Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most famous wilderness areas in the country. Comprising over 415 square miles, the park protects scenic mountain environments and wildlife.
Hikers also love to explore the vast expanse of the park; it offers over 355 miles of hiking trails and it’s easy to escape into the beauty of the expansive environment. With so many hiking options, it can be challenging to choose a trail and decide which sights to see from the long list of lakes, waterfalls and alpine terrain. Here are some suggestions on some of the best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Emerald Lake Trail
The Emerald Lake Trail is often regarded as the very best hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. On the way to the secluded spot, visitors will pass Bear Lake, Nymph Lake, and Dream Lake. Paved for the first 0.5 miles of the trail, hikers will enjoy an accessible entryway, while the difficulty level increases to moderate. The path provides excellent views of nearby peaks, including Flattop Mountain and Hallett Peak. With a trail that covers over 1.8 miles altogether, the elevation gain lies at 605 feet. This trail is excellent for families to explore, snowshoeing and fishing. You can find parking at the end of Bear Lake Road and visitors will enter through the Bear Lake Trailhead.
One of the best strenuous hikes in the Rocky Mountains, Mills Lake features 2.8 miles of stunning views and glimpses of Longs Peak and the Keyboard of the Winds. Located on the Glacier Gorge Trailhead, the hike to the lake is worth the effort and it’s often considered by many as one of the best views in Rocky National Park and hikers tend to picnic around the lake. In addition to the sub-alpine spot, visitors can also find waterfalls and rapids along the trail. All hikers can enjoy the bounty of nature at this spot and it’s encouraged that visitors take their time enjoying the wildlife along the way.
Sky Pond from Glacier Gorge Trail
Another popular hiking option amongst visitors, Sky Pond is a strenuous trail that offers adventure. Boating over 4.9 miles of trail path at an elevation of 1,710 feet, experienced and solo hikers, along with snowshoers, will enjoy this path. Along the way, visitors will pass waterfalls and numerous lakes. To reach Sky Pond itself, hikers will have to climb up the side of the waterfall before finding the Lake of Glass. Once you’ve reached the top of that climb, continue on for another 0.5 miles to find the tranquil Sky Pond.
Andrews Tarn and Andrews Glacier
While this trail is disguised as a hike to a glacier, it’s actually another hike to one of the many lakes in the area. However, this lake does have a glacier that flows into it. To find the location, hikers take the Glacier Gorge trail to its end beyond The Loch. Out of all the hikes in the National Park, this one will get you the closest to a glacier. At a length of 5.3 miles and 2510 feet in elevation, it’s sure to be a great workout for experienced hikers who can feel in tune with the ancient wonders of the park’s landscape.
Some people consider this hiking trail easy, but the route to Chasm Lake travels persistently uphill. With 8.8 miles of heavily trafficked trail, the location is easily found near Estes Park, Colorado. Once visitors reach above the treeline, they will see some stunning views along the path. To reach the lake, hikers need to follow cairns through a rocky scramble, the most strenuous part of the trail. The highlight, of course, is the up-close views of Longs Peak, the only 14er in the Rocky Mountain National Park. Visitors will also enjoy the beauty of the majestic, sloping rocks surrounding the lake with a beautiful waterfall. The trail is mainly used for hiking, horseback riding, snowshoeing and is best to travel from June through October.