On January 16, 1915, President Woodrow Wilson signed the legislation that created Rocky Mountain National Park. Hikers have been grateful to him ever since. The park is between Fort Collins and Boulder in north-central Colorado. It encompasses approximately 415 square miles. The park has more than 355 miles of trails, making it a premier hiking destination. These trails traverse the countryside, pass by lakes and waterfalls, and climb the rugged slopes of the breathtaking Rockies.
Various trails meander by lakes. A very easy and short one is the Bear Lake Trail, a .6-mile loop. The Cub Lake Trail is a moderately difficult loop (6.1 miles) that rewards its hikers with a panoramic view. The Bluebird Lake Trail is much more strenuous, with a length of 12.4 miles round trip. It takes the hiker through the Ouzel Lake area. The Lone Pine Lake Trail offers an 11-mile round trip trail along a stream. It passes the scenic Adams Falls.
Waterfall trails are among the most popular in Rocky Mountain National Park. A beginner-friendly path is the Alberta Falls Trail. A hike of about a half-mile leads to a view of Glacier Creek cascading down the mountain. Those undertaking the Cascade Falls Trail can rest beside the waterfall that gives the trail its name before finishing the 6.8 mile hike. On the eastern side of the park is the Timberline Falls Trail, a demanding hike of 8 miles that culminates with breathtaking views of Loch Vale.
For those who prefer their hiking with a coating of white there are winter hikes at the park, mostly on the eastern side. Check with park rangers for avalanche potential and weather conditions before trying any of these day hikes. For an unparalleled view of the Continental Divide, a visitor with skis or snowshoes should try the Deer Mountain Trail, a 6-mile round trip that begins among majestic ponderosa pines and heads uphill toward the summit. The Gem Lake Trail has a rating of moderate and hikers will pass by the lake and rock formations. Signs of beaver, frozen solid waterfalls, and rock outcroppings await those that negotiate the 1.7 miles to The Pool via the Fern Lake Trailhead.
Mountain Summit Hikes
There are various hiking and mountaineering routes that will take you to summits such as Sundance Mountain, Twin Sisters Peaks, Mount Richtofenand and Flattop Mountain. The strenuous, heavily trafficked 8.9 mile hike to Flattop Mountain begins from the Bear Lake Trailhead and provides outstanding views from over 12,000 ft. Check with the National Park Service for trail and weather conditions before attempting summit hikes. Hikers should also be prepared for extreme sun exposure, wind, cool temperatures, and rapidly changing weather conditions while on the trail. Make sure you have the proper gear with you, and know what safety precautions you need to consider beforehand.