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Ultimate Guide To 17 Of The Best Hikes In Rocky Mountain National Park According To Local Experts

Rocky Mountain National Park has some of the best hikes of the entire US National Parks Service, and it can be overwhelming to know which of the many options is the absolute best hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. That’s why we’ve created this list of the best hikes in each area of RMNP. What we love about it is that there are options for all abilities and ages. Whether you are looking for a short stroll around one of RMNP’s subalpine lakes or seeking to bag one of Colorado’s iconic 14ers, there is a hike for everyone in Rocky Mountain.

We’ve visited Rocky Mountain National Park many times (it’s right in our backyard, after all!) and each time we have come away with yet another breathtaking bucket-list hiking experience. We’ve rounded up 17 of the best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park to inspire your adventure wanderlust and help you make the most of your trip. 

Sarah hiking the Chasm Lake Trail
Sarah hiking the Chasm Lake Trail

Preparing for the Best Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park

Before we dive into the best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, there are some key things you need to know about planning your trip first.

Where is Rocky Mountain National Park?

Most likely, you’ll be staying in Estes Park or Grand Lake. If you are flying in, you will probably be arriving at the Denver International Airport. From there you absolutely should rent a car! There isn’t much public transportation in the Rocky Mountains, and while the national park has a free hikers shuttle, you’ll still want your own vehicle for getting to/from the park and any other destinations around the Colorado mountains.

Here are some recommendations for where to stay in Estes Park:




Click here to search for additional hotels in Estes Park or search below!


Where are the Best Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park?

We’ve divided this guide to the best hikes in RMNP into general locations within the park. By far, the most popular and arguably best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park are located on the Bear Lake Road corridor. We also include the best RMNP hikes located in the Longs Peak Area, Moraine Park, Trail Ridge Road, Grand Lake, and Wild Basin.

Park Entrance

Everyone visiting Rocky Mountain National Park, at any time of the year, needs to pay for park admission. The cost is $30 for 1 day for 1 vehicle or $35 for 7 days for 1 vehicle. A national park pass like America the Beautiful pass is also good for entry – meaning that with the pass, you don’t need to pay the additional entrance fee. The great thing about the national parks pass is that it gives entry to over 2,000 sites throughout the United States. If you’re planning to visit 3 or more national parks in the next 12 months, this will save you money.

Timed Entry Permits

If you are visiting Rocky Mountain National Park between May and October, you will need a timed-entry permit. You can get these online at recreation.gov. For access to the entire park, including Bear Lake Road, you need to choose Option 1. If you want access to everything except Bear Lake Road, choose Option 2.

If you aren’t successful in getting a timed entry permit, you can still enter RMNP if you arrive before 5 am or after 6 pm for Bear Lake Road access, or before 9 am or after 2 pm for park access without Bear Lake Road access.

What to Pack on the Best Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park

Here are some general items you will want to bring with you to hike in Rocky Mountain National Park:

  1. Backpack or hydration pack with either a 2-liter reservoir or a 3-liter reservoir
  2. Hiking boots with good traction. I love my Columbia boots – you can buy my hiking boots here. Tim has worn his Foxelli boots for years.
  3. Wear layers, like a pullover and a coat or jacket. The weather is really erratic in the mountains and even in summer, it can be chilly and windy at higher altitudes.
  4. Sun protection. We use SunBum sunscreen – definitely my favorite brand. The sun in the mountains is extra strong given how thin the air is so don’t skimp on this one!
  5. A first aid kit, because you don’t want to end up needing it and not having it.
  6. And don’t forget a camera! I shoot with the Sony a7iii.

The 17 Best Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park

The hikes below are grouped first by trailhead/area and then by difficulty, starting with the shortest and easiest and ending with the longest and most difficult. All of these hikes can be completed in a day, and distances are round trip. Keep reading to learn why we think these are the best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park!

Best Hikes on Bear Lake Road

Each of these hikes is accessible in the Bear Lake Road corridor of RMNP. If you’re visiting between May and October, this means you need to choose an Option 1 timed-entry permit from recreation.gov in order to access this road. 

Bear Lake Road has some of the best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. It is rightfully a popular hub for hikers of all skill levels

Bear Lake Road in Rocky Mountain National Park
Bear Lake Road

1. Sprague Lake

Distance: 0.9 miles
Elevation: 10 feet
Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Very easy

Sprague Lake Trail Summary

This easy lake loop trail around manmade Sprague Lake offers some of the most spectacular views of the Rocky Mountain range. This is a perfect choice for families with small kids or anyone who wants to enjoy big views with minimal effort. There are also numerous benches along the trail to stop and take a rest or just enjoy the scenery! Read more in our detailed guide to Sprague Lake.

