Outdoor activities and adventurous recreation abound at Colorado’s Estes Park, some 112.5 kilometres (70 miles) from the state capital Denver. Estes Park sits enveloped by the Roosevelt National Forest and Rocky Mountain National Park, making it a top spot for hikes, treks, and camping sessions. Ranging from an array of exciting activities in the wilderness to insightful guided excursions, you’ll find just the right kind of experience here. To enjoy the best of hiking and trekking, head there during summer unless you go in for a change of plans for some snowshoeing, sledding, and ice climbing. Meanwhile, if you do stick with the former plan, here are the best hiking and trekking spots in Estes Park, Colorado that you can plan for.
1. Emerald Lake Trail
Emerald Lake Trail is hugely popular among tourists for the scenic views it allows along the route. The Nymph and Dream lakes fall along the way and make for ideal spots to stop for a breath as well as a ton of photographs. Hike a bit further and you can even catch some spectacular views of the Hallett Peak, Flattop Mountain, and Glacier Gorge, also equally photogenic. During peak seasons, it is recommended that you begin the hike as early in the day as possible to avoid crowds.
Emerald Lake Trail
Address: Trail Near Bear Lake, Bear Lake Road, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
2. Chasm Lake Trail
Some 15 kilometres (9.5 miles) long, Chasm Lake Trail is a consistent but pretty trying trek. It starts at Longs Peak Trailhead; the climb up till this point is gentle. However, it steepens as you go further. Due to the trail’s extreme popularity, those planning to make the ascent reach there as early as 3am to start the trek and avoid the crowding. June to October is considered the best time to take this trek. Chasm Lake – much like a glacial bowl – is surrounded on three sides by rocky, steep slopes and makes for an excellent resting spot. Even though you may be looking for solitude, don’t get annoyed if you don’t. The lake is rarely not heavily crowded!
Chasm Lake Trail
Address: Key Hole Route, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
3. Alberta Falls Trail
The hike to the beautiful Alberta Falls kicks off at Glacier Gorge Junction trailhead and is about 2.5 kilometres (1.6 miles) long. This one’s ideal for expert as well as novice hikers alike and can get pretty crowded for the same reason. Once at Alberta Falls, the destination, you can lose yourself in the beauty of the cascading water gushing through a granite chute. We recommend that you pack along lunch and sit back to enjoy a picnic here. Go down further into Alberta Falls Trail and you’ll reach the Loch (lake trail) and Black Lake.
Alberta Falls Trail
Address: Alberta Falls, Estes Park, CO 80517, United States
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4. Black Lake Trail
Among the best routes for bird-watching, photography, nature trips, and hiking is Black Lake Trail and the best time to hitch this hike is from March through October. Once at the gorgeous alpine Black Lake, not only will you be able to soak in the beauty that abounds the lake, but also a stunning view of McHenry’s Peak, The Spearhead, and Chief’s Head Peak. Insider’s tip: Start your hike from the parking lot at Glacier Gorge, instead of the one at Bear Lake, and you’d save on about a good 0.8 kilometre (0.5 miles) of distance till Bear Lake.
Black Lake Trail
Address: Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
5. Loch Trail
Moderately difficult, Loch (lake) Trail can take up to half a day from point to point. It is about 8.6 kilometres (5.5 miles) long and offers some of the most breathtaking views, especially from March through October. Once at the loch, the sight of canyons, set against a backdrop of towering silhouettes of the Rocky Mountains will leave you awestruck. Somewhere afar, you’ll even be able to spot Andrew’s Glacier. Not just the enchanting beauty, you may even enjoy a picnic by the lake or some fishing! The lake is rife with trout. Just remember to carry along the gear though.
