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13 Easy Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park (2023)

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Are you looking for the best easy hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park?

There’s no better way to experience the beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park than by getting out on foot and exploring some of the park’s many trails. And while some of the park’s hikes can be quite challenging, there are plenty of easy trails that offer stunning views of beautiful lakes and a great workout.

As Denver locals, we’ve visited Rocky Mountain National Park so many times. In fact, it’s our favorite day trip. Over the times we’ve visited, we’ve done many of the easier hikes, especially if we were visiting on a time crunch.

Here are some of the best easy hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park.

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Before hiking, make sure you have these essentials:

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

Easy Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park

Sprague Lake Loop

mountain lake surrounded by green trees

🥾 0.5 miles, easy

First up is the Sprague Lake Loop, one of the best shorter day hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s over by the popular Bear Lake area, but most people tend to miss out on this one, even though it’s relatively similar to Bear Lake.

This is an easy walk that just goes around the perimeter of the lake. In the winter, you’ll even find people out on the water when it freezes over, but do this at your own risk and safety.

The trail is less than a mile long and is perfect for hikers of all skill levels. It’s truly one of the nicest leisurely walks in the park, and it’s perfect if you’re only visiting for a day.

If you’re looking for an easy hike with stunning scenery, the Sprague Lake Loop is a perfect choice.

Emerald Lake Trail

frozen lake surrounded by snow covered mountains

🥾 3 miles, moderate

Next on this list of easy hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park is the Emerald Lake Trail. This is one of our favorite trails in the hike and it’s everyone else’s too, so be warned that this trail is always busy, unless you visit in winter. That’s the most serene time over on this trail!

To avoid crowds, start early in the morning. We often start this trail in the dark but only recommend it like that if you’re comfortable with it. We will get there around 4:30 a.m. to beat those who have park timed entry passes, so we can enjoy it just with other early risers. This allows us to see the sunrise at the lake, too.

This trail is relatively easy and you’ll see four different lakes along the hike. You’ll start at Bear Lake, then head uphill to Nymph Lake (which is filled with Lilly pads), then continue on to Dream Lake, and finally, end at Emerald Lake. Our personal fave along the way is Dream Lake, but they’re all beautiful.

Bear Lake Loop

clear lake surrounded by mountain covered trees

🥾 0.6 miles, easy

The Bear Lake Loop may very well be one of the most trafficked parts of the park, and that’s because it’s also where many other trails start, like the one to Alberta Falls, Lake Haiyaha, and of course, Emerald Lake!

This trail is only 0.6 miles and is a very tranquil walk all the way around the lake. There are benches throughout where you can sit and just take in the view. It truly does make a great picnic spot!

Because this trail is always so busy, prepare for crowds, especially if visiting in the summer. In the fall and winter though, this trail is a little less busy and is still just as beautiful. The trail is relatively level, so it’s great for families or those looking for an easy walk.

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    Lily Lake

    🥾 0.8 miles, easy

    For another great short day hike in Rocky Mountain, head over to Lily Lake. It’s similar to both Bear Lake and Sprague Lake, so it’s the perfect hike for families or those wanting a more accessible and flat-level trail to walk.

    This easy hike goes right around the edge of the lake which is surrounded by beautiful green trees and the towering mountains in the distance. There are stunning views the entire time. Even though this is an easier hike, it’s less frequented than some other ones on this list.

    Often, you can even see moose along the trail here. Keep in mind that they are more likely to be out in the mornings when there are fewer people!

    Gem Lake Trail

    small river flowing between mountain and grassy bank

    🥾 3 miles, moderate

    For a moderate trail, head over to the Gem Lake Trail. It’s still on the easier side due to its length and other are beautiful views along the way. It’s truly a gem of a spot (see what I did there?) so you won’t want to miss out on it.

    This lake is surrounded by granite rocks and the water comes from the snow melting as well as rainwater in the park. There are great views of the mountains in nearby Estes Park from the tranquil lake here.

    The hardest part of this hike is the large rock scramble at the very end of the hike, but it’s not impossible to do by any means. It’s worth it enough to take in the beautiful lake, especially if you want to visit one that isn’t as often visited.

    Dream Lake Trail

    trees reflecting off of a mountain lake

    🥾 2 miles, easy

    While you do see Dream Lake on the way up to Emerald Lake, this is still one of the best easy hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. In fact, the hardest part of the hike to Emerald Lake is actually the part from Dream Lake to Emerald Lake, because that’s where most of the elevation is!

    So, you’d be skipping out on that by stopping here. We also think this lake is even more beautiful than Emerald Lake… so, do with that what you will!

    The trail up to Dream Lake is very well marked and includes beautiful views the entire way. You still see two other lakes on the way up, both Nymph Lake and Bear Lake. There are some great rocks near this lake where you can sit and enjoy some lunch or just a granola bar.

