Four Moderate Summer Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park
In our last blog post, we highlighted three of our favorite easy hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. This post will focus on moderate hikes within the park or near Estes Park for visitors looking for a bit more of a challenge during their Colorado vacation.
Loch Vale – This 5.9-mile trail (roundtrip) off the Glacier Gorge Trailhead is a wonderful moderate hike with a beautiful payoff at The Loch. This trail is related to a trail we discussed in our easy hikes post, the Mills Lake trail, and offers similar stunning views, great lunch spots around the lake, and fishing. You’ll gain more than 1,000 feet in elevation gain for the whole roundtrip hike.
Deer Mountain – At an even six miles roundtrip, this trail is located off the Deer Ridge Junction Trailhead. If its views of the majestic mountains you’re after, this is the hike for you. You’ll see Estes Valley and the Continental Divide from this vantage point as well as a few deer or elk along the trail (hopefully!). During the summer, it’s common for this trail to be the home of deer flies and sees some direct sunlight so it’s advised to go early in the morning if you want to stay out of the heat and away from the bugs! You’ll gain about 1,200 feet in elevation for this trail and the views of the iconic summits will not disappoint after that amount of climbing!
Fern Lake – At 7.7 miles, Fern Lake is long but well worth the trek. With more than 1,300 feet of elevation gain and wonderful views of the mountains surrounded by trees, this hike is quite popular with locals and guests alike! You’ll also see the Pool, the confluence of Spruce Creek, Fern Creek, and the Big Thompson River, and Fern Falls. If you want to make this hike more difficult, you can hike up to Lake Helene, loop around at Bear Lake, and then catch Rocky Mountain National Park’s shuttle back to the Fern Lake Trailhead.
Lily Mountain – Lily Mountain hiking trail is outside of Rocky Mountain National Park and is part of the Roosevelt National Forest. This 4-mile trail is dog-friendly and offers amazing views of Mount Meeker, Longs Peak, the Continental Divide and the mountains that form the Mummy Range. You won’t be disappointed by the panorama you’ll find on this trail. This trail remains relatively level until the last half mile where it starts climbing in elevation and becomes a more rugged trail. Near the top, it becomes a rock scramble. Feel free to take your time and climb up the rocks with care. If you think you’re lost, look for the cairns (a pile of strategically placed rocks) as these are used to identify and mark the trails. If you do bring your dogs on the trail, please be prepared for the rocks near the end of the trail and remember to keep your pets leashed on the hike.
Be on the lookout for our final blog post in this series of hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park where we’ll share our favorite difficult hikes and a few tips and tricks!