Rocky Mountain Hiking Trails

Rocky Mountain National Park is an alpine hiker's paradise. Trails of all lengthes and difficulties lead to hundreds of beautiful features. We personally have only scratched the surface of what is here, but below we present some of what we have seen. They are mostly of the dayhike variety. Hiking distances given below are total, roundtrip distances unless otherwise stated. Difficulties are only a general guideline, for an adult in good condition, and do not take into account trail length.

Rocky Mountain National Park Trails Locator Map
(click map to open very large locator map of the hikes below)


Adams Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Adams Falls

Length
0.6 miles
Difficulty
Easy
Trailhead
#8 - East Inlet Trailhead parking area
This hike starts from the East Inlet Trailhead parking area, located near the town of Grand Lake on the west side of the park. Follow the boat launch signs on West Portal Road to the trailhead. The short trail is relatively easy, and leads quickly to this falls on East Inlet Creek.
Alberta Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Alberta Falls

Length
1.8 miles
Difficulty
Moderately Easy
Trailhead
#9 - Glacier Gorge Trailhead parking area
This hike starts from the Glacier Gorge Trailhead parking area. In summer it will almost certainly be necessary to ride the shuttle to this extremely popular trailhead. The trail leads to many outstanding destinations, but one of the shortest and easiest is to Alberta Falls, perhaps the most popular hiking destination in the park.
Horseshoe Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Alluvial Fan

Length
0.5 miles
Difficulty
Easy
Trailhead
#1 - East or West Alluvial Fan parking area
This hike starts from the East or West Alluvial Fan parking area, located half a mile down Old Fall River Road from its beginning at Fall River Road. An alluvial fan is a debris field left behind by moving water. In this case, the Lawn Lake flood of 1982 created it. The long cascade on the Roaring River is Horseshoe Falls, drastically redesigned by the flood.
Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

Bear Lake

Length
0.7 miles
Difficulty
Easy
Trailhead
#2 - Bear Lake parking area
This hike begins from the Bear Lake parking area at the end of the Bear Lake Road. It is an easy self-guiding nature trail that circles the lake on a nearly flat, well constructed trail. This is a very popular area, so you need to be here either early in the morning or in the evening to find any solitude (or a parking space). During the busy season, park at Glacier Basin and ride the free shuttle.
Colorado River in Rocky Mountain National Park

Colorado River

Length
Up to 3.8 miles one-way
Difficulty
Moderately Easy
Trailhead
#3 - Colorado River Trail parking area
This hike leaves the Colorado River Trailhead on Trail Ridge Road and heads quickly up a steep incline, the only real climb of the trail. It briefly heads through the woods before meeting up with the Colorado River. Most people use this as a short dayhike just to see the river, but it can be taken up to 3.8 miles to its end at another trail.
Coyote Valley Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park

Coyote Valley

Length
1.0 miles
Difficulty
Easy
Trailhead
#5 - Coyote Valley parking area
This short nature trail starts from the Coyote Valley parking area, a small unpaved lot just off the Trail Ridge Road. It leads across the Colorado River and through a section of the Kawuneeche Valley.
Emerald Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

Emerald, Dream, and Nymph Lakes

Length
3.6 miles
Difficulty
Moderate
Trailhead
#10 - Bear Lake parking area
This hike begins from the Bear Lake parking area at the end of the Bear Lake Road. This highly scenic trip packs four lakes into one hike of less than 2 mile one-way. It starts at Bear Lake, skirts Nymph Lake at 0.5 miles and Dream Lake at 1.1 miles, before finally arriving at Emerald Lake at 1.8 miles. This hike has a lot of uphill, and given the 10,000 foot elevations can be quite difficult for those not prepared for the altitude.
Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

Sprague Lake

Length
0.5 miles
Difficulty
Easy
Trailhead
#6 - Sprague Lake parking area
This easy loop hike begins from the Sprague Lake parking area off of Bear Lake Road and wraps around Sprague Lake. This is a very popular, and easy walk to some great views. The best views, with the mountains in the backdrop, are from the back part of the loop.
Tundra Communities Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park

Tundra Communities Nature Trail

Length
1.0 miles
Difficulty
Moderately Easy
Trailhead
#7 - Rock Cut parking area
This short nature hike begins from the Rock Cut parking area along the Trail Ridge Road. Although the ascent is relatively gentle, the trail starts at an elevation of over 12,000 feet, so virtually any exertion can be difficult for those not used to the very thin air. However, this is one of the few places you can walk into the tundra without doing severe damage to the landscape, since the path is paved and already there. DO NOT leave the paved trail. It can take centuries to repair the damage of one footstep.
Copeland Falls Area in Rocky Mountain National Park

Wild Basin Waterfalls

Length
Up to 5.4 miles
Difficulty
Moderate
Trailhead
#4 - Wild Basin parking area
The Wild Basin Trailhead is located in an area away from the "main" area of the park. From Estes Park, it is 13 miles south on CO-7 to Wild Basin Road. From there, follow signs to the Wild Basin Entrance and Trailhead, under three miles from CO-7. Most of the road is unpaved but suitable for all vehicles. From the trailhead the Thunder Lake Trail leads deep into the backcountry. This hike goes up to 2.7 miles, passing several impressive waterfall areas, including Copeland Falls, Calypso Cascades, and Ouzel Falls.


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