Reflection of the Rocky Mountains in Sprague Lake
Reflection of the Rocky Mountains in Sprague Lake

Bucketlist Moments

  • On a still day, you can see a stunning reflection of the peaks in the water of Sprague Lake
  • Look for trout as you cross the bridge to the loop.
  • Early in the morning or around dusk, you have a good chance of seeing moose grazing around Sprague Lake.

Local Pro Tips

  • Come at sunrise to have Sprague Lake to yourself. Since it’s a short walk to get the best view of the lake and mountains, this is one of the best sunrise locations in Rocky Mountain National Park.
  • The wide dirt path is suitable for many ages and abilities, but you’ll want to bring microspikes from November to May when the trail is snowy and icy.

2. Bear Lake Loop

Distance: 0.8 miles
Elevation: 45 feet
Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Very easy

Bear Lake Loop Trail Summary

Another easy lake loop trail, the Bear Lake Loop trail is the ideal choice for those who want to hike slightly more variation in topography than Sprague Lake, but still prefer an easy, low-effort stroll. There are several benches around the lake so you can stop and enjoy from pretty much any vantage point. The Bear Lake Loop trail delivers some of the best views of Hallett Peak and Flattop Mountain without having to tackle a more strenuous climb. Read more on our detailed blog post about the Bear Lake Loop Trail.

Hallett View over a frozen Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park
Bear Lake

Bucketlist Moments

  • At sunrise, the tops of Hallett Peak and Flattop Mountain glow a stunning golden orange.
  • Stop for a break on one of the many benches or boulders around the lake for a bit of solitude.
  • If you have young kids, this is a great “first hike” for them to create special memories for the whole family.

Local Pro Tips

  • Bear Lake Trailhead is one of the most popular spots in Rocky Mountain National Park. Arrive before 9 am to have the best shot of getting a parking spot OR plan ahead to take the free shuttle (summer months only).
  • The Bear Lake Loop is one of the few trails in Rocky Mountain National Park that is wheelchair and stroller friendly!

3. Alberta Falls

Distance: 1.6 miles
Elevation: 232 feet
Time: 45 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

Alberta Falls Trail Summary

Another family-friendly option, the hike to Alberta Falls starts from the Glacier Gorge trailhead and is one of the easiest waterfalls to hike to in the park. There is a bit of elevation gain on the climb to the waterfall and some rocks on the path, but it is generally easy and suitable for most people to comfortably enjoy. The area around the falls gets pretty crowded, but you would be hard-pressed to find another waterfall in RMNP that you can enjoy with such little effort! Alberta Falls is easily one of the best short waterfall hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. Check out more info on our blog post about the Alberta Falls hike.

Alberta Falls
Alberta Falls

Bucketlist Moments

  • Enjoy the sound of rushing water as Alberta Falls crashes into the small rocky pool below before continuing down the mountain
  • In the fall, hike through the aspen trees as they turn golden yellow.

Local Pro Tips

  • The Glacier Gorge Trailhead parking area is fairly small and will fill up early. Plus, this is the trailhead for several longer, full-day hikes in RMNP, so you won’t see as many cars leaving the lot in short periods of time. Beat the crowds and arrive by 9 am.
  • If you’re a photography enthusiast like us, bring a tripod to get a long exposure on the waterfall to create that silky smooth effect!

4. Emerald Lake

Distance: 3.5 miles
Elevation: 650 feet
Time: 2 hours
Difficulty: Moderate

Emerald Lake Trail Summary

One of the best hikes in all of Rocky Mountain National Park, the trail to Emerald Lake passes by several other lakes on the way. On this one hike, you’ll see Bear Lake, Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, and finally Emerald Lake. And clocking in at just a little over 3 miles round trip, it’s hard to beat the reward-to-effort ratio on this one! Most visitors to RMNP have this hike on their bucket list, and for good reason! Don’t miss our blog post on the Emerald Lake hike for more need-to-know info!

Bucketlist Moments

  • See 4 stunning subalpine lakes on one hike.
  • In winter, the lakes freeze over and you can hike over them – literally walking on (frozen) water! Just be sure to check with a park ranger in advance to confirm the ice is dense enough!

