Searching through Rocky Mountain National Park guidebooks, maps, routes, and planners can leave you overwhelmed! It’s exhausting to try to sort out which hikes are at your skill level, then determine how long those hikes are, and THEN determine if those hikes that you have narrowed down are even close to each other! I hear you, and, wow, can I relate. It seemed impossible to sift through the endless hiking guides, because I didn’t really know what I was looking for, and how all of those hikes intersected with each other (or if they even did!!!)
This guide will help you show you the hikes near Estes Park, Colorado that are in the same area, and can be done either on the same day, or on different days! Either way, you will know that if you choose this area, you will be traveling within the same geographical location of Rocky Mountain National Park (which is, by the way, a HUGE place.)
The areas we are going to cover in this article are hikes near Estes Park in either the Bear Lake Trailhead or the Glacier Gorge Trailhead – which are super close to each other! From here, you can pick and choose which ones you want to go on. Each one of these hikes is broken down in DETAIL in other areas of the site, with very specific resources and information!
Highlights and Information Before You Start
National Parks Pass
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Many people hike near the Bear Lake and Glacier Gorge area near Estes Park. It can get very busy in this popular national park! You may choose to ride the shuttle bus service available at Rocky Mountain National Park during the operating months May through October. Please check the National Park Service Website Here in order to see dates, times, and a map of the shuttle bus service within RMNP!
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Updated Trail Conditions
Trail conditions can be found here. Updated Trail Conditions can be found by clicking here.
Colorado Road Conditions
Estes Park hiking weather can be fickle, and its always important to look at the road conditions. Road Conditions in Colorado can be found by clicking here.
Depending on where you are going, and when, and who is going with you, you will need to pack certain gear. Take time before to find, purchase, and pack the gear you need. Consider our 17 things you need to pack, but didn’t think of, as well as our list of essentials for a day hike. You can even check out our guide to gifts for hikers and adventurers to give you ideas regarding items that you may need (or want!) to make your vacation even better!
Gear is really important, and give yourself the time to think, research, and plan for the things that you will most need and want during your vacation. Frankly, I even make lists for food and clothing. (But like I said, I’m a planner, people.)
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This hike is one of the most popular hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. Coolest feature? There are 32 NUMBERED POSTS around the lake that show points of interest and information. You can get a booklet from a dispenser at the beginning of the lake (East Side). Kids will love this. It is the easiest treasure hunt they will ever do, and (bonus!) they will be learning!
Start your walk around the lake in either direction. Enjoy the famous Longs Peak and the other mountains that hover majestically over Glacier Gorge. Seriously, enjoy. This is an easy walk, with the most bang for your buck.
The Nymph Lake Hike in Colorado is one of the most popular hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. The reason? This hike is super easy and is only one mile round trip! You can easily attach this hike with the Bear Lake Hike above!
Just a bit further down this same trail is Dream Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. Its 2.2 miles round trip from the Bear Lake Trailhead!
The Emerald Lake Trail at Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most popular hikes! The reason? This hike actually incorporates three lakes! It includes Nymph Lake, Dream Lake and Emerald Lake – and its a lot of bang for your hiking buck! If you do the entire route, its 3.6 miles round trip.
The Emerald Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the best uses of your time and it will create memories for a lifetime. The best time to go to this place, or really any place in RMNP is early, early, early, (no seriously, even earlier than that) in the morning.
This is a maybe. Yes, you can get to it from the Bear Lake Trailhead, that is totally true. But it’s in an opposite direction after Nymph Lake. The directions can be found on the specific post regarding Lake Haiyaha, but I definitely think you could incorporate this into a day hike (maybe) and if not, it would be great for a second day of hikes near Estes Park for sure!
Glacier Gorge Trailhead
This hike starts at the Glacier Gorge Trailhead. However, you can easily get to it as well from the Bear Lake Trailhead, you just have to walk a bit farther. From the Glacer Gorge Trailhead you need to go 1.8 miles round trip. Its definitely longer from the Bear Lake Trailhead but still completely do-able. It is up to you if you want to incorporate this into your one day hike, but to be honest, depending on if you have kids with you or not, I would split some of these hikes up into two days. It will give you more time to enjoy the world around you and all of God’s beauty!
Deciding on the Hikes Near Estes Park
As you can see from the map below, all of these hikes can be reached from the same trailheads!!!!!
Step by Step DETAILED Directions
Also, all of your days of feeling “Map-ically Challenged” are over! The maps on all of the detailed hike posts (both simple and detailed), along with exceptionally clear instructions, are all provided for you!!
Please note: The 3D maps in the posts, and below are NOT FACING NORTH (on purpose!). Repeat: Many of these maps do NOT face North. These maps are shown specifically for those of us who are “map-ically challenged” and need to visually see which way we are hiking. Please refer to the compass at the bottom right of the map below to show where NORTH actually is!
CLICK ON THE MAP BELOW, OR CLICK HERE, AND YOU WILL LINK TO THIS EXACT GOOGLE MAP. You can zoom in on it and take as many screenshots as you would like! If you bring up the map in Google, if you use your mouse and hit CONTROL, then you can MOVE the map to the direction in which you are ACTUALLY HEADED!!!! (Amazing!)
When you click on this, and open the map, you can then click on the link below the blue box on the left and have these directions sent DIRECTLY TO YOUR PHONE!
You can then screenshot those images, so that you can see these directions, and maps, even if you do not have wi-fi as you are hiking!
Finally – look look LOOK! AT THE BOTTOM RIGHT of the map. See that little yellow guy? Click on him when you open up the map on your phone. You can see ACTUAL PICTURES on the blue dots that people have taken. This is a GREAT resource to have. If you look at your map before you go, you can screenshot what the intersections in the trail look like to help you navigate your way, and not get lost!
Hiking is supposed to be enjoyable, and it’s all about the journey and not necessarily just the destination. With views like these, it’s nice to be able to stop for a bit, have a bite to eat (but don’t feed the animals!) and enjoy what you came here to see – the gorgeous views. If you take that all into consideration, you will be able to make excellent decisions regarding which hikes to do over how many days!
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Tell me about your experiences on hikes near Estes Park! Did you think the hikes were easy or difficult? Did you make one stop, two, or three? I’d love to hear your opinions and your experiences! I’d love to see your pictures as well! Seriously! Send pics!!!! Did you do this in one day? two days? three days? I can’t wait to hear from you!