10 Easy Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park

 

Rocky Mountain National Park offers unending picturesque landscapes. You’ll find a myriad of flora and fauna, dreamlike formations of rock, cascading waterfalls, and weaving paths that put you right in the center of it all. It’s the perfect escape, and it’s an unbeatable experience.

Now, folks are often overwhelmed when they make their first visit to The Park. After all, there are hundreds of miles of trails (in fact there are over 350 miles of trails within RMNP), and dozens of trailheads to explore. So where do you begin? Well, we’re here to help you find the right trail to fit your fitness level, as well as your aptitude at altitude—after all, Longs Peak (the tallest peak in The Park) tops out at a whopping 14,255 feet! Today, we’re going to point out 10 of the easiest hikes you can find in the park. Here’s our list of casual Rocky Mountain National Park Hikes:

1. Lily Lake Loop

Difficulty: .82 (easy)

Trailhead: Lily Lake Trailhead

Total Hike Length (Miles): .8

Elevation Min / Max (feet): 8,930 / 8,940

Features: The Lily Lake Loop is one of the easiest hikes in the park, and the trailhead is only about 6 miles from our resort. On the Lily Lake Loop, you’ll enjoy vistas of Lily Lake, as it reflects the surrounding mountain range. Take a moment to soak in Longs Peak, Meeker, and Estes Cone. Hike, picnic, fish, and relax. At only 10 feet of elevation change across the entire trail, the Lily Lake Loop is more of a walk in The Park than a hike, and it offers breathtaking beauty that can only be found in RMNP. Lily Lake Loop is handicap accessible.

2. Bear Lake Loop

Difficulty: .89 (easy)

Trailhead: Bear Lake Ranger Station

Total Hike Length: .8

Elevation Min / Max (feet): 9,475 / 9,520

Features: Bear Lake Loop is one of the most popular hiking loops in The Park, and it’s one of the flattest hikes. Bear Lake provides phenomenal views of aspen, making it one of the best hikes to try during the fall months. Take a stroll around the lake, and gaze upon the beauty of Glacier Gorge. View Longs Peak, Half Mountain, and Hallet Peak looming over the undulating terrain. The trail hugs the lake, occasionally weaving through packs of pine trees. Since Bear Lake is one of the most popular natural monuments here at RMNP, you may want to take the shuttle, instead of your car, especially during summer when the park is most popular. It’s about a 30 minute drive from Rams Horn Village to the Bear Lake Ranger Station trailhead. Bear Lake

3. Sprague Lake Loop

Difficulty: .92 (easy)

Trailhead: Sprague Lake Trailhead

Total Hike Length (miles): .9

Elevation Min / Max (feet): 8,690 / 8,700

Features: Sprague Lake offers up pristine, open views of Half Mountain, Thatchtop Mountain, Otis Peak, Flattop Mountain, Taylor Peak, Notchtop Mountain, and Hallett Peak, as well as much of the Continental Divide. You can also catch a glimpse of aspen groves on the hillsides surrounding the lake, making Sprague Lake another ideal spot to visit in autumn. Sprague Lake is considered a handicap accessible hike.

4. Copeland Falls

Difficulty: 1.01 (easy)

Trailhead: Wild Basin Trailhead

Total Hike Length (miles): .9

Elevation Min / Max (feet): 8,500 / 8,575

Features: If you’re looking for beautiful falls and a relatively easy hike, you’ve got to trek to Copeland Falls. Copeland Falls is about a 30 minute drive South from our resort. The trail is well shaded by pine trees, and it brings you to several cascading waterfalls, all along the North St. Vrain Creek. You can see both Upper Copeland Falls and Lower Copeland Falls on sections of this trail.

5. Alpine Ridge Trail

Difficulty: 1.02 (easy)

Trailhead: Alpine Visitor Center

Total Hike Length (miles): .6

Elevation Min / Max (feet): 11,796 / 12,005

Features: Alpine Ridge Trail is one of the highest hikes in The Park, yet it’s still relatively easy (aside from the thin air due to the altitude). From the Alpine Visitor Center Parking Lot, the Alpine Ridge Trail brings hikers a short hike to a completely open view of the Rockies. Since you’ll be above treeline (trees don’t grow above about 11,500 feet in Colorado), you’ll be able to see many of the highest peaks and ranges throughout the Rocky Mountains. The hike actually covers 225 manmade stairs that lead to the peak of the trail. While this hike is short (.6 mile roundtrip), it is a climb—there’s a reason the trail has been dubbed “Huffer’s Hill.” Take note, since the hike tops off at over 12,000 feet, weather can be cold and erratic, even in summer. It’s about a 50 minute drive from Rams Horn Village to the Alpine Visitor Center. Take note, parking may be limited in summer months.