Local Pro Tips

  • Emerald Lake is one of the busiest hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. I know we sound like a broken record but I cannot emphasize it enough: Get there early! Before 9 am is good, but even earlier is better.
  • Don’t underestimate the impact of the altitude if you are visiting Colorado from a location closer to sea level. This hike may feel more strenuous than ones of comparable distance and elevation gain at lower altitudes, because of how thin the air is at elevation. Emerald Lake sits over 10,000 feet above sea level. Combat altitude sickness by drinking more water than you think you need, and consider hiking with rehydration salts to mix with your water to keep your electrolyte levels high!

5. Bierstadt Lake

Distance: 3.2 miles
Elevation: 725 feet
Time: 2 hours
Difficulty: Moderate

Bierstadt Lake Trail Summary

Bierstadt Lake is an underrated moderately challenging hike in RMNP. One of the best things about this hike in my opinion is the view you get of the mountains during the entire ascent up Bierstadt Moraine. The trail is somewhat steep, but you literally get to stare at the mountains the entire time. At the top of the moraine, it’s a short walk through a beautiful pine forest before you arrive at the loop portion of the hike and with great views of Bierstadt Lake and the mountains behind it. Be sure to read our full blog post on the Bierstadt Lake hike if you plan to hike this one!

Sarah sits on a rock at Bierstadt Lake with Rocky Mountain views behind her
Bierstadt Lake

Bucketlist Moments

  • Enjoy this serene lake that gets far fewer visitors than Emerald Lake.
  • In the fall, you get one of the best views of the golden aspens as they change color while you climb Bierstadt Moraine.

Local Pro Tips

  • When you get to the top of the moraine, be sure to stay on the main trail. It will be the most obvious path but is the one furthest from the lakeshore itself. This can be a little confusing – why wouldn’t the trail hug the lake!? The trail closest to the lake is a bit misleading. It’s not an official trail and will take you through marshes and water where the trail disappears in summer, and into deep snow in winter. Trust me, stay on the main trail. The best view is yet to come…
  • And speaking of the best view, you’ll get that by taking the spur trail in towards the lake at the large wooden fence. There is a small wooden sign with an arrow that says “Bierstadt Lake”, yet many people miss it! This short trail will pop you out at a beautiful clearing where you can see the full Rocky Mountain range looming behind pristine Bierstadt Lake. And that boulder at the shoreline? Yeah, it’s a great photo spot!

6. Lake Haiyaha

Distance: 3.9 miles
Elevation: 865 feet
Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes
Difficulty: Moderate

Lake Haiyaha Trail Summary

Lake Haiyaha is my favorite moderate-difficulty trail in all of Rocky Mountain National Park. In the summer of 2022, a landslide deposited silt into the lake, turning it a milky teal blue color. It is the only lake of this color in the entire park, and no one knows for sure how long it will remain this hue. Prior to the rockslide, the water was the same color as other lakes in the park, like Emerald Lake for example. One of the other great things about this hike is that you will pass Bear Lake, Nymph Lake, and Dream Lake on your way. You can read more about this magical hike in our Lake Haiyaha blog post.

Lake Haiyaha
Lake Haiyaha

Bucketlist Moments

  • Experience the rare teal blue color of Lake Haiyaha, the result of a landslide in 2022.
  • Climb the boulders on the lakeshore for an added adventure to find your favorite vantage point of the lake.

Local Pro Tips

  • With a relatively short detour, you can add on Emerald Lake and make this an epic adventure where you can see 5 lakes in 5 miles.
  • Be careful in winter and spring at Lake Haiyaha. As the rockslide shows us, this area is prone to unpredictable geological activity, including landslides and, in spring and winter, avalanches. Also, note that Chaos Canyon (the large boulder field area behind the lake) is closed to all visitors due to the volatility of the landscape.

7. Mills Lake

Distance: 5.4 miles
Elevation: 856 feet
Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes
Difficulty: Moderate

Mills Lake Trail Summary

Mills Lake starts on the same trail as Alberta Falls, and in fact, you’ll get to pass the falls on your way to Mills Lake. This is one of the lesser-visited lake destinations on the Bear Lake Road Corridor. While you’re still likely to share the views with other hikers, you have a better shot of a more serene and peaceful experience here compared to Emerald Lake. Epic mountain views reward you when you arrive at Mills Lake.

Bucketlist Moments

  • Hiking in fall rewards you with golden leaves on the aspen trees throughout this hike.
  • Enjoy a lake relatively few visitors of RMNP get to see.

