7 Hikes Near Rocky Mountain National Park Perfect for Any Skill Level

The Best Hikes to Go On Near Rocky Mountain National Park

Good day and welcome to my article on the best hiking trails you can find in Rocky Mountain National Park. There were honestly too many great trails too fit in one article so I tried to get the best of the best for a variety of different experience levels. And as such I cut the article up into three categories. Easy trails, moderate trails, and difficult trails. And be sure to take that into consideration whenever you are picking out a trail. You don’t want to get two hours into a hike and realize you forgot your supplies.

I also took a minute to throw some great food options at the top of the list that I have found convenient stops on my days hiking one of the national parks. And the great thing is that you can get a convenient digital GiftYa gift card to them. A GiftYas digital format makes it incredibly convenient for when you are planning a day of hiking. Since they are stored entirely on your phone, it’s just one less thing you have to worry about packing!

Dunkin Donuts

Great Early Morning Breakfast Before A Hike

Grab a Dunkin Donuts gift card by following the link!

2801 S College Ave | Fort Collins  | dunkindonuts.com

Dunkin Donuts is a great place to grab breakfast on the road if you are running late to the park one morning. You can get a wide variety of donuts  and small breakfast sandwiches as well as all sorts of coffee concoctions. 

“Great service and perfect timing if you want a decently quick breakfast. The food is a great quick pickup if you need something tasty and quick.” - Yelp Review 

You can grab a digital Dunkin Donuts gift card for you or a loved one by following the link!


Great For A Quick Lunch You Can Take On the Trails With You

Grab a Subway gift card by following the link!

517 Big Thompson Ave | Estes Park | subway.com

I really like Subway for the days I’m out hiking. You can choose every part of your sandwich, wrap, or salad so you can be sure to get all the nutrients you need for a midday meal on the trails. But more importantly, I find you get a hefty amount of food, for a very small amount of garbage. Which in my opinion just makes it even easier to help keep our beautiful national parks clean!

“Perfect. Fresh food ( breakfast and lunch) prepared well with a kind smile. Definitely would suggest stopping for healthy choice.” - Yelp Review 

You can get a Subway gift card by following this link!

But enough about places to grab food before the hikes, let’s get to that list of best trails in Rocky Mountain National Park you came here for!

Easy Hikes

1 - Bear Lake Nature Trail

Shortest and Most Popular Hike In Rocky Mountain National Park

.7 Miles | 15 Minutes  | rockymountainnationalpark.com

You can find this trail at the very end of Bear Lake Road. You can expect to find a parking lot here, but if you want to get a space, be sure to get here early in the morning, as this hike's popularity causes the lot to fill up quickly.

The nice thing about this trail is that it is a nice short walk around the lake. It’s under a mile so it probably won’t take you any longer than 20 minutes to complete. And that’s if you stop and take a selfie in front of the gorgeous scenic lake views.

“Gorgeous lake with unbeatable views! Plus a trail that is accessible to everyone and close to parking. The only catch is finding parking...” - Yelp Review 

2 - Alberta Falls Trail

You Can Find One of the Most Popular Waterfalls In the Park On This Trail

1.5 Miles | 45 Minutes | rockymountainhikingtrails.com

To find this trail, you will want to start from the Glacier Gorge parking lot. Which is another one you will want to get to early because the waterfall's popularity causes a lot of people to park and hike this trail.

The downside is that once you find parking you can start hiking towards the waterfall, and it’s mostly uphill. That being said, it is a pretty easy uphill climb and shouldn’t be too strenuous for most people. The nice thing about this trail is that it is short enough that you can fit it into a day where you see a couple of nice trails while you hike around the park. It’s only about a mile and a half, round trip, but remember that half of that is an uphill climb. 

“Really beautiful hike and easy 1 mile from the bear lake trailhead. Highly recommend and it's on the way to a bunch of other lakes and falls as well. Make sure to reserve on the system ahead of time to get into the park.” - Yelp Review 

3 - Emerald Lake Trail/Dream Lake Trail

See 4 Lakes On Just 1 Hiking Trail

4 Miles | 2 Hours | rockymountainnationalpark.com

To find the Emerald Lake Trail and Dream Lake Trail you will start at the end of Bear Lake Road. From there you will find the trail for Emerald Lake or Bear Lake. And if you follow the longer trail, it will take you roughly 2 hours to complete because it is around a 4 mile hike. But for each mile of that hike you get to see a different lake. The lakes you will see in order are  Bear Lake, Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, and Emerald Lake. And although this hike is on the longer side, it is still considered a fairly easy route that should be accessible to most.

