|Trail Features:||Panoramic Views|
|Trail Location:||Lily Mountain Trailhead|
|Roundtrip Length:||4.0 Miles|
|Trailhead Elevation:||8780 Feet|
|Total Elevation Gain:||1180 Feet|
|Avg. Elev Gain / Mile:||590 Feet|
|Highest Elevation:||9786 Feet|
|Trail Difficulty Rating:||6.36 (moderate)|
|Parking Lot Latitude||40.31374|
|Parking Lot Longitude||-105.53533|
The Lily Mountain Trailhead is located roughly 5.8 miles south of Estes Park on Colorado Highway 7. There are small parking areas located on both sides of the road near the trailhead. If full, you can park at the Lily Lake parking lot, roughly a quarter-mile to the south, and walk back along the highway to the trailhead. Coming from Estes Park it's very easy to bypass the trailhead, as the trailhead marker is nearly impossible to see by motorists traveling southbound.
Hikers may want to note that the entire trail travels through the Roosevelt National Forest. Although not in the national park, the Lily Mountain Trail does appear on the official park map, as well as the National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map for Rocky Mountain National Park.
The trail starts off by following along the ridge just above Highway 7. Throughout this section you’ll have sporadic views of the Estes Park area.
At roughly four-tenths of a mile from the trailhead hikers will reach an area that received substantial damage during the September 2013 flood, including a massive landslide that has created a large scar down the mountainside. As a result, the trail was closed through June of 2014 in order for trail crews to rebuild the route through the washout area. This short section of trail, however, is easy to navigate through, and shouldn't pose a problem for anyone.
During the historic storm Estes Park received 9.4 inches of rain, while a rain gauge just south of Marys Lake reported 11.5 inches. The storm knocked out roads and bridges, stranded residents, and killed 8 people in the Front Range area. Rocky Mountain National Park also received significant damage to roads, bridges and trails, which kept most of the park closed for almost two weeks.
At roughly six-tenths of a mile the trail finally begins to ascend the mountain. At just over one mile the trail makes a sharp turn to the left, and begins heading in a southwesterly direction. As the trail climbs higher it becomes progressively steeper, and the terrain becomes more rugged. There will be lots of rocks and boulders to negotiate around throughout the upper portions of the trail. Fortunately almost the entire route passes through an evergreen forest, which offers a nice respite from the sun for late morning hikers.
At roughly 1.9 miles, as you near the top of the mountain, the trail becomes a little harder to read. There are cairns to help guide the way, and there's a sign posted on a tree that indicates the direction you should proceed. This last section of trail more or less becomes a rock scramble. You'll be using all fours to reach the top in some places, but for the most part it's relatively safe, and has very little exposure to steep drop-offs; provided you take your time and are careful. If you have an extreme fear of heights you may not want to do this hike. However, I can say for certain that it's well worth it.
Although the Lily Mountain Trail is not in the national park, it may as well be. Almost everything you can see from the summit is in Rocky Mountain National Park. Hikers will have outstanding panoramic views of Mount Meeker, Longs Peak, the mountains along the Continental Divide and in the Mummy Range, as well as Estes Cone and Twin Sisters Peak. In a word, the 360-degree views from the summit are quite spectacular.