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15 Best Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park

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Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the great outdoor experiences in all of Colorado. With a vast and impressive range of mountains, valleys, rivers, and lakes, it’s an ideal spot for adventurous hikers.

From grand peaks towering over 13,000 feet to alpine meadows dotted with wildflowers, Rocky Mountain National Park has something for everyone. (Plus, did we mention how gorgeous the sunsets, sunrises, and lakes are here? They’re to die for.)

As Denver locals, we visited Rocky Mountain National Park all the time. Seriously, it’s our favorite park of all time, and we love bringing family and friends there when they visit. That’s why we wanted to put together this post!

Whether you’re just out for a day hike or planning an overnight excursion, here are some of our favorite best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park that promise stunning views and plenty of exploration.

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Before hiking, make sure you have these essentials:

🎒 Hiking backpack: Here’s the one I use & love!
💧 Water bladder: This is the water bladder I recommend!
💦 Water bottle: I love and use the Hydroflask 32 oz!
🥾 Hiking boots: These are the hiking boots I use!
🩹 First aid kit: This is a great first aid kit for your backpack!
🥨 Snacks: Clif Bars are my go-to on the trail!
🌲 Hiking poles: These hiking poles are a great option!
❄️ Microspikes: These are the ones I use when the trails are icy!
☀️ Sunscreen: This is a great hiking sunscreen!

Best Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park

Alpine Ridge Trail

🥾 0.62 miles, easy

Alpine Ridge Trail is a short, sweet, and scenic hike located in Rocky Mountain National Park. At just over a half mile long, it’s an easy trail for all skill levels and ages.

From June to October, it’s vibrant wildflowers, and sweeping views make it one of the best hikes the park has to offer. Plus, did we mention it’s just a short hike to a viewpoint near the visitor center?

This path is paved, making your journey even more delightful. The view from the top is majestic – you can see for miles! It’s no wonder Alpine Ridge Trail is so beloved by locals and visitors alike.

Keep in mind that this trail is infamous for being windy, especially in the afternoons. Don’t wear your favorite hat; it might fly away!

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    Emerald Lake Trail (includes Nymph + Dream Lakes)

    Lake surrounded by mountains.

    🥾 3 miles, moderate

    The Emerald Lake Trail is one of the best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s a moderate 3-mile hike, so it’s perfect for those looking for a rewarding experience without the intense physical challenge.

    The trail passes by three stunningly beautiful lakes – Dream, Nymph, and Emerald – and offers incredible views of the surrounding forest and mountains. You might even spot some local wildlife!

    Since this is such a popular trail, you’ll want to start your hike early in the morning to beat the crowds. This will also give you a chance to enjoy the tranquil atmosphere of your surroundings as well as plenty of time to explore each lake.

    Whenever someone is visiting RMNP with just one day (or is at least on a limited time), we always recommend Emerald Lake out of all the hikes in the park. It’s one of our favorites. In the winter, the trail gets super slippery, though, so keep that in mind.

    Continental Divide Trail

    🥾 2.3 miles, easy

    Continental Divide Trail is an excellent choice for hikers looking to explore the beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park. At just over 2.3 miles long and offering breathtaking views, this easy hike is perfect for people of all skill levels and ages.

    The terrain is mostly flat, with about 200 feet in elevation gain, making it ideal for those just getting started on their hiking adventure. Plus, it’s rather quiet, so you can take in the sounds of nature without feeling overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of other hikers.

    The scenery along the Continental Divide Trail is what makes it truly special, there’s something new to see around every corner. You can even spot wildlife if you’re lucky! All of this combined makes it one of the best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park.

    Flattop Mountain Trail

    Empty trail in the mountains.

    🥾 8.5 miles, hard

    Flattop Mountain Trail is one of the best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park for many reasons. For starters, it’s 8.5 miles long and can take about 5.5 hours to complete. This makes it a great challenge for hikers looking for an adventurous trail.

