9 Trails For Seeing the Most Beautiful Parts of Rocky Mountain National Park

From BBQ to Authentic Mexican Cuisine, Here’s Your List of the Best Restaurants You Can Find Near Rocky Mountain National Park!

Estes Park is a wonderful city in Colorado located right next to Rocky Mountain National Park. And as such, it is surrounded by great hiking trails that you can explore. And today I have a list of some of the best hikes you can find around Estes Park. I separated the list into different levels of difficulty so that way nobody sets out on a trail that is too long or too tough for them. Most of the hikes today can be found in the Rocky Mountain National Park so be sure to get a pass to the park in advance before you set out for the trails.

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A Great Spot to Grab A Lunch You Can Take On Your Hike

Grab a Subway gift card by following the link!

517 Big Thompson Ave | Estes Park | www.subway.com

Subway makes a great stop for anybody who needs to pack a lunch for their day out hiking in the sun. There’s a couple reasons for that too. First of all, you get to pick each part of the way your sandwich, wrap, or salad is made. Which means that you can eat as healthy as you want to. And on top of providing affordable healthy options, I also find that for the amount of food you get, Subway produces a pretty minimal amount of garbage. Which I just find convenient when you are out hiking and just helps minimize the effort it takes from all of us to keep our beautiful parks and hiking trails litter free. 

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

Get yourself a Subway gift card by following this handy link!

🏔 Easy Hikes 🏔

1 - Bear Lake Nature Trail

One of the Most Popular Hiking Trails At Rocky Mountain National Park

Length: .7 Miles | Estes Park | www.nps.gov/thingstodo/romo_bearlake

The Bear Lake Nature Trail is a nice short hike with beautiful scenery. On this 0.7 mile loop you will hike around beautiful Bear Lake. The only real issue with this hike is that it is so accessible and easy, that you are bound to see plenty of other people out enjoying the hike as well. In fact this hike is so popular that even if you go in the off season for the park, you are still likely to see plenty of other visitors snowshoeing around the lake. But the fact that this trail is so popular means that even though there is parking right by the trail head, you might have trouble finding a spot. But don’t worry because there are plenty of other great hikes to go in around the area!

“Really beautiful scenery and a short simple trail around the lake that branch off to other trails in the area.

This is probably the most popular location at Rocky Mountain National Park, so the trail head fills up on weekends and gets crowded quickly.” - Yelp Review 

2 - Sprague Lake

Gorgeous and Widely Accessible Stroll Around the Lake

Length: .8 Miles | Estes Park | www.nps.gov/thingstodo/romo_spraguelake.htm

The great thing about the hike around Sprague Lake is that it’s basically flat. There’s only 10 feet of elevation across the whole 0.8 mile hike. Which means that it is accessible by everybody, even people who need to use a wheelchair or have a stroller with them. It’s honestly really nice to be able to recommend a hike that everybody can enjoy. And since anybody can enjoy this hike, it means that anybody can enjoy the view of the lush forest and rolling mountains!

“Awesome trail for the whole family. Stroller friendly. Older folks friendly. Lots of brook trout to watch.” - Yelp Review

3 - Alberta Falls Trail

An Easy Hike to A Beautiful Waterfall 

Length: 1.6 Miles | Estes Park | www.nps.gov/thingstodo/romo_albertafalls

Alberta Falls Trail is a bit longer than our first two trails today. It’s around a mile and a half and you can expect to take around 45 minutes to complete the loop. But the great part about this hike is that it will take you to one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the whole Rocky Mountain National Park. And while this hike isn’t overly difficult, you can expect an elevation gain of around 160 feet over the course of the hike. But if you are up for it, you will be well rewarded when you get to watch Glacier Creek waterfall splash and fall from over thirty feet above you!

“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 

4 - Mitchell Lake Trail

A Popular Hiking Trail That Is Dog Friendly

Length: 1.9 Miles | Estes Park | www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/arp/recarea/?recid=28770

The Mitchell Lake Trail is another easily accessible route. It’s right around two miles long so you can expect it to take you around 45 minutes to complete the trip. Unlike some of the trails upcoming on the list, this one only takes you out past one lake. But it’s worth it for anybody who is hoping to bring their canine companion along on their hike because this is one of the few trails on the list today that is dog friendly. You’ll have to keep them on a leash, but it’s better than not getting to take them at all. 