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    Ute Trail – Tombstone Ridge

    🥾 4 miles, easy

    Next up is the Ute Trail to Tombstone Ridge. Most people don’t even know about this trail, but it’s one of the more historic ones in the park, making it well worth the hike. Overall, it’s around 500 feet of elevation gain, though AllTrails may tell you differently!

    Keep in mind that this is a seasonal trail; you can only hike it during the time that Trail Ridge Road is open, which is often late May/early June through October. The exact time that it is open changes every year, so be sure to do some quick research beforehand.

    In total, it takes around 3 hours to hike this trail. It’s a short day hike that is perfect for those wanting to hike a trail that’s not as often traveled. It does work a bit opposite of other trails; you technically start at the best view that you’ll have the whole time, but it’s still worth it!

    The altitude of this hike is also higher, so be sure to make sure you’re acclimated to Colorado before starting this one.

    Cub Lake Trail Loop

    🥾 6 miles, moderate

    The Cub Lake Trail Loop is a moderate trail that’s approximately 6 miles long with around 750 feet of elevation gain. It is a loop trail, so you’ll see different views the entire time, versus a hike like Emerald Lake which is out and back.

    Parts of it are a little bit rocky but it’s very worth it. Cub Lake may not be as beautiful as some other lakes throughout the park, but it’s still very much worth seeing it. Keep in mind that a lot of the hike is very much exposed, so you’ll want to be prepared for that if hiking in the summer.

    The trail is fairly well-marked and there are beautiful landscapes along the way. Keep an eye out for the wildlife – people often see elk, deer, and even birds along this one!

    Adams Falls Trail

    🥾 0.8 miles, easy

    The Adams Falls Trail is one of the best easy hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s on the Grand Lake side of the park and only takes around 20-30 minutes in total to fully hike, so it’s perfect for those only staying a day in the park!

    There’s barely any elevation gain; it’s around 100 feet total and is perfect for beginners. The waterfall is beautiful and is fairly loud, so it drowns out the noise that you may here elsewhere in the park. It’s also very well maintained and is partly shaded throughout the day, so it’s not as exposed.

    Bierstadt Lake Loop Trail

    trees surrounding a lake with snow capped mountains behind

    🥾 About 3 miles, easy/moderate 

    For a trail closer to 3 miles that’s on the cusp of easy and moderate, consider doing the Bierstadt Lake Loop Trail. It’s a short day hike by the Bear Lake Trailhead, so it’s in the fairly popular part of the park. However, it’s not as visited as the actual Bear Lake or Emerald Lake!

    There are beautiful trees that surround the park which makes it truly photographic. Sometimes you can even find animals in the distance in the trees. On a calm day, you can even capture a photo of the mountains and trees reflecting in the water, which is picture-perfect.

    This lake is one of the most beautiful in Rocky Mountain National Park, and it’s definitely worth stopping to take some photos.

    Glacier Gorge Trail

    🥾 3.3 miles, easy

    The Glacier Gorge Trail is one of the more underrated trails in the park because it’s not as often visited! It only takes around an hour and a half to do. There are around 600 feet of elevation gain with 3 miles in total.

    The beginning of the trail truly takes your breath away, the views are absolutely incredible. Note that it does get a bit more difficult towards the end so you’ll want to just be prepared for that. In the summer, this trail can also get a bit buggy, but it’s worth fending them off for the views.

    Alberta Falls Trail

    snow covering a rocky portion of a mountain

    🥾 1.6 miles, easy

    In the summer, Alberta Falls is one of the most popular places to visit, and for good reason! With just a 1.6-mile hike from Bear Lake, you can take in the beautiful view of this waterfall.

    While it does only have 200 feet of elevation gain, note that the beginning of the hike feels very up and down – every time you go up in elevation, you go down and then back up again! It’s worth it for the view of the falls, though.

    Consider looping this hike with others in the area, like Emerald Lake or Lake Haiyaha, if you want to see more while you’re over on the Bear Lake Corridor. In the winter, we found this trail absolutely breathtaking and were lucky enough to witness it with just one other group.

    Lake Haiyaha

    lake surrounded by rocky mountains and trees

    🥾 4 miles, moderate

    Last but certainly not least is Lake Haiyaha. While this is a moderate trail, it’s still worth mentioning on this list of easy hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, because it’s not super difficult and is still one of the easier hikes in the park.

    It’s around 4 miles round trip and you actually hike all the way up to Dream Lake first. Then, you take a left and start to rapidly go up in elevation before the trail significantly levels out until you do a rock scramble. Finally, you’ll look up and witness the beautiful turquoise waters of this lake.

    Hands-down, Lake Haiyaha is our favorite lake in the entire park. If you’re lucky enough to visit in 2022, you may even witness the result of the rock flour from the rock slide that caused the water to turn a milky neon blue color – it’s immaculate.

    Final Thoughts: RMNP Easy Hikes

    This post was all about the best easy hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. Which one is your favorite?

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