And I really can’t do justice to the beautiful scenery and views you will encounter on this hike, so if you want a taste be sure to check out the Yelp page and official webpage to get an idea of some of the views you can encounter on the way. This is one of the most popular hikes in the entire Rocky Mountain National Park so if you want to see the essentials of the park without breaking your back definitely take this trail. 

But be warned, many previous hikers warn that it can get quite slippery in the winter. Although they allow hiking in the park in the winter, I would strongly urge you to visit in the spring or summer instead if you aren’t an experienced winter hiker.

“Knocked this little gem of a hike off in mid August. Perfect time of year, no snow to speak of. Camping was great, 38 over night. The trail is well Maintained, lots of foot traffic. When I'm RMNP do check this hike out. Perfect for beginners and true back packers as well” - Yelp Review

Moderate Hikes

1 - Gem Lake Trail

Moderate Level Hike With A Lake At The Top of The Incline

3 Miles | About 2 Hours  | rockymountainhikingtrails.com

If you are looking for a hike that is a bit more challenging than some of the ones further up the list, or you are just looking for a trail that is a little less busy than the easy trails, then be sure to check out the Gem Lake Trail. This trail is only 3 miles long, but due to the elevation change required to complete it, it will take about 2 hours round trip. But that is because the first half of the trip is practically straight uphill. But once you get to the top you will discover Gem Lake. And since this trail is a lot less traveled than some of the others the name will truly fit. The hidden gem at the top of the trail makes the whole climb worth it. 

“Difficult hike for people who aren't used to the altitude changes  But totally worth it. Take lots of breaks and bring lots of fluids and snacks. The lake at the top is well worth the hike and a beautiful place to relax.” - Yelp Review 

2 - Lake Haiyaha

Great Hiking Trail That Is A Little Less Explored Than The More Popular Trails

4 Miles | 2 Hours  | rockymountainhikingtrails.com

Lake Haiyaha is another one of the beautiful lake trails that you can hike. The nice thing about Lake Haiyaha is that it isn’t too far from the popular Dream Lake Trail, but since the hike is a bit longer, there is less of a crowd for this one. You can still expect the same breathtaking views, you can just expect to spend an hour longer hiking in order to see it. 

“Hiking out to Lake Haiyaha was my favorite stop while in Rocky Mountain National Park. Although it's only about a mile away from Dream Lake, it seems to be far less traveled and super secluded. It was kind of like a hidden treasure that was just waiting to be explored.” - Yelp Review 

Difficult Hikes

1 - Sky Pond via Glacier Gorge Trail

Voted One of the Best Trails In Rocky Mountain National Park

9.4 Miles | 4 Hours 30 Minutes | rockymountainhikingtrails.com

Voted one of the best things to do in Rocky Mountain National Park, this is my number one hiking trail for experienced hikers. Anybody is welcome to give it a try, but it’s nearly a five hour hike and I wouldn’t sign up for it if I were you until I mastered some of the easier trails first!

“Unbelievable, best hike I have ever done. I have done it three times.

This Time the mosquitoes were bad, I have never encountered that before.

Get going early, bring a lunch and water. I brought 10 oz. and had a life straw. Filled the water up a two different streams. Go all the way to the end, past the waterfall.” - Trip Advisor Review

2 - Chasm Lake

The Other Most Popular Difficult Hiking Trail In the Park

8.8 Miles | 5 Hours and 15 Minutes | rockymountainhikingtrails.com

Chasm Lake isn’t nearly as popular as Sky Pond is. So if you are looking to totally get away from the world and unwind in nature then this is going to be the hike for you. Only for experienced hikers, this trip will take you up to Chasm Lake and back around. But the trip is nearly 9 miles so be prepared to take at least five hours for this one!

“Same feeling with others: tough but rewarding. Weather changes quickly, be prepared. High altitude, it’s better to keep warm. At last, bring enough water as always.” - Trip Advisor Review

And there you have it! That is a list of the absolute best hiking trails you can find in Rocky Mountain National Park. I hope you found a trail that met the requirements you were looking for. I tried to keep them separated the best I could so you can easily find the trail that’s right for you. But after you are done exploring Rocky Mountain National Park be sure to check out some of the other exciting things there are to do around the Estes Park area. And if you are hungry after a long day of hiking be sure to check out our article on the best restaurants in the area too!

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