5 Winter Hikes in Estes Park in Under Two Hours

01/24/2022 | by Lyles Armour | Estes Park

Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park in winter is a great time to explore the area trails. With fewer crowds, blankets of snow, and snow-capped peaks, hikers enjoy the solitude and quiet beauty that comes with the season. But we get it, it’s cold out there, so we’ve rounded up a few trails that can be completed in a short amount of time. Jumpstart your adventures, with these winter hikes in Estes Park in under two hours.

*note all times are approximate. Based on a two-mile-an-hour pace.

Lake Estes Trail

Duration: 1.5 – 2 hours

The flat 3.73-mile trail that follows the perimeter of Lake Estes is a great option for an easy winter hike. Located in town and with little to no elevation gain, it feels more like a stroll than a strenuous hike. Take it as slow as you want and allow for time to admire the local wildlife. Or lace up your running shoes for a quick lap or two around the lake. If the snow is really deep, snowshoes are a great option.

Kruger Rock Trail

Duration: 2 hours

The Hermit Park Open Space, just outside of town, features access to one of the area’s most popular trails, the hike to Kruger Rock. The four-mile loop leads you to the top of Kruger Rock where sweeping views of Mount Meeker, Longs Peak, and the Continental Divide can be seen. With an elevation gain of 977 feet, the trail is rated moderate with a challenging scramble near the top.

In Rocky Mountain National Park

The trails below are located inside Rocky Mountain National Park, but are only a handful of miles from the Beaver Meadows Entrance, making them easy day-hikes from town.

Sprague Lake

Duration: under 1 hour

Probably one of our favorite winter hikes in Estes Park is Sprague Lake. Ideal for hiking any time of the year, the winter is especially special with the frozen-over lake, snow-capped peaks, and bare trees allowing for never-ending views. Take in stunning views across the lake of the park’s most notable peaks; Hallett, Taylor, Otis, Halfmountain, and more. The loop around The trail is just under one mile around the lake and is accessed via Bear Lake Road.

Cub Lake

Duration: 2 hours

Beginning from the Morraine Park area as well, Cub Lake is a four-mile hike that is perfect for winter hikes due to its mild terrain. Hikers will enjoy views of the Big Thompson River, glacial landscapes, and snow-capped mountain peaks. Plus, following the western edge of Morraine Park, there are plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife.

Gem Lake

Duration: 1.5 – 2 hours

Located about three miles from downtown Estes Park, Gem Lake trailhead is found along Devils Gulch Road in RMNP. The 3.4-mile trail offers some of the most dramatic mountain scenery in the park. The initial gradual ascent up Lumpy Ridge is marked by bare aspen groves in the winter and giant rock formations.

The final ascent to the lake is steep, quickly adding to the 1,000 feet in vertical elevation gain. But trust us, the views are well worth it!

Upper Beaver Meadows

Duration: 2 hours

The Upper Beaver Meadows trail is located just a couple of miles from the Beaver Meadows Park entrance. The five-mile loop trail winds through a forest of pine trees, over rushing streams (frozen in winter), and expansive meadows where you can enjoy great views of Longs Peak and the Continental Divide. Keep your eye out for local wildlife such as deer and elk burrowed in the deep snow. With an elevation gain of around 1,000 feet, you’ll need to move fast to complete in under two hours.

Looking for a bit more of a challenge? Then check out these challenging snowshoe hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Stay at Rocky Mountain Resorts

After hitting the trails, come back to Rocky Mountain Resorts to rest and relax. Our Estes Park lodging options range from cozy cabins and cottages to spacious condos and vacation homes. Discover cabins with a private hot tub or for indoor relaxation, comfortable rentals with a fireplace. Either way, we will keep you warm this winter while you enjoy the peaceful surroundings of Colorado mountain life with all the convenient amenities of home with a stay at Rocky Mountain Resorts.

This winter, be sure to take advantage of our winter special! Book a two-night stay, now through May 21, 2022, and receive a third night FREE! Book your stay today!

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