Best Hiking Trails in Rocky Mountain National Park

View of Rocky Mountain National Park
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Rocky Mountain National Park is a hiker’s paradise, boasting over 355 miles of hiking trails that showcase the park’s stunning mountain peaks, alpine lakes, and lush meadows. From easy strolls to challenging summits, the park offers something for everyone, whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a first-time visitor. In this guide, we’ll explore the top 10 hiking trails in Rocky Mountain National Park, each offering a unique perspective on this magnificent wilderness. So lace up your hiking boots, grab your water bottle, and let’s hit the trail!



Emerald Lake Trail

Trail Length: 3.6 Miles | Difficulty Level: Moderate | Elevation Gain: 650 Feet | Trailhead: Bear Lake Trailhead

Rocky Mountain National Park is a hiker’s paradise, boasting over 355 miles of hiking trails that showcase the park’s stunning mountain peaks, alpine lakes, and lush meadows. From easy strolls to challenging summits, the park offers something for everyone, whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a first-time visitor. In this guide, we’ll explore the top 10 hiking trails in Rocky Mountain National Park, each offering a unique perspective on this magnificent wilderness. So lace up your hiking boots, grab your water bottle, and let’s hit the trail!

Reasons to Hike Emerald Lake Trail:

  • Spectacular Alpine Lakes: The trail leads hikers to three stunning alpine lakes: Dream Lake, Nymph Lake, and Emerald Lake, each with their own unique beauty.
  • Scenic Views: Along the way, hikers will be treated to breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, including Flattop Mountain, Hallett Peak, and Longs Peak.
  • Moderate Difficulty: With a gradual incline and a few steep sections, the trail is rated as moderate, making it accessible for most hikers.
  • Wildlife Watching: Keep an eye out for the park’s diverse wildlife, including elk, marmots, and bighorn sheep, which are often spotted on or near the trail.
  • Year-Round Access: The trail is open year-round, offering a variety of seasonal experiences, from wildflowers in the spring to fall foliage and snowshoeing in the winter.

Recommended Gear: Hiking Boots, Daypack, Trekking Poles, Water Bottle, Sunscreen, Insect Repellent, Camera


Alberta Falls Trail

Trail Length: 1.7 Miles | Difficulty Level: Easy | Elevation Gain: 200 Feet | Trailhead: Glacier Gorge Trailhead

The Alberta Falls Trail is one of the most popular hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, offering a relatively easy hike with breathtaking views of a stunning 30-foot waterfall. The 1.7-mile roundtrip trail meanders through a picturesque forest of aspen and pine trees and leads hikers to the base of the falls, where they can enjoy the cool mist and serene surroundings.

Reasons to Hike Alberta Falls Trail:

  • Picturesque Forest Setting: The trail takes hikers through a beautiful forest of aspen and pine trees, providing a tranquil and serene atmosphere.
  • Easy Hike: With a roundtrip distance of 1.7 miles and a moderate elevation gain of 200 feet, the hike is relatively easy and accessible for most hikers.
  • Breathtaking Waterfall: The trail leads to the stunning 30-foot Alberta Falls, where hikers can enjoy the cool mist and take in the breathtaking views.
  • Wildlife Watching: Keep an eye out for wildlife such as elk, deer, and moose, which are often spotted along the trail.
  • Year-Round Access: The trail is accessible year-round, offering a different experience in each season, from lush greenery in the summer to frozen waterfalls and snowshoeing in the winter.

Recommended Gear: Hiking Shoes, Daypack, Water Bottle, Snacks, Sunscreen, Hat, Camera


Sky Pond Trail

Trail Length: 8.5 Miles | Difficulty Level: Strenuous | Elevation Gain: 1,750 Feet | Trailhead: Glacier Gorge Trailhead

The Sky Pond Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park is a challenging and rewarding hike that offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and alpine lakes. The 8.5-mile roundtrip trail takes hikers through a picturesque forest and past several waterfalls before reaching the spectacular Sky Pond, which is surrounded by towering cliffs and glaciers. This hike is a must-do for experienced hikers looking for a challenge.

Reasons to Hike Sky Pond Trail:

  • Breathtaking Alpine Views: The trail offers panoramic views of some of the most spectacular alpine scenery in the park, including majestic mountains, glaciers, and alpine lakes.
  • Challenging Hike: With a distance of 8.5 miles and a steep elevation gain of over 1,800 feet, the hike is challenging and best suited for experienced hikers.
  • Stunning Waterfalls: The trail passes by several beautiful waterfalls, including Alberta Falls and Timberline Falls, adding to the overall beauty of the hike.
  • Spectacular Sky Pond: The trail leads hikers to the stunning Sky Pond, which is surrounded by towering cliffs and offers a peaceful and serene setting to enjoy the beauty of the park.
  • Unique Experience: The Sky Pond Trail is one of the most unique hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, offering a challenging and unforgettable experience for hikers looking to push themselves and take in some of the most beautiful scenery in the park.

