As you know, Van Adieu is ALL about the amateur adventurer. We are so excited to provide outdoor resources, guides, maps, and information to help those amateur adventurers have the confidence they need to boldly go where they have never gone before! We want you to STOP WASTING WEEKENDS! and get out there and explore!
That said, we would like to also provide some information regarding Estes Park Hiking Trails that are for the more Advanced Hiker. While these more advanced articles won’t go into as much details, they will provide a resource for those looking to stretch themselves even further and explore even more challenging areas of Rocky Mountain National Park.
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The Deer Mountain trail is located off the Deer Ridge Junction Trailhead. This is a STEEP hike, with a gain of 1,200 feet in elevation. But the pain is worth it if you dare, because you will see Estes Valley and the Continental Divide! Incredible! It is still a heavily trafficked trail, and you will likely see people along the way. The trail is moderate until the very end, when you have to get yourself up a steep area to the top. There is a great deal of wildlife, like deer and elk (remember to always practice safety around wild animals)! After your climb, you will feel just like singing and twirling just like in the Sound of Music – the views are amazing. Ok, well maybe not, but you will feel overwhelmed to say the least at the beauty of God’s handiwork! There is seriously limited parking here, so you want to get there super early (a common theme throughout Rocky Mountain National Park trailheads!)
Lily Mountain hiking trail is actually not officially inside Rocky Mountain National Park, instead it is part of the Roosevelt National Forest. This is a 4 mile trail and you will get a lot of bang for your hiking buck as you see amazing views of Mount Meeker, Longs Peak, the Continental Divide and the mountains that make up the Mummy Range. Bring your doggie (finally!) on this trail – our four legged friends are welcome on this one! The Lily Mountain trail remains pretty flat until the last half mile where it starts upping the game and becoming more steep and more of a rugged trail. Near the top, you better get ready. It’s difficult. Remember, always take your time. The mountain will be there another day, if you are tired, thirsty, or can’t manage your doggie (which might be hard, because this is seriously steep). Whatever the issue, remember you always need to think of your safety and health first. While I am typically against cairns (those rocks that people build along the trail for decoration), in this case, if you do get lost, look for the cairns here. They are placed by park rangers, and are there to help you find your way and mark the trails. because they really are not in 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.
This hike goes up to 12,889′ and is located 4.8 miles from Poudre Lake Trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park. This Mt. Ida trail does not appear on most maps, and many people do not know about it because the Poudre Lake Trailhead does not indicate that Mt Ida is a destination from this trailhead. This is a 9.6-mile round trip and is on the “other” side of the Continental Divide. As previously stated, this trail is a serios hike for the advanced hier, as it has some serious elevation gain at just over 2,100 feet. Even better, 75% of the hike is above the treeline. If you are around Rocky Mountain National Park for any period of time, you know that there are often afternoon thunderstorms. You do NOT want to be on this trail during these common thunderstorms, so please start early, because there isn’t much shelter up there. The views are incredible as you can imagine, and you will be able to see the Never Summer Range and Gorge Lakes basin and some of the most incredible views of your life!
This peak can be reached from the Bear Lake Trailhead and as you probably know by now, Bear Lake Trailhead gets super busy in Rocky Mountain National Park. This Estes Park hiking trail will not disappoint if you make the decision travel on this hike. Its 10 miles round trip, and it is …. difficult. It has an elevation gain of 3,200 feet, and get this!, you’ll be able to summit not one, but TWO mountains. You will cross Flattop Mountain and then reach Hallett Peak. If you are even more advanced, you could try for Otis Mountain as well to get a third summit in!!!! If its iconic landmarks you’re after on your hike, Hallett Peak at 10 miles roundtrip is the perfect strenuous 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. You will be able to see Emerald Lake during your hike, which is a picturesque view you won’t forget!
At Emerald Lake Overlook, you can enjoy the view of the gorge thanks to Tyndall Glacier, one of five active glaciers in Rocky Mountain National Park. All advice suggests that you seriously stay away from ledges and cliffs because the ground may not be as stable or firm as it appears.Apparently, you will be on Tyndall Glacier, and this is an ACTIVE glacier, people. At Emerald Lake Overlook, you can enjoy the view of the gorge thanks to Tyndall Glacier, one of five active glaciers in Rocky Mountain National Park. All advice suggests that you seriously stay away from ledges and cliffs because the ground may not be as stable or firm as it appears.