    Additionally, the trail offers stunning views of much of the surrounding park from its summit. Lastly, due to its high elevation, it’s recommended to start this hike early in the day so as to avoid thunderstorms or other high-altitude weather issues that could disrupt or even cancel your hike altogether.

    For those looking for a great challenge and amazing views, Flattop Mountain Trail is one of the best hikes Rocky Mountain National Park has to offer!

    Fern Lake Trail

    Trail leading through the mountains.

    🥾 7.5 miles, moderate

    Fern Lake Trail is one of the best treks in Rocky Mountain National Park for a number of reasons. The 7.5-mile moderate hike takes about 4 hours to complete and features beautiful views, even though it does pass through a previously-burned area.

    Along the way, hikers get to take in stunning views of towering peaks, alpine meadows, and pristine lakes. The trail also passes by a breathtaking waterfall. Additionally, this trail is also rich with wildlife: moose and deer are often seen along the path!

    What makes Fern Lake Trail truly special is that it’s an all-around great experience: the sights and sounds of nature, the challenge of conquering a mountain trail, and the feeling of accomplishment that comes at its end.

    Lake Haiyaha Trail

    Blue lake surrounded by tall rocky mountains under snow.

    🥾 4 miles, moderate

    The Lake Haiyaha Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most beautiful and well-loved hikes in the park, with stunning views and unique geological formations. It’s a moderate 4-mile hike, perfect for hikers who want a challenge but don’t want to tackle something too strenuous.

    There is quite a bit of elevation gain along this trail, so be aware that if you don’t like heights or steep drop-offs, you might find it difficult. However, the payoff is worth it – on a clear day, you can catch amazing views!

    One of the best features of this trail is that it gives visitors one of the best chances to catch an incredible sunrise over the mountains and the lake. Make sure to get up early for an unforgettable experience!

    Chasm Lake Trail

    🥾 8 miles, hard

    Chasm Lake Trail is one of the best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s an 8-mile round-trip hike that ends with beautiful views from Chasm Lake. The trail is quite steep and can be very challenging, but it’s absolutely worth it for the breathtaking views.

    It’s always best to start early, as you will want to make sure you have plenty of time to enjoy the view, as well as take in the mountain air and listen to the calming sound of nature. (Plus, you can avoid mountain thunderstorms this way.)

    Along the way, there are several jagged peaks with snow-capped summits to admire before arriving at your destination. Once you reach Chasm Lake, you can bask in some of the most spectacular views that Rocky Mountain National Park has to offer.

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    Sky Pond Trail (via Glacier Gorge)

    🥾 8.6 miles, hard

    Sky Pond Trail is one of the best trails in Rocky Mountain National Park for many reasons. It’s an 8.6-mile hard hike, but the rewards are worth the effort; hikers get to witness gorgeous alpine lakes and majestic mountain peaks as they trek along the trail.

    This is a popular trail that requires preparation and planning; it’s best to start early since it’s a challenging route. In the winter months, this trail is easy to lose because of the snow, so always make sure you have a copy of the trail map with you at all times.

    Longs Peak via Boulder Brook and North Longs Peak Trail

    Sign on a mountain that leads to trails.

    🥾 16 miles, hard

    Long’s Peak is one of the must-hike trails in Rocky Mountain National Park (only if you are experienced). Starting early in the morning ensures you have plenty of time to complete the 16-mile trail since it can be especially dangerous if you don’t have enough experience.

    The trail is also one of Colorado’s 14ers and it has 5,000+ feet of elevation, making it an extremely difficult climb even for experienced hikers who are familiar with high altitudes. Make sure to plan ahead and be prepared for a challenging day hike if you decide to attempt Long’s Peak.

    Want to learn more about hiking a 14er? We have a whole post on how to prepare for your first 14er from a Colorado local.

    Alberta Falls

    Waterfall through a forest.