Local Pro Tips

  • This hike starts at the Glacier Gorge trailhead and parking fills up fast. Say it with me now: GET HERE EARLY!
  • Be on the lookout for wildlife on this trail. You may see deer, rabbits, elk, and many species of birds during your hike!

8. Loch Vale

Distance: 5.7 miles
Elevation: 1040 feet
Time: 3 hours
Difficulty: Moderate

Loch Vale Trail Summary

Also known simply as The Loch, the hike to Loch Vale is a moderately challenging trek that delivers one of the prettiest views in Rocky Mountain National Park. There’s just something about the imposing height of the mountains from this lake that wows me every time I go. This hike also starts at the Glacier Gorge trailhead, and you will hike past Alberta Falls on your way to The Loch. You can read more about Loch Vale in our blog post here!

Sarah and Tim stand in front of the mountain and lake at Loch Vale in Rocky Mountain National Park
Loch Vale

Bucketlist Moments

  • Take in one of the prettiest views in the park at Loch Vale
  • Congratulate yourself on reaching a true alpine lake, sitting at 10,190 feet above sea level

Local Pro Tips

  • For the best view, hike to the left of the lake when you get there and look for the little land peninsula that juts towards the mountains.
  • The hike to Loch Vale from Alberta Falls is steep and steady. We recommend hiking poles if you have them, to make the descent a bit easier on your knees and give you more control.

9. Sky Pond

Distance: 9.0 miles
Elevation: 1780 feet
Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Strenuous

Sky Pond Trail Summary

Sky Pond is the perfect trek for the experienced hiker who wants a challenge and major bragging rights. Often compared to the dramatic peaks of Patagonia in South America, the jagged mountaintops towering over Sky Pond are humbling and awe-inspiring. While still a popular hike, far fewer people continue along the trail past The Loch to Sky Pond, meaning crowds thin out substantially after Alberta Falls and Loch Vale. If you plan on hiking to Sky Pond, definitely check out our blog post all about what to expect and how to prepare for this fun and challenging hike!

Sarah and Tim kiss on a rock in front of the jagged peaks of Sky Pond
Sky Pond

Bucketlist Moments

  • The jagged peaks at Sky Pond are some of the most dramatic in Rocky Mountain National Park.
  • Sky Pond is considered one of Colorado’s premier alpine lakes. Tackling this one is absolutely a bucket list moment!

Local Pro Tips

  • Be careful going up Timberline Falls. The wet rocks are almost always slippery. In winter, microspikes are a must!
  • Don’t miss Lake of Glass near Timberline Falls. A lot of people don’t talk about this lake, as it’s often overshadowed by Sky Pond. But it’s worth spending some time enjoying as well!

Best Hikes in the Longs Peak Area

The Longs Peak area of Rocky Mountain National Park is outside of the main park boundaries, about 9 miles south of Estes Park. Parking fills up quickly here, even if you arrive early since this is the trailhead for one of Colorado’s popular 14ers (mountain taller than 14,000 feet). Summit hopefuls typically start their hikes at 3 am or earlier. Even though you don’t drive through an official entrance station to access this part of Rocky Mountain National Park, rangers do man the ranger station here and will check to make sure you have park entrance and, if it’s May through October, timed-entry permits (Option 2).

10. Chasm Lake

Distance: 8.5 miles
Elevation: 2500 feet
Time: 5 hours and 30 minutes
Difficulty: Strenuous

Chasm Lake Trail Summary

If you pressed us to name just ONE hike in Rocky Mountain National Park that is our absolute favorite, Chasm Lake is it! Epic mountain views, a unique tundra traverse, waterfalls, wildflowers, babbling streams, and bonus lakes all lead the way to Chasm Lake. A cirque basin in the shadow of Longs Peak (the tallest mountain in RMNP), Chasm Lake sits at a high elevation of 11,823 feet above sea level. This is a very challenging hike, and we only recommend it for those with advanced hiking experience. Our detailed blog post on the Chasm Lake hike has everything you need to know about the best hike in Rocky Mountain National Park!

Chasm Lake with views of Longs Peak is one of the best hikes in rocky mountain national park
Chasm Lake is one of the best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park

Bucketlist Moments

  • Traverse tundra on this high-altitude hike that takes you above tree line!
  • Stand in the shadow of Rocky Mountain National Park’s tallest mountain, Longs Peak, which towers over you at 14,259 feet above sea level.

Local Pro Tips

  • Given the high altitude of this hike, we also recommend spending a few days acclimating to the altitude in Estes Park or nearby before attempting this trek.
  • Don’t miss the most scenic toilet in the world as you near the final ascent to Chasm Lake. What makes it the most scenic? Well, there’s no official designation as such, but with views of Longs Peak from a cut-out window, I can’t imagine a more perfect bathroom view.