Address: Glacier Gorge Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
6. Kruger Rock Trail
Kruger Rock at Hermit Park Open Space, 2 miles southeast of Estes ParkPosted by Larimer County Natural Resources on Friday, 10 July 2015
Kruger Rock Trail is about 6.5 kilometres (4 miles) long from point to point and is rated an intermediate hiking route. It is well-marked and even allows dogs (on leash)! The route is carpeted with grasslands, peppered with ponderosa pines and groves of quaking aspen, making for every bit an impressive sight. Among the most spectacular sights of this route is the view of the Colorado Front Range, boldly showcasing Mt. Wuh, Hallett Peak, and Longs Peak, whose dazzling 305 metre-high (1,000 feet) glacially carved face is called the Diamond. Moving forth, once you reach the final point, Kruger Rock, you’ll find a mammoth-sized rock, split in the middle, large enough for little ones to crawl into and play.
Kruger Rock Trail
Address: 3 miles (4.8 kilometres) east of Estes Park, at Hermit Park Open Space, Estes Park, CO
7. Ute Trail
Ute Trail, although a glorious trekking route, can be slightly confusing, especially for first-timers. One route of the trail runs from Fall River Pass’s Alpine Visitor Centre down Milner Pass and near Lake Poudre, and the other begins from Ute Crossing Trailhead along Trail Ridge Road. The latter is more commonly used and is an a lot easier climb. Since most part of the trek is above the tree line, trekkers are able to enjoy great views of the canyons, alpine tundra scenery, and also some animals, such as elk, coyotes, pikas, and others.
Address: Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO 80517
8. Mount Ida Trail
Mount Ida Trail appears to be an easy hike, but can get pretty challenging. Although, that won’t take away from how rewarding it will turn out to be. The 15.5km-long (9.6 miles) trail starts at Lake Poudre’s southern end and then takes hikers past a thick subalpine forest. Additionally, sporadic views of the Gorge Lakes and Never Summer Mountain range amplify the beauty. Do watch out for the elks and bighorn sheep that call this area their playground. Once at the summit of Mount Ida, enjoy marvellous panoramic views of the Inkwell Lake, Azure Lake, Highest Lake, and Arrowhead Lake along with the Gorge Lakes basin on the east and the Never Summer Mountain range on the west.
Mount Ida Trail
Address: Milner Pass, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
9. Knoll-Willows Open Space Trail
Another colorful sunrise happened this morning here in the mountains of Colorado. I decided to catch it at the...Posted by James Frank Photography on Friday, 26 October 2018
A trail carpeted with colourful wildflowers, lush greenery, and a not-so-challenging route will lead you up to Knoll-Willows Open Space. It lies in an 8-hectare (20 acres) park, with the final destination offering some stunning panoramic views of the town of Estes Park and Lake Estes. Plus, there are views of Longs Peak and Colorado’s Front Range Mountains of Rocky Mountain National Park as well. There are two trailheads that you can follow – North Trailhead south of East Wonderview Avenue or South Trailhead in the municipal parking lot – and both are equally fantastic. Do note that Knoll-Willows Open Space has recently been renamed Centennial Open Space.
Knoll-Willows Open Space Trail
Address: Estes Park, CO 80517, United States
10. Kirks Flyshop & Mountain Adventures
Not just trekking and hiking, enjoy some fly fishing too on your Rocky Mountain adventure. Kirks Flyshop & Mountain Adventures offers some excellent guided tours to 10 designated destinations. You can swim down the Colorado River, head to the streams on horseback, or trek up to the mountain lakes with llamas; they curate tons of amazing experiences! You could be a fishing expert or even a novice, but still have fun with the experiences Kirks Flyshop & Mountain Adventures puts together. The overall trip tariffs include the equipment and gear cost so you don’t need to pay anything extra.
Kirks Flyshop & Mountain Adventures
Address: 230 E Elkhorn Ave, Estes Park, CO 80517, United States
Website: Kirks Flyshop & Mountain Adventures
Opening hours: 7am - 6pm (daily)
Trekking gorgeous trails at Estes Park
While these best hiking and trekking spots in Estes Park, Colorado will keep you amply occupied, here are a few things that can cool off the tiredness – hitching a trip up the aerial tram to enjoy fabulous views, boating on Lake Estes, touring the many historic sites in town, or sitting down to relish crisp brews at some of the local breweries and distilleries in town. When not hiking or trekking, choose the activity you’d like busying yourself with and make yours a wonderful getaway!