“Totally a must yall. Beautiful area, so clean, happy trail friends everywhere, and we even saw moose.” - AllTrails Review 

5 - Dream Lake Trail

2 Mile Loop Hike That Takes You Past Three Gorgeous Lakes 

Length: 2 Miles | Estes Park | www.nps.gov/thingstodo/romo_dreamlake

The nice thing about the Dream Lake Trail is that it actually takes you around a couple of beautiful lakes. You’ll start from the Bear Lake Trailhead. After about half a mile you will come across Nymph Lake that is a little bit smaller than some of the other lakes in the area, but it is still quite charming and beautiful. And besides, it’s not even the main attraction on this trail. After you continue another half a mile you will reach the gorgeous Dream Lake. And since you just hiked a mile to get there, it’s a really great place to take a rest and soak in some of the natural beauty. But like with many of the easy trails around Estes Park, you can expect this one to get fairly busy as well. 

“Awesome spot! my wife and I hiked to it on Christmas and while it was windy the views  were incredible! Fairly easy hike and a great reward!” - Yelp Review 

6 - Emerald Lake Trail

A Breathtaking View of the Rocky Mountains

Length: 4 Miles  | Estes Park | www.nps.gov/thingstodo/romo_emeraldlake

So the hike to Emerald Lake is around four miles round trip. But the nice thing is that you can follow the same trail that took you past Bear Lake, Nymph Lake, and Dream Lake to get to Emerald Lake. So it’s really only about a mile further in than Dream Lake is. So if you decide you’ve gone far enough, you can call it there and still say you saw plenty on your hike. But if you decide you are enjoying your time hiking and want to keep going you can go all the way to Emerald Lake and keep enjoying the groves of beautiful trees and rolling mountainside. 

“Gorgeous hiking trail, probably the best in the entire park. Get your winter gear ready. This trail has very heavy foot traffic but the views are amazing and if you come from an area without much snow, it is a treat.” - Yelp Review 

🏔 Moderate Hikes 🏔

1 - Lake Haiyaha

A Hidden Gem On A Moderately Difficult Hike

Length: 4 Miles | Estes Park | www.nps.gov/thingstodo/romo_lakehaiyaha

This is another great trail that you can enjoy in a single afternoon because the 4 mile round trip should take you around 2 hours to complete. But the difficulty of this hike is a bit higher than any of those earlier on the list. There are places where the terrain and trail give way to rocky boulders. And if you want to get a spot at the parking lot, be sure to get there early in the day because it will fill up before you know 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 

2 - The Loch

A Serene Lake That You Can Reach From A Variety of Trail Combinations

Length: 5 Miles | Estes Park | www.nps.gov/thingstodo/romo_theloch

The Loch is one of the most sought after destinations in all of Rocky Mountain National Park. And if you check out some of the photos of it you will quickly see why. The serene water reflects the beautiful forest scape and rocky mountain skyline in a really beautiful way. There are a few different ways to reach this trail, and some of them are harder than others. So be sure to check out which trail, or combination of trails, will be the best for you. But no matter which way you decide on, you will be well rewarded with one of the most beautiful parts of the whole park.

“RMNP is by far one of my favorite parks. If you are hiking, there are amazing Hikes and I highly recommend starting at Bear Lake, and then doing the Loch, and Vail lakes as well. It's just stunning. if you are driving, you can drive throughout the park, stopping to see some beautiful sites. Get there early, as there is not much parking, but its the absolute best!” - Yelp Review 

🏔 Difficult Hikes 🏔

1 - Chasm Lake

Enjoy Views From the Highest Peak In the Whole Park

Length: 8.8 Miles | Estes Park | www.nps.gov/thingstodo/romo_chasmlake

The thing that makes this hike so special is the incredible views you get from Long’s Peak (the highest peak in the whole park), but this is one of the more difficult hikes you can go on around Estes Park. And as such it is recommended that you set out on this hike early in the morning and make sure to go in the summer. While most of the hikes on the list today are great anytime of year, you will be completely exposed to the elements for half of this hike and will want to take the appropriate precautions.

“Visited RMNP in the summer of 2015.  I would rank it in the top ten of all the national parks!  My friends and I went on a hiking trip and did the Chasm Lake, Lulu City, and Mount Ida trails.  Saw a moose up close and personal!!  Also witnessed a pack of sheep traveling past us along the mountain ridge.  Wildlife at this park is second to none.  And I've been to a lot of national parks.” - Yelp Review 

There you have it, the best hikes near Estes Park!

And there you have it! That is my list of some of the best hikes that are available around Estes Park Colorado. Unfortunately most of these hikes are in the Rocky Mountain National Park which means you will have to pay for entry to the park. But you can get a daily pass for around $30, or extend it into a seven day pass for only $5 more. And with all the incredible hikes to choose from, you will certainly get your money’s worth out of the pass. And if you are planning a whole trip to the Rocky Mountain National Park be sure to check out some of our other great articles on places to eat and things to do around the area!

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