers. Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints (on the trail), and don't touch or feed the wildlife! They are wild after all.
The Loch - January 13, 2017
Beginning from Glacier Gorge or Bear Lake, the hike to The Loch is beautiful. You'll pass by Alberta Falls, and climb through forests and valleys, ending, about 3 miles later, at The Loch. Staring directly across the lake is a dramatic Taylor Peak, imposing itself on the surroundings, even through the snow and clouds.
Cub Lake - January 6, 2017
Cub Lake is a moderate 4.8 mile round trip, with less than 600 ft elevation gain. Ringed with lily pads in the summer, and a beautiful, deep blue ice in the winter, this hike is a must-do no matter the season. Extend your trip and make it a loop, by continuing past Cub Lake to The Pool and the Fern Lake Trailhead!
Lake Haiyaha - December 23, 2017
Starting from Bear Lake Trailhead, the Lake Haiyaha trail makes a great winter hike or snowshoe! You'll get views of Bear Lake, Nymph Lake, Dream Lake (with about a 200 yard jaunt) and Longs Peak. This 4-mile round trip ends at a breathtaking alpine lake surrounded by big boulders. This trail is almost as fun to hike as it is to say.
Mills Lake - December 16, 2017
A wonderful winter hike. Starting from the Glacier Glacier Gorge Trailhead, you'll hike (or snowshoe) past a frozen Alberta Falls on your 5.3 mile round trip. At your destination, you'll come across a beautiful Mills Lake, nestled in the mountains with views of Longs Peak and Keyboard of the Winds.
Nymph, Dream & Emerald Lakes - December 9, 2017
This trio of lakes is one of the most popular hikes in RMNP, for good reason. And one of the best times to see it is the winter. The lakes freeze over, the peaks are snowcapped, and the frosted trees make you feel as if you're in a snow globe. At just over two miles round trip, with 450 ft of elevation gain, this is a fairly accessible trail, and one of the easiest ways to get an alpine lake experience in Rocky.
Bridal Veil Falls - September 9, 2017
Leaving from the Cow Creek Trailhead, you'll walk through mountain meadows with often seen wildflowers, wildlife and even aspen groves. After 3.1 miles you'll arrive at Bridal Veil Falls, tumbling down the rocks.
Alpine Ridge Trail - September 2, 2017
Now the Alpine Ridge Trail, leaving from the parking lot at the Alpine Visitor Center isn't necessarily long, it is most certainly uphill, and starting at an elevation of 11,796' you'll feel it! What makes this hike special, other than the drive up Trail Ridge Road along the way, and views across the vast tundra? Hiking it at sunset! You're afforded great views as mountain ranges go on forever and the setting sun turns the sky a beautiful pink or orange. If you're an early riser, sun rise is an amazing option as well! Don't forget some extra layers, the combination of the sun going down and high elevation make for a brisk hike!
Odessa Lake - August 19, 2017
This hike is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the Town of Estes Park's new, free parking structure, as well as the hiker shuttle. Hop on the shuttle at the Visitor Center, and ride all the way to Bear Lake. You'll have about a 3 mile climb as you head toward Odessa, but then it's all down hill from there. You'll get beautiful overlooks of the lake and Odessa gorge, before descending into the gorge, and getting right next to the lake. From there continue on down hill toward the Cub Lake trailhead, where the hiker shuttle will take you back to your car!
Hallett Peak - August 12, 2017
A 10-mile round trip hike with two summits and amazing panoramic views. Hikers climb over four miles to the summit of Flattop Mountain before crossing the saddle to begin the scramble up to Halllett Peak. Atop the peak you'll have amazing 360-degree views of seemingly-endless mountain ranges.
Thunder Lake - August 5, 2017
A strenuous 14 mile round trip with nearly 2200 feet in elevation gain, Thunder Lake certainly rewards the hiker with amazing views. Leaving from the Wild Basin Trailhead, you'll enjoy Copeland Falls, Calypso Cascade, and Ouzel falls all in the first three miles (read about this hike lower!) After that, you'll climb through the woods, as you get fleeting looks through the trees of the gorgeous surroundings. Finally ending at Thunder Lake.
Bierstadt Lake - July 28, 2017
A beautiful 2.4 mile round trip offering a wonderful lake destination. You'll gain elevation as you climb switchbacks along the moraine, until leveling out near the lake. This is a great trail to hike early, as the parking lot at the trailhead is small, and the lake will offer beautiful reflections early in the morning. Bierstadt also offers a gorgeous view as the sun sets over the continental divide. Don't forget you can also leave your car at the new parking structure in Estes Park and take the hiker shuttle from the Visitor Center.
Twin Sisters - July 21, 2017
It always feels good to bag a summit, and you'll certainly earn it on Twin Sisters. At a 7 mile round trip, with nearly 2500 elevation gain, this hike is a doozy, but once you get to the top, you're offered outstanding views of Longs Peak and the Continental Divide. This trail takes you above the tree-line, which is amazing, but also becomes a safety issue during the frequent afternoon thunderstorms. You'll have a wide view of any weather headed your way, so keep an eye out, and don't leave yourself exposed.
Gem Lake - July 14, 2017
A shorter hike, at only 3.5 miles round-trip, Gem Lake still hosts plenty of elevation gain! You'll climb 1,000 ft from the Lumpy Ridge Trailhead to your final destination. A small lake embedded among surrounding cliffs. Offering wonderful rocks to sit and enjoy the stillness, Gem Lake is a great place for a picnic!
Black Lake - July 8, 2017
A true alpine lake, with other treasures along the way. This strenuous hike takes off from Glacier Gorge Trailhead. You'll get a view of Alberta Falls en route to Mills Lake. This is a great place to stop for a beautiful view and grab a snack and water break. It can also be a great turning around place, if you don't want the full 9.6 mile round trip. However, trekking past Mills will reward you as you pass Jewel Lake and Ribbon Falls before reaching your final destination, Black Lake, a gorgeous alpine lake nestled among the mountains. Important Note: There was still quite a bit of snow on this trail! Take precautions like hiking poles and microspikes or other traction devices!
Ouzel Falls - July 1, 2017
Hike 5.4 miles round trip, and see three amazing waterfalls! Leaving from the Wild Basin Trailhead, you'll catch Copeland Falls, Calypso Cascade and finally Ouzel Falls. This is a fantastic late spring or early summer hike, as the falls are rushing with snow melt! A great hike for a hot day, as a majority of the trail is shaded, and Ouzel Falls provides a soothing mist to cool you off!
Deer Mountain - June 24, 2017
This 6.2 mile round trip hike leaves from the Deer Ridge Junction Trailhead. The perfect hike for anyone looking to bag a summit, but also hoping to limit the elevation gain (1210 ft.) and has a maximum elevation of just over 10,000 ft. The reward of this hike is gorgeous panoramas of Longs Peak and the Continental Divide to the south and west, along with views of the village and Estes Valley to the east.