    🥾 1.6 miles, easy

    Alberta Falls is an easy 1.6-mile trail, so it’s perfect for those who don’t have a lot of hiking experience or want a leisurely stroll through nature. The trail isn’t as popular as some other trails near Bear Lake and Emerald Lake, so if you’re looking to take a hike away from the crowds, Alberta Falls is perfect.

    Additionally, the trail is shaded by trees lining the path, making it ideal for hiking during the summer or warmer months. The end view is unforgettable – a gorgeous waterfall with nature at every angle. Bring your camera along to capture this beautiful view, and make sure to bring enough water before heading out!

    Odessa Lake (via Bear Lake, Flattop Mountain, and Fern Lake Trail)

    Woman hiking on a trail near the water.

    🥾 8.6 miles, moderate

    Odessa Lake is one of the most rewarding hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. Its 8.6-mile trail is moderately challenged, so it’s suitable for both experienced and novice hikers (if they’re up for it and feel they can do it).

    The lake itself is a sight to behold – its pure blue waters are so beautiful that they will take your breath away! It typically takes about 4.5 hours to complete the hike, but the views make it worth it.

    You’ll get to see lush green forests and rocky outcroppings as you make your way up the trail to Odessa Lake, making this an unforgettable adventure into nature.

    Twin Sisters Peak Trail

    🥾 7.4 miles, hard

    Twin Sisters Peak Trail is a popular RMNP hike, and it’s easy to see why. It’s the perfect choice for those preparing for a 14er, as the 7.4-mile hard hike will give even experienced hikers a good workout at a high altitude.

    The views from the summit are truly remarkable, making the arduous journey worth it in the end! With all these factors combined, it’s no wonder that Twin Sisters Peak Trail is considered one of the must-do hikes in this famous Colorado park.

    Gem Lake

    🥾 3.2 miles, moderate

    Gem Lake is one of the most popular hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park and for a good reason! This 3.2-mile moderate trail features stunning views from the top, giving you a breathtaking panorama of the landscape ahead of you.

    The lake itself is serene and peaceful, and when combined with the surrounding mountain views, it’s easy to see why Gem Lake is so special. Wildlife can be spotted along the trail as well, adding to its beauty.

    Whether you’re looking for an easy day hike or a more challenging adventure, Gem Lake has something to offer everyone.

    The Loch (via Glacier Gorge Trail)

    Calm lake surrounded by forest and tall mountains.

    🥾 5.3 miles, moderate

    The Loch is a 5.3-mile moderate hike that usually takes just under 3 hours to complete, making it perfect for a day outing. The views are spectacular, so make sure you bring your camera!

    In addition, this trail is great for snowshoeing in the winter. Hiking through the snow-covered trees can be an other-worldly experience and is something that everyone should try at least once.

    For those wanting to get a moderate hike outside of the Bear Lake area, we can’t recommend The Loch enough!

    Storm Pass

    🥾 14.5 miles, moderate

    Storm Pass is a moderate 14.5-mile hike that takes around 8 hours to complete, and it’s a lesser-hiked trail, making it the perfect place to get away from the crowds and experience nature in all its glory.

    The views along Storm Pass are some of the best in the park. You’ll witness some of the most beautiful wildflowers in bloom and meet some of the friendly wildlife that calls this area home. All these elements combine to make Storm Pass an unforgettable hiking experience!

    Final Thoughts: Rocky Mountain National Park Hiking

    The best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park are all unique in their own way. Whether you’re looking for a scenic stroll or an adrenaline-pumping adventure, there is something here to meet your needs and provide lasting memories.

    From the majestic views of Longs Peak to the waterfalls of Alberta Falls, RMNP offers an abundance of activities for outdoor enthusiasts. No matter which trails you choose, each hike promises stunning scenery and a chance to explore nature’s beauty up close.

    So grab your gear and get ready for the ultimate Rocky Mountain experience!

    Read more of our Rocky Mountain posts:

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