Recommended Gear: Hiking Boots, Trekking Poles, Daypack, Water Filter, Rain Jacket, Snacks, Headlamp


The Loch Trail

Trail Length: 5.2 Miles | Difficulty Level: Moderate | Elevation Gain: 1,050 Feet | Trailhead: Glacier Gorge Trailhead

The Loch Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park is a scenic and moderately challenging hike that takes hikers through a beautiful forest and past several mountain lakes before reaching the stunning Loch Vale. With a roundtrip distance of 5.9 miles and a moderate elevation gain, this hike is a popular choice for hikers of all levels looking for a rewarding and picturesque experience in the park.

Reasons to Hike The Loch Trail:

  • Stunning Mountain Lakes: The trail passes by several beautiful mountain lakes, including Nymph Lake and Dream Lake, each with its unique beauty and character.
  • Scenic Views: The trail offers picturesque views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, providing a stunning backdrop for the entire hike.
  • Moderate Difficulty: With a moderate distance of 5.9 miles and a moderate elevation gain, The Loch Trail is a great option for hikers of all levels looking for a challenge without being too strenuous.
  • Waterfalls and Wildflowers: The trail is home to several beautiful waterfalls and wildflower meadows, adding to the overall beauty of the hike.
  • Loch Vale: The trail leads hikers to the stunning Loch Vale, a peaceful and serene alpine lake surrounded by towering mountains and glaciers, making it an ideal spot for a rest and to take in the beauty of the park.

Recommended Gear: Hiking Boots, Trekking Poles, Daypack, Water Bottle, Snacks, Sunscreen, Rain Jacket


Chasm Lake Trail

Trail Length: 8.4 Miles | Difficulty Level: Strenuous | Elevation Gain: 2,480 Feet | Trailhead: Longs Peak Ranger Station

The Chasm Lake Trail is one of the most popular and breathtaking hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. The trail takes hikers on a challenging journey through a beautiful alpine landscape, past waterfalls, and through a boulder field before reaching the stunning Chasm Lake, with its crystal-clear waters and stunning mountain views. With a distance of 8.4 miles and a challenging elevation gain, this hike is not for the faint of heart but is a must-do for experienced hikers.

Reasons to Hike Chasm Lake Trail:

  • Stunning Mountain Views: The trail offers breathtaking views of Longs Peak, Mount Meeker, and several other surrounding mountains, providing hikers with a truly unforgettable experience.
  • Challenging Hike: With a distance of 8.4 miles and a challenging elevation gain, the Chasm Lake Trail is a great option for experienced hikers looking for a more challenging hike in Rocky Mountain National Park.
  • Unique Features: The trail takes hikers past several unique features, including waterfalls, a boulder field, and alpine meadows, adding to the overall beauty and excitement of the hike.
  • Chasm Lake: The trail leads hikers to the stunning Chasm Lake, with its crystal-clear waters and towering mountain backdrop, making it a perfect spot for a rest and to take in the beauty of the park.
  • Wildlife Watching: The trail is home to several species of wildlife, including marmots, elk, and bighorn sheep, making it an excellent option for hikers interested in wildlife watching.

Recommended Gear: Hiking Boots, Backpack, Water Bottle, Snacks, Sunscreen, Hat Sunglasses


Cub Lake Trail

Trail Length: 4.8 Miles | Difficulty Level: Moderate | Elevation Gain: 550 Feet | Trailhead: Moraine Park Area

The Cub Lake Trail is a beautiful and relatively easy hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. With a distance of 4.8 miles round trip and an elevation gain of 800 feet, this trail is a great option for hikers of all levels, including families with young children. The trail takes hikers through lush forests and meadows, past a serene lake, and offers stunning mountain views.

Reasons to Hike Cub Lake Trail:

  • Scenic Beauty: The trail takes hikers through picturesque forests, meadows, and past a serene lake, offering stunning mountain views.
  • Easy Accessibility: With a distance of 4.8 miles round trip and an elevation gain of 800 feet, the trail is relatively easy and accessible for hikers of all levels.
  • Wildlife Viewing Opportunities: The trail is home to a variety of wildlife, including elk, deer, and moose, as well as a wide array of bird species.
  • Year-Round Accessibility: The trail is open year-round, making it a great option for hiking in all seasons.
  • Relaxation: The serene lake and beautiful natural surroundings provide the perfect opportunity for a peaceful and relaxing hike.