11. Longs Peak

Distance: 13.3 miles
Elevation: 4960 feet
Time: 9 hours and 30 minutes
Difficulty: Very Strenuous

Longs Peak Trail Summary

Not for the faint of heart, the hike to Longs Peak is one of the most challenging, and dangerous, in Rocky Mountain National Park. For those who are physically fit for the challenge and mentally prepared for the risks, however, hiking to the summit of Longs Peak is a thrilling and awe-inspiring accomplishment. Longs Peak is one of 53 recognized 14ers in the state of Colorado and the tallest peak in RMNP at 14,259 feet above sea level. If you attempt this hike, be sure to download a trail map beforehand and do your research on how to safely tackle this high-altitude and high-adrenaline adventure!

Bucketlist Moments

  • Summit one of Colorado’s iconic 14ers and the tallest mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Local Pro Tips

  • Unless you are an experienced mountain climber, we don’t recommend trying this one on your own. Go with a friend or a guide, and tell someone when you plan to return.
  • Start hiking at 3 am or earlier in order to complete your hike before noon, when afternoon thunderstorms roll into the area and bring with them a high risk of being struck by lightning.

Best Hikes on Trail Ridge Road

Trail Ridge Road is one of the most scenic drives in the park, and the highest continuous paved road in the United States. The road traverses higher than 12,000 feet above sea level, providing truly epic views of the mountains in all directions. It really feels like being on top of the world! Note that this road is only open to vehicles during the summer. Check out our blog post to read more about everything to see on a Trail Ridge Road trip. There are several trailheads on Trail Ridge Road, and here are some we think are particularly unique.

Gore Range Overlook on Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park
Gore Range Overlook on Trail Ridge Road

12. Holzwarth Historic Site

Distance: 1.2 miles
Elevation: 55 feet
Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Very Easy

Holzwarth Historic Site Trail Summary

The closest site to the town of Grand Lake on Trail Ridge Road, Holzwarth Historic Site is a fascinating short trail. The flat dirt path meanders around historic cabins and replicas of artifacts that exhibit the Holzwarth family’s homestead and resort from the 1910s. There are information boards along the trail explaining the significance of various locations.

Cabins at Holzwarth Historic Site
Cabins at Holzwarth Historic Site

Bucketlist Moments

  • Experience what life may have been like at a 1910s Rocky Mountain resort ranch.

Local Pro Tips

  • If the park volunteers are at Holzwarth, then one of the cabins may be open for you to see the inside!
  • The little stream that runs through the area is actually a very early part of the Colorado River (you know, the one that created the Grand Canyon), which begins just beyond Holzwarth Historic Site!

13. Alpine Ridge Trail

Distance: 0.7 miles
Elevation: 147 feet
Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

Alpine Ridge Trail Summary

When it to comes to being able to hike high above tree line without having to exert much effort, it doesn’t get better than the Alpine Ridge Trail. This paved trail is located at the Alpine Ridge Visitor Center, the highest visitor center in the US National Park system. Though this trail is fairly short, the stairs up to the viewpoint can feel particularly exhausting, due to the high elevation of this place. The views are more than worth it, however, as you get sweeping views of the Rocky Mountains in every direction.

Sarah stands on the paved steps of the Alpine Ridge Trail
Alpine Ridge Trail

Bucketlist Moments

  • Hike at nearly 12,000 feet without having to work too hard for it
  • Be awed by the panoramic views of the sweeping mountains in every direction

Local Pro Tips

  • It is almost always cold and windy at Alpine Ridge. I always wear layers, like a pullover or my Columbia jacket.
  • Stop in the cafe for a hot chocolate!

Best Hikes in Moraine Park

Moraine Park is technically a road off of Bear Lake Road, but since it really is its own hub, we’re calling it out separately. There are several day hikes and backpacking routes from this section of the park, and the best part is it is relatively less visited than other parts of Rocky Mountain National Park. Enjoy a bit of serenity and epic views on these trails!

Moraine Park in Rocky Mountain National Park
Moraine Park

14. Moraine Park Loop

Distance: 3.4 miles
Elevation: 357 feet
Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

Moraine Park Loop Trail Summary

For an easy hike in Moraine Park, the Moraine Park Loop Trail is your best bet. Suitable for families, this is also one of the best trails from which to spot wildlife, particularly elk, since they are known to frequent Moraine Park.

