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Hiking Trail Report: Estes Park, Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park - May 30, 2024


Trail Report and Trail Conditions for Hiking in Estes Park, Colorado and the Rocky Mountain National Park.
Dream Lake in late May 2024

Hiking Trail Report: Estes Park, Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park


Overview

Estes Park, Colorado, serves as a gateway to the stunning Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP). The park and surrounding areas offer a diverse array of hiking trails, ranging from easy nature walks to challenging high-altitude treks. This report provides an overview of some of the most notable trails and trailheads within RMNP and the nearby National Forest trails accessible from Estes Park.


Current Expected Conditions (Late May 2024)

The weather in late May can be unpredictable. Snow and ice are still present at higher elevations, and many trails might have muddy sections due to melting snow. Lower elevation trails are generally dry and more accessible. Always check the latest trail reports and weather forecasts before heading out.


Rocky Mountain National Park Trails and Trailheads


1. Bear Lake Trailhead

  • Trailhead Location: Accessible via Bear Lake Road, approximately 12 miles from Estes Park.

  • Key Trails:

  • Bear Lake Loop: A 0.6-mile loop around Bear Lake, offering stunning views of the lake and surrounding peaks. Ideal for families and beginner hikers.

  • Current Conditions: Clear and accessible, some muddy patches. Snow and ice patches possible early in the morning.

  • Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, and Emerald Lake: A series of lakes reached via a moderate 3.6-mile round-trip hike. Each lake provides picturesque views and photo opportunities.

  • Current Conditions: Snow and ice still present, especially around Dream and Emerald Lakes. Microspikes recommended.

  • Lake Haiyaha: A 4-mile round trip hike from Bear Lake, offering a serene lake surrounded by rugged boulders.

  • Current Conditions: Snow and ice likely in shaded areas. Microspikes or traction devices may be needed.

2. Glacier Gorge Trailhead

  • Trailhead Location: Located along Bear Lake Road, about 0.3 miles before Bear Lake Trailhead.

  • Key Trails:

  • Alberta Falls: A 1.6-mile round trip hike to a beautiful waterfall, suitable for most hikers.

  • Current Conditions: Clear with some muddy sections. Ice possible near the falls in the morning.

  • Mills Lake: A 5.6-mile round trip hike leading to a scenic alpine lake with stunning views of Longs Peak and the surrounding mountains.

  • Current Conditions: Snow and ice present, especially in shaded areas. Traction devices recommended.

  • Black Lake: A challenging 9.6-mile round trip hike through varied terrain, ending at a breathtaking alpine lake.

  • Current Conditions: Snow and ice likely, particularly at higher elevations. Sturdy footwear and traction devices necessary.

3. Wild Basin Trailhead

  • Trailhead Location: Located off Highway 7, approximately 12 miles south of Estes Park.

  • Key Trails:

  • Copeland Falls, Calypso Cascades, and Ouzel Falls: A 5.4-mile round trip hike that passes by three waterfalls, each offering unique beauty and tranquility.

  • Current Conditions: Clear with muddy sections. Snow and ice patches possible near the falls.

  • Bluebird Lake: A strenuous 12.6-mile round trip hike to a stunning alpine lake surrounded by towering peaks.

  • Current Conditions: Snow and ice likely, especially at higher elevations. Traction devices and sturdy footwear necessary.

4. Longs Peak Trailhead

  • Trailhead Location: Off Highway 7, about 9 miles south of Estes Park.

  • Key Trails:

  • Longs Peak via Keyhole Route: A 14.5-mile round trip hike to the summit of Longs Peak, the highest peak in RMNP at 14,259 feet. This hike is extremely challenging and should only be attempted by experienced hikers.

  • Current Conditions: Snow and ice persist at higher elevations. Crampons, ice axe, and mountaineering skills required.

National Forest Trails Near Estes Park


1. Lumpy Ridge Trailhead

  • Trailhead Location: Just north of Estes Park, accessible via MacGregor Avenue.

  • Key Trails:

  • Gem Lake: A 3.4-mile round trip hike to a small, picturesque lake surrounded by interesting rock formations.

  • Current Conditions: Mostly clear with some muddy sections. Snow and ice possible in shaded areas.

  • Twin Owls Loop: A 7.2-mile loop offering stunning views of the Lumpy Ridge area, including the prominent Twin Owls rock formation.

  • Current Conditions: Clear with muddy sections. Snow and ice possible at higher elevations.

2. Hermit Park Open Space

  • Trailhead Location: Off Highway 36, approximately 2 miles southeast of Estes Park.

  • Key Trails:

  • Kruger Rock Trail: A 4-mile round trip hike to a panoramic viewpoint atop Kruger Rock, offering expansive views of Estes Park and the surrounding mountains.

  • Current Conditions: Mostly dry and clear, some muddy sections possible.

  • Limber Pine Trail: A 1.5-mile loop through a forested area, perfect for a short and easy hike.

  • Current Conditions: Clear and accessible, minimal mud.

3. Homer Rouse Trail

  • Trailhead Location: Accessed from Lily Lake, about 6 miles south of Estes Park on Highway 7.

  • Key Trails:

  • Homer Rouse Trail: A 3.8-mile out-and-back trail offering a moderate hike with beautiful views of Lily Mountain and the surrounding area.

  • Current Conditions: Clear with some muddy sections. Snow and ice possible in shaded areas.

Tips for Hikers

  • Preparation: Always carry plenty of water, snacks, a map, and a first-aid kit. Weather in the mountains can change rapidly, so dress in layers and be prepared for sudden changes.

  • Altitude: Many trails in RMNP are at high elevations. Take it slow, stay hydrated, and be aware of symptoms of altitude sickness.

  • Wildlife: Keep a safe distance from wildlife and never feed animals. Be aware of the potential for encounters with bears and mountain lions.

  • Leave No Trace: Follow Leave No Trace principles by packing out all trash, staying on designated trails, and respecting the natural environment.


Conclusion

Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park offer some of the most spectacular hiking opportunities in Colorado. Whether you're seeking a leisurely stroll around a picturesque lake or a challenging ascent to a mountain summit, the trails in this area provide something for every level of hiker. By preparing adequately and respecting the natural environment, you can enjoy a safe and memorable hiking experience in this beautiful region.

 

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