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The hike to Hallett Peak is off of 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 Trailhead. In fact, because the Bear Lake Trailhead parking lot fills fast, especially in summer, you may choose to ride the shuttle bus service to the Bear Lake Trailhead 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! At Emerald Lake Overlook, you can enjoy the view of the gorge thanks to Tyndall Glacier, one of five active glaciers in Rocky Mountain National Park. All advice suggests that you seriously stay away from ledges and cliffs because the ground may not be as stable or firm as it appears.
If you look up our post about the Mills Lake hike from the Glacier Gorge Trailhead, if you are feeling adventurous, then the Black Lake hike is an awesome add-on if you want to see even more of a view of the backside of Longs Peak and Keyboard of the Winds. This hike to Black Lake will be a TOTAL of 9.6 miles roundtrip if you start at the Glacier Gorge Trailhead and you will see Mills Lake, Jewel Lake, and Ribbon Falls. If you looking for even MORE adventure, then you can turn left at Black lake and go on your way to see waterfalls, and then Green, Blue, and Frozen Lakes!
The longest trail on our list at 13.7 miles, Lion Lake is best saved for late season visitors, visiting July – September, to ensure the snow has melted. You’ll start at the Wild Basin Trailhead and you won’t be disappointed by the alpine views that greet you after this endurance hike. In one section, you’ll gain 565 feet in .85 miles but prior to this elevation gain, you’ll have a level stretch to catch your breath.
Andrews Tarn & Andrews Glacier
The lake here comes from a glacier, and sits at an altitute of 11,000 feet! It is a 4.6 mile trek, and during that time you will hike 2,000 fee in elevation. Want even more technical climbing? Then if you continue past the lake, you will find Andrews Glacier. Now, its serious business here, really only for experts. You will NEED technical equipment for safe climbing. You can get here from the the Glacier Gorge Trailhead off of Bear Lake Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, following the Loch Vale Trail to the Andrews Creek Trail.
Here we go – this is the ULTIMATE Rocky Mountain National Park hiking challenge. Its the famous 14er – which means that it is 14,000 feet ABOVE sea level!!! The trailhead is located south of Estes Park and is off of Highway 7. Remember to prepare, prepare, prepare for this, and do your research! Plan your route, your gear, your food, your …. everything! And always make sure to get a super early start, because….thunderstorms. This is a peak that is too much for me, I’ll be honest. Maybe someday! But if you have done it – I would be THRILLED to know about it! Leave your comments and pictures below!
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Estes Park Hiking Trails for the Advanced Hiker
Sure, these hikes may be WAY outside your comfort level now, but just know, that no matter who you are – from your very first hiking trail ever to reaching the summit of Long’s Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park has something for everyone and for every skill level. Greeting you at every turn is majestic beauty, and there is truly not a bad seat in the house! Enjoy where you are at – and just know that adventure always awaits you, no matter what your abilities!
Final note: Did you know that no matter your skill level as a hiker you need to stay SAFE. The number one recommendation we have is that you need to have a communication device. Of all the things you choose to bring….. It should be this. Garmin inReach Explorer+, Handheld Satellite Communicator with TOPO Maps and GPS Navigation Yes. Its a bit spendy. Your life is totally worth that. I won’t ever back down on this.
I believe a hiker needs this as much as they need shoes, a sleeping bag, or any other gear. It’s the most important, because it can save your life. This GPS system also allows 2 way text messaging from anywhere with a satellite subscription, and also has an SOS feature 24/7. It has maps, a built in digital compass, and routing, but the real reason you get it is because it can save your life. Seriously. Get this as a present for those you love. Can you tell I’m serious about this product? Seriously. 🙂
Have you ever hiked any of these trails? What were your experiences? Do you have any suggestions or comments or advice for all of us? And pictures!!!! We would absolutely love to see your pictures! Please connect with all of us and tell us of your amazing adventures!
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