6. Coyote Valley Trail

Difficulty: 1.03 (easy)

Trailhead: Coyote Valley Trailhead

Total Hike Length (miles): 1.0

Elevation Min / Max (feet): 8,870 / 8,885

Features: If you’re on the lookout for wildlife, then the Coyote Valley Trail is one of your best bets. This fairly flat trail takes visitors through the Kawuneeche Valley, which features a sprawl of grassland in the midst of the booming mountains that line the Never Summer range. Along this hike, you may see deer, moose, elk, coyotes, beaver, and plenty of species of birds, including eagles and kingfishers. Coyote Valley Trail is about an hour and 15 minutes from the resort, and the you’ll take Trail Ridge Road over Trail Ridge Pass. Trail Ridge Road is famous, since it’s the highest continuous paved road in the nation! Coyote Valley Trail is wheelchair accessible.

7. Lake Irene

Difficulty: 1.04 (easy)

Trailhead: Lake Irene Picnic Area

Total Hike Length (miles): .9

Elevation Min / Max (feet): 10,600 / 10,680

Features: Take a quick hike around Lake Irene. Lake Irene is one of the highest lakes in the park; it’s just below the continental divide. This secluded little lake is surrounded by pine trees, and the trail is fairly flat along its entire length. However, once again, since this lake is at elevation, it can be a bit winding—you’ll notice that the trees don’t grow quite so high around the lake since you’ll be near tree line. Take note, the parking lot is the highest point on this hike, so be prepared for the uphill jaunt back to your car! Halfway through the trail, you can also visit an overlook on the trail that displays a vista of Lake Irene and a nearby meadow (this portion of the trail is not part of the length calculation above). It’s about an hour drive from the resort to the Lake Irene Picnic Area.

8. Adams Falls

Difficulty: 1.09 (easy)

Trailhead: East Inlet Trailhead

Total Hike Length (miles): .9

Elevation Min / Max (feet): 8,390 / 8,503

Features: This hike is a good drive away from the resort. You’ll spend about an hour and a half on highway 34 heading towards Grand Lake before you reenter the Park to check out Adams Falls. That said, the drive is gorgeous, and you’ll sweep over the Continental Divide. Once you’re at Adams Falls, you’ll have a short hike to view falls along the East Inlet of Grand Lake. The aptly named Adams Falls Trail features a 55-foot waterfall. You can continue along the East Inlet Trail to view more of the river, as well as Lone Pine Lake, Lake Verna, Spirit Lake, and other gorgeous sites.

9. Holzwarth Historic Site

Difficulty: 1.13 (easy)

Trailhead: Holzwarth Historic Site

Total Hike Length (miles): 1.3

Elevation Min / Max (feet): 8,905 / 8,930

Features: The Holzwarth Historic Site, or Never Summer Ranch as it’s sometimes called, has a variety of cabins built in the early 1900s. This dude ranch has been preserved by the Nature Conservancy ever since the 1970s, and it retains much of its same rustic look.  You can read more about the Holzwarth Historic Site at Rocky Mountain Hiking Trails’ Holzwarth Historic Site Trail page. It’s just over an hour drive to get from Rams Horn Village to the Holzwarth Historic Site.

10. Tundra Communities Trail

Difficulty: 1.45 (easy)

Trailhead: Tundra Communities Trailhead

Total Hike Length (miles): 1.1

Elevation Min / Max (feet): 12,110 / 12,285

Features: The Tundra Communities Trail, AKA the Toll Memorial Trail, sits on top of the world. From this above-treeline vantage point, you’ll get a closeup look at high-country tundra, the flowers and plants it supports, and the animals that clamber across this the terrain. While the round trip hike for this path is just over a mile, it’s a bit demanding due to the elevation gain and the extreme altitude. It’s a hike that’s well worth it, though, as you’ll see unique mushroom-like rock formations just minutes from the parking pull-off. It’s a 40 minute car ride from our resort to the Tundra Communities parking area.


Join Us at Rams Horn Village

If you’re looking to hit the trails and experience the grandeur of Rocky Mountain National Park, stay with us here at Rams Horn–we’re just about as close as you can get to RMNP. Plus, we’re just a minute away from downtown Estes Park. Book a stay in one of our luxury cabins, and enjoy all of the magical views of the Rockies, the quaint mountain-town feel of Estes, and all of the luxuries of home (and more!). Schedule your stay at our resort today!