Bucketlist Moments

  • Spot a Rocky Mountain deer and elk (from a safe distance!) and see what other wildlife you may spot!
  • In the summer, enjoy the array of colorful wildflowers in Moraine Park and see why we call it “Colorful Colorado”!

Local Pro Tips

  • Never approach or feed wildlife, and be aware of elk in the fall mating season when they can be particularly aggressive!
  • Bring a pair of binoculars to get a close-up look at any animals you see, from a safe distance!

15. Odessa Lake

Distance: 9.3 miles
Elevation: 1978 feet
Time: 5 hours
Difficulty: Strenuous

Odessa Lake Trail Summary

The beauty of Odessa Lake is not just how secluded it is, nestled in a lesser visited section of RMNP, but also the uniqueness of the peaks that tower over the lake. From left (south) to right looking at the lake, you’ll get views of Flattop Mountain (12,324 feet), Notchtop Mountain (12,129 feet), Little Matterhorn (11,586 feet), Knobtop Mountain (12,331 feet), Gabletop Mountain (11,939 feet), and The Gable (11,018 feet). If you aren’t sure which peak is which, orient your eyes to Little Matterhorn. It looks like its namesake and is the most prominent peak at Odessa Lake. This is an excellent choice for a day hike, but also one of the best destinations for backpackers in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Bucketlist Moments

  • Enjoy one of the most unique alpine vistas of any lake in Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Make this a backpacking trip and stargaze at night

Local Pro Tips

  • If you plan to backpack, be sure to get your permit for wilderness camping!

Best Hikes in Grand Lake

Grand Lake is the main hub for the western side of Rocky Mountain National Park. There are several hotel options and amenities in Grand Lake, making it the second most popular base for visiting RMNP (Estes Park in the east is the most popular). While the eastern portion of the park gets the most hype, don’t underestimate the beauty and relative quiet of Grand Lake, which is a great base for hiking and for the western terminus of Trail Ridge Road.

Here are some hotels in Grand Lake if you make that your base:

Relative Luxury


Tim paddle boarding on Grand Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park
Grand Lake

16. Adams Falls

Distance: 0.8 miles
Elevation: 104 feet
Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Very Easy

Adams Falls Trail Summary

Looking for a waterfall you can hike to with the whole family in a half hour? Adams Falls is your best choice! This is an easy, mostly flat, trek to a waterfall on the western side of RMNP. With a very favorable effort-to-reward ratio, this is a great choice for those who don’t want a grueling trek but still want to see the iconic views Rocky Mountain National Park is famous for.

Bucketlist Moments

  • Enjoy an easy-to-hike-to yet lesser-visited waterfall on the remote western portion of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Local Pro Tips

  • Grand Lake is particularly hard to get to in winter when Trail Ridge Road is closed and mountain passes are home to erratic weather.
  • If you do hike here in winter, bring microspikes, as the icy trail is slippery!

Best Hikes in Wild Basin

Wild Basin Trailhead sits about 18 miles south of Estes Park, near the small town of Allenspark. Off the main highway (Colorado Highway 7), you’ll need to drive a little over 2 miles on a narrow gravel road to reach the trailhead. The road is suitable for two-wheel drive vehicles but may be a little rough with the rocky gravel.

17. Ouzel Lake

Distance: 10 miles
Elevation: 1683 feet
Time: 5 hours
Difficulty: Strenuous

Ouzel Lake Trail Summary

A beautiful hike through a pine forest, the trek to Ouzel Lake passes lovely Ouzel Falls on the way to this pristine alpine lake. Ouzel Lake is also known as one of the best fly-fishing destinations in Rocky Mountain National Park, particularly for greenback cutthroat trout. Note that fly fishing in Ouzel Lake is catch-and-release only). At the lake, you’ll have views of Mt. Copeland, Mahana Peak, and between the two, Ouzel Peak.

Bucketlist Moments

  • Try your fly fishing skills at Rocky Mountain National Park’s premier fly fishing lake.

Local Pro Tips

  • Since Wild Basin is oft-overlooked by out-of-town visitors, you won’t see many crowds at Ouzel Lake.

Map of the Best Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park

Final Thoughts on the Best Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park

We think Rocky Mountain National Park has some of the best hikes in the United States, and we hope this post helps you experience some of them! We’ll be adding to and updating this list of the best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park often as we continue to hike more throughout RMNP. Subscribe to our mailing list to be notified!

In the meantime, be sure to check out our other guides on Rocky Mountain National Park!

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