Recommended Gear: Hiking Boots, Daypack, Water Bottle, Snacks, Sunscreen, Insect Repellent, Camera


Lake Haiyaha Trail

Trail Length: 4.2 Miles | Difficulty Level: Moderate | Elevation Gain: 850 Feet | Trailhead: Glacier Gorge Trailhead

The Lake Haiyaha Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park offers a beautiful and challenging hike through stunning mountain scenery. With a moderate difficulty level and a length of around 4 miles, this trail features a picturesque alpine lake and panoramic views of the surrounding peaks. The trailhead is easily accessible from Bear Lake Road, making it a popular choice for hikers of all experience levels.

Reasons to Hike Lake Haiyaha Trail:

  • Alpine Lake: The trail leads to the picturesque Lake Haiyaha, which is a must-see for hikers in the park.
  • Stunning Views: Throughout the hike, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
  • Challenging Terrain: The trail is moderately difficult, with some steep and rocky sections that provide a good workout for hikers.
  • Wildlife Sightings: Keep an eye out for wildlife along the way, including elk, moose, and birds of prey.
  • Accessible Trailhead: The trailhead is located on Bear Lake Road, making it easy to reach and a popular choice for hikers of all experience levels.

Recommended Gear: Hiking Boots, Daypack, Trekking Poles, Water Bottles, Sunscreen, Sunglasses, Hat


Flattop Mountain Trail

Trail Length: 8.8 Miles | Difficulty Level: Strenuous | Elevation Gain: 2,850 Feet | Trailhead: Bear Lake Trailhead

Flattop Mountain Trail is one of the most popular hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, offering spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The trail is challenging, but the reward at the top is worth it, with stunning views of the park’s alpine terrain. It’s a must-do hike for experienced hikers visiting the park.

Reasons to Hike Flattop Mountain Trail:

  • Stunning Views: Hikers are rewarded with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys throughout the trail.
  • Alpine Tundra: The trail takes you through a unique alpine tundra ecosystem, with wildflowers, rock formations, and more.
  • Wildlife Spotting: Keep an eye out for bighorn sheep, elk, marmots, and other wildlife that call the mountain home.
  • Challenging Hike: With an elevation gain of over 3,000 feet, this hike is a challenge, but one that is well worth the effort.
  • Trail Connections: Flattop Mountain Trail is a great starting point for many other trails in the area, allowing hikers to explore even more of the beautiful Rocky Mountain National Park.

Recommended Gear: Hiking Boots, Backpack, Water Bottle, Snacks, Sunscreen, Hat, Layered Clothing


Mills Lake Trail

Trail Length: 5.6 Miles | Difficulty Level: Moderate | Elevation Gain: 780 Feet | Trailhead: Glacier Gorge Trailhead

Mills Lake Trail is a scenic hike in Rocky Mountain National Park that leads to a picturesque alpine lake surrounded by stunning mountain peaks. The trail is known for its wildflowers, as well as its breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. This moderately difficult hike is a great option for hikers of all levels who want to experience the natural beauty of Colorado’s high country.

Reasons to Hike Mills Lake Trail:

  • Scenic Beauty: The trail offers breathtaking views of snow-capped peaks, crystal-clear alpine lakes, and a lush valley full of wildflowers and wildlife.
  • Family-Friendly: The trail is rated as moderate and is suitable for hikers of all skill levels, making it a great option for families and beginners.
  • Fishing: Mills Lake is home to a variety of fish species, including brook trout and rainbow trout, making it a popular destination for anglers.
  • Waterfalls: The trail passes by several waterfalls, including Alberta Falls, which is a popular spot for photography.
  • Accessibility: The trailhead is easily accessible and is located just a short drive from Estes Park, making it a convenient option for visitors to the area.

Recommended Gear:  Hiking Boots, Daypack, Water Bottle, Sunscreen, Hat, Rain Jacket, Snacks


Bear Lake Loop Trail

Trail Length: 0.8 Miles | Difficulty Level: Easy | Elevation Gain: 30 Feet | Trailhead: Bear Lake Trailhead

The Bear Lake Loop Trail is a short, easy and scenic trail located in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. The trail takes hikers through dense forests, serene meadows and beautiful alpine lakes. The highlight of the trail is Bear Lake, which offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains. The trail is perfect for families, beginners, and anyone looking for a peaceful hike in a beautiful natural setting.

Reasons to Hike Bear Lake Loop Trail:

  • Stunning Scenery: The trail boasts breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains, crystal-clear alpine lakes, and lush forests.
  • Accessibility: The trailhead is easily accessible and located just a short drive from Estes Park, making it a popular destination for hikers of all skill levels.
  • Family-Friendly: The trail is relatively easy and suitable for families with children or those who prefer a more leisurely hike.
  • Year-Round Hiking: The trail is accessible year-round, with each season offering unique scenery and experiences.
  • Wildlife Viewing: The area is home to a variety of wildlife, including elk, deer, bighorn sheep, and sometimes even moose.

Recommended Gear: Comfortable Hiking Shoes, Water Bottle, Sunscreen, Hat, Sunglasses, Snacks, Camera


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