|The Best Easy Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park|
"...there are those you can call nothing but tourists. Those that go tearing from coast to coast and back again on their vacations are tourists. When they reach home from their travels they are not certain where they saw this or that..."
- Abner Sprague, early settler and lodge owner in the Estes Park area
While creating my list of the Top 10 Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, I realized that many of the trails that made the list were fairly long day hikes, which obviously won't appeal to everyone. So I decided to start from scratch and build a new list, based on the best of the easier hikes in Rocky Mountain. Hopefully you'll find this helpful as a starting point in trying to decide where to hike during your visit.
Emerald Lake - The hike to Emerald Lake takes you deep into the Tyndall Gorge, and visits three other beautiful subalpine lakes along the way. Although Bear Lake and Dream Lake are nice stops, Emerald Lake is the true gem in this chain of lakes fed by the Tyndall Glacier.
Ute Trail - Want great panoramic views without having to climb a lot of elevation? The Ute Trail is the perfect choice. This relatively flat hike along Tombstone Ridge offers hikers the chance to explore the alpine tundra zone, while soaking in the outstanding views of Forest Canyon, Longs Peak, Moraine Park and Estes Park.
Dream Lake - You don’t have to go all the way to Emerald Lake to see beautiful lake scenery in the Tyndall Gorge. Dream Lake is quite stunning in and of itself.
Tundra Communities Trail - You’ll feel like you’re on top of the world on this hike, and at nearly 12,300 feet, you’ll be pretty close. The trail begins from Rock Cut, near the highest point on Trail Ridge Road, and visits a memorial to Roger Toll, the superintendent of Rocky Mountain National Park from 1921 to 1929. Along the way, as you might guess from the name, the trail passes through alpine tundra, and provides panoramic views of the surrounding mountains for its entire length.
Bierstadt Lake Loop - Although the trail gains roughly 600 feet over the course of its first mile, the relatively short distance still qualifies this as an easy hike. The grand views of the Continental Divide from this scenic lake make the effort worth it.
Sprague Lake - Trails in Rocky Mountain National Park don’t get much easier than this. This completely flat 0.9-mile loop offers outstanding views of the Continental Divide. If you enjoy photography, I highly recommend starting this one in the early morning to get some nice mountain reflections in the water.
Big Meadows - This pleasant hike offers expansive views, wildflowers, a little bit of solitude, and a chance to see wildlife such as moose and elk.
Bear Lake - The Bear Lake area is one of the most popular places in the entire park. To avoid the crowds, and see some spectacular reflections of Hallett Peak and Longs Peak in the water, I highly recommend starting this hike first thing in the morning.
Alberta Falls - Alberta Falls is probably the most scenic waterfall in the park, thus making it one of the most popular destinations in the park. A fair amount of aspens along the trail also makes this is a great fall hike.
Lily Lake - The Lily Lake Loop is another easy hike, suitable for the entire family. The hike offers outstanding views of Lily Mountain, Estes Cone, as well as Mt. Meeker and Longs Peak, the two highest peaks in Rocky Mountain National Park. The lake is a great setting for a picnic.
If you’re seeking trails that explore deeper into the backcountry of the park, check out our list of the Top 10 Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park.
While planning your visit, be sure to visit our accommodations page for a variety of lodging options in the Rocky Mountain National Park area.