Chances are if you’ve chosen Estes Park as your vacation destination, one of your goals is to experience the organic beauty and astonishing landscapes the location has to offer! With easy access to Rocky Mountain National Park—only a few miles away from Misty Mountain Lodge—your best bet is to head out to conquer one of the many gorgeous hikes it has to choose from.
We understand that intense climbs with challenging landscapes are not always ideal, even when you’re looking for the best views of the park. Maybe you’re on vacation with your family and looking for a child-friendly trek, have physical limitations that prevent you from steep and prolonged climbing, or maybe you’re just a beginner looking for a simple option for exploring the Rockies.
Those are just a few of the reasons we’ve decided to highlight a couple of easy, dazzling hikes for you to start with during your visit to Rocky Mountain National Park. Check out what these trails entail and the scenic views they have to offer the amateur hiker!
1.) Lily Lake
This beginner hike affords spectacular lake and wetland views as well as wildflowers in the warmer seasons. It’s only about a mile roundtrip, increases around 10 feet in elevation, and the trail itself is made of packed gravel that keeps it level and easily accessible for beginners, handicapped individuals, and families.
This loop is more of a walk than a hike and offers fun activities like fishing, educational exhibits, and picnic areas for families to stop and enjoy a picturesque lunch. You’ll reach great viewpoints that allow you to fully absorb and appreciate the beauty of Long Peaks, Mount Meeker, and Estes Cone.
2.) Bear Lake
Bear Lake is one of the most popular and least challenging hikes in the park at just over three-quarters of a mile, and with a total gained elevation of 45 feet. It’s ideal for families and older individuals, as there are frequent rest stops and benches that allow you to catch your breath. There are a few steep sections to be aware of but overall, it’s one of the flattest hikes you’ll find. It’s often suggested that you start this one early if you want to avoid dense crowds.
This trek is more of a nature trail, so be sure to grab a guide booklet to learn about the various wildlife and mountainous sights you may come across. The hard-packed surface makes it an easy, enjoyable walk to reach outlooks for Hallett Peak, Longs Peak, Half Mountain, and Glacier Gorge.
Bear Lake also serves as a stopping point along the way to several other more challenging destinations, in case you’re feeling ambitious and can’t get enough of that Rocky Mountain scenery.
3.) Dream Lake
One of those Bear Lake Loop offshoots directs you along the opulent trail to Dream Lake. The hike is just a little over two miles roundtrip and is another one with a low elevation increase of 450 feet. It may be a little more challenging than the previous two, as it does include a short, steep climb—but we promise it’ll be worth it.
On your way to your destination you’ll pass the brilliant Bear and Nymph Lakes, and find more stunning views of Longs Peak, Glacier Gorge, Flattop Mountain, and Hallett Peak. This is another popular one you’ll want to get a jump on early in the day.
Due to the wear of the constant influx of foot traffic, much of the Dream Lake trail is paved. The lake itself is unique in its remarkable reflection of its gorgeous surroundings, and in how each spot around the water offers a different astounding perspective of the Rockies. From Dream Lake you can choose to keep trekking to the equally as striking Emerald Lake, if you feel so inclined.
4.) Ute Trail
This hike is the longest of the four we’ve chosen with a, mostly flat, four-mile trail. One of the most breathtaking aspects of the Ute Trail is that it runs at treeline level, so you can get an incredible glimpse of the park through the eyes of the birds! It does involve two short climbs—but the views you’ll have will make it hard to believe that’s all the climbing you had to do.
The Ute Trail boasts amazing, wide-ranging views of the alpine tundra, wildflowers, Longs Peak, Forest Canyon, Big Thompson River, Moraine Park, and Estes Park.
At Misty Mountain Lodge, we’re all about making your vacation relaxing and comfortable. That’s why we offer a location rooted in the serenity of natural surroundings, but also conveniently located right near the bustling heart of Estes Park. Let us help you fill your vacation with leisure, excitement, and beauty— book one of our lavish, affordable rooms today!