Hiking in Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the top activities to do during the summer months. So, get out this summer and explore our favorite summer hikes in RMNP.
Take it easy
Gem Lake is a wonderful easy hike that actually starts outside of the park, but winds its way into RMNP on the trail. You’ll gain almost 1,000 feet in elevation, starting at 7,882’ and ending at 8,830’. Start your trek at the Lumpy Ridge Trailhead and if arriving at Gem Lake wasn’t enough of a hike, you can add Bridal Veil Falls and Twin Owls Loop from this point. Gem Lake is a 3.3-mile hike.
Starting at the Bear Lake Trailhead, Lake Haiyaha is a 3.9-mile hike with 746’ in elevation gain. Haiyaha is in the lower Chaos Canyon and the name derives from the Native American word for rock, which suits the area wonderfully with its plethora of boulders. On the hike, you’ll have an opportunity to enjoy a viewing area of Dream Lake. At only .05 miles, it’s well worth the additional time for a wonderful view of the lake.
From the Glacier Gorge Trailhead, Mills Lake is a 2.65-mile hike though. If you’re prepared for some extra hiking, you can always couple it with Jewel Lake, making it 6.2 miles roundtrip. Jewel Lake offers a similar vista view compared to Mills Lake, and most hikers won’t continue down to Jewel Lake, so you’ll often find it’s less crowded than other sections of the park.
For a challenge
In our easy hikes post, we mentioned Mills Lake from the Glacier Gorge Trailhead, and Black Lake is a great trail to add on to your day of hiking for a bit more of a challenge with a beautiful view of the backside of Longs Peak and Keyboard of the Winds.
Black Lake is 9.6 miles roundtrip, and you’ll see Mills Lake, Jewel Lake, and Ribbon Falls during your hike. If you want more water views, you can turn left at the lake and take the trail next to the waterfalls up to Green, Blue, and Frozen Lakes.
If it’s iconic landmarks you’re after, Hallett Peak at 10 miles roundtrip, is the perfect challenging hike. With 3,200 feet of net elevation gain, you’ll be able to summit two mountains by crossing Flattop and then reaching Hallett. If you’re up for it, you can add Otis for a third summit. Hallett Peak is off the Bear Lake Trailhead and again, we recommend getting an early start though this time it’s also to help secure a parking spot at the Bear Lake lot!
One of our favorite summer hikes in RMNP and one of the best waterfall hikes, is Chasm Falls. The waterfall plunges 25 feet, crashing through a narrow granite gorge. As one of the most accessible waterfalls in the park, the 2.8-mile hike begins at the Endo Valley Picnic Area in Horseshoe Park, just before reaching Fall River Road. Park in the picnic area parking lot and walk back to Fall River Road; the hike to falls from here is 1.4 miles. In the summer, hikers will have the option of driving to Chasm Falls Trailhead via Trail Ridge Road, making this a much shorter hike.
Starting at the somewhat remote Wild Basin trailhead, the 0.4-mile hike out to Copeland Falls is a true treat. Hikers will come across Lower Copeland Falls first; one-third of a mile from the trailhead. Further down the trail, the Upper Copeland Falls becomes visible.
If you want to add on… head out to Ouzel Falls
Located at the southeastern corner of the park, near the Wild Basin Trailhead, the hike to Ouzel Falls offers hikers other waterfall viewing opportunities along the way. Hikers will come across Copeland Falls and the Calypso Cascades along the 2.7-mile hike to Ouzel Falls. The impressive 40-foot cascading waterfall plunging into Ouzel Creek is best observed by staying on the trail and viewing from the footbridge.
Stay at Rocky Mountain Resorts
We hope you take the time to explore our favorite summer hikes in RMNP during your Estes Park vacation. And to make your vacation even more enjoyable, be sure to book a stay at Rocky Mountain Resorts.
We offer a variety of accommodations; from cabins and cottages to larger vacation homes. Combined with our affordable prices and our proximity to the town of Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, we are a great choice for exploring in town and the Rocky Mountains!