The Top 5 Hikes near Estes Park, Colorado
There are nearly 200 documented hikes within 20 miles of Estes Park, Colorado, the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. In fact, Estes Park Condos’ Fall River complex is a short jaunt from two jaw-dropping summits: Oldman Mountain and Castle Mountain. The city of Estes Park is one of Colorado’s main attractions in and of itself, with its azure lake, countless “sidewinder” roads, and bustling nightlife, including breweries, cocktail bars, and pubs. Outdoor enthusiasts and casual travelers alike visit the area to spot wildlife (such as our resident elks), fish for plumb trout, ATV through the backcountry, and explore the topography on horseback. However, good, old-fashioned hiking remains the preferred method of exploration. Thus, we’ve hand-selected five undeniably spellbinding hikes near Estes Park, ranging from a brisk mountainside loop to a steep incline to an ultra-popular mirroring lake.
The Prettiest Hikes near Estes Park: Explore the Rockies
Narrowing this “list” down to five hikes near Estes Park was its own adventure, as there are literally dozens upon dozens of enthralling trails within minutes of our Fall River condominium complex. That being said, these five selections wholly encapsulate the overall allure of Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park itself.
Reminder: This region’s weather can be rather unpredictable, especially during “offseasons.” So, please come prepared for any type of atmospheric change. For those visiting from lower elevations, we recommend boning up on Healthline’s “tips for altitude sickness prevention.” You’ll thank us later.
Without further ado, here are the five prettiest hikes near sunny Estes Park.
The 3.2-mile loop to and from Bierstadt Lake will always hold a special place in our hearts. The 600-plus-foot elevation gain zigzags up a once-forgotten mountain, and, with each step, the surrounding topography grows more and more breathtaking. Down below, you can spot Sprague Lake, which we’ll touch on a little later. To the west, hikers will obtain genuinely awe-inspiring, unobstructed views of the jagged, snow-topped peaks that tower above Emerald Lake and Lake Haiyaha. Meanwhile, Bierstadt Lake mirrors those peaks, creating a kaleidoscope of color (as featured above).
2. Lake Haiyaha
Lake Haiyaha acts as an oft-overlooked cousin to Emerald Lake, which is a shame because the sprawling, seemingly endless valley vistas can effectively take one’s breath away. Last summer, members of our team were able to capture a double rainbow (as pictured) that arched above the landscape as a rainstorm slowly moved through the western rim of the mountain range. Not to be overlooked, Lake Haiyaha’s gigantic boulder field is an idyllic place for a picnic or some much-needed rest before descending back to the parking lot. It’s worth noting that the journey to Lake Haiyaha sweeps past Dream Lake and Nymph Lake, two peaceful beauties that often attract wildlife.
3. Emerald Lake
While Emerald Lake might be the most frequented hike near Estes Park (or all of Colorado, for that matter), it’s a quintessential experience that needs to be undertaken at least once. This heavily-trafficked, out-and-back trail goes up, up, and up until it reaches its pinnacle: Emerald Lake, named after its distinctive verdant green water. Along the journey, hikers will stroll past the aforementioned Nymph and Dream Lakes. Dream Lake, in particular, is exceptionally stunning. And don’t forget to take a closer look at Tyndall Creek, home to a thriving rainbow trout population.
About 1.5 miles north of the “Overlook Hotel” lies a family-friendly hidden gem, known to most as Lumpy Ridge. Most hikers climb toward Gem Lake, but we recommend the Twin Owls loop, a relatively easy, 1.6-mile trail that provides ample tranquility and faraway mountain vistas. Keep your eyes peeled for the mini Devils Tower, a sizable ranch, and those vibrant aspens!
5. Sprague Lake
Much like Emerald Lake, the accessible Sprague loop is rather touristy. However, it provides a startlingly beautiful “ground floor” view of the Rocky Mountains’ most recognizable chain. Fly fishers frequent Sprague Lake as it’s equally serene and chockful of rainbow trout and largemouth bass. This one-mile loop is a perfect warm-up for those who plan to tackle Bierstadt, Haiyah, or Emerald. If your itinerary requires a few more hikes near Estes Park, please browse through this helpful area guide.
Estes Park Lodging on the Fall River
Estes Park Condos remains one of the region’s most desirable vacation rental hubs, primarily because its complex rests along the edge of the peaceful Fall River, home to several herds of elk. While each condo is uniquely designed and decorated, most units feature stone fireplaces, outdoor hot tubs, walk-out decks, full kitchens, and jetted tubs. Our Estes Park “resort” is perfectly situated between downtown and the national park’s Fall River entrance. Prospective guests can swiftly check availability online. There’s no doubt that you’ll find a condo that perfectly suits your group’s size, style, and Rocky Mountain budget.
Update: After a battle with neighboring wildfires, much of Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park is reopening on November 6, 2020. THANK YOU, firefighters!