Lily Ridge Trail

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

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Lily Ridge Trail is a hiking trail in Larimer County, Colorado. It is within Rocky Mountain National Park. It is 0.7 miles long and begins at 8,938 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 1.4 miles with a total elevation gain of 445 feet. Lily Lake Trailhead and other information signs are near the trailhead. There are also parkings. Along the trail there are a bare rock and an information sign.
Distance: mi Elevation: ft
Lily Ridge Trail is a hiking trail in Larimer County, Colorado. It is within Rocky Mountain National Park. It is 0.7 miles long and begins at 8,938 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 1.4 miles with a total elevation gain of 445 feet. Lily Lake Trailhead and other information signs are near the trailhead. There are also parkings. Along the trail there are a bare rock and an information sign.
Activity Type: Fishing, Hiking, Snowshoeing, Trail Running, Walking
Nearby City: Rocky Mountain National Park
Distance: 0.7
Elevation Gain: 445 feet
Trailhead Elevation: 8,938 feet
Top Elevation: 9,116 feet
Additional Use: Skiing
Accessibility: Kid-friendly
Driving Directions: Directions to Lily Ridge Trail
Parks: Rocky Mountain National Park
Elevation Min/Max: 8931/9116 ft
Elevation Start/End: 8938/8938 ft

Lily Ridge Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"Lily Lake’s level loop trail may be the easiest place in Rocky Mountain National Park to see a variety of woody plants—but no pondlilies. Lily Lake, or Lake of the Lilies, was smaller and shallower when tourist Isabella Bird mentioned it in her travel book, A Lady’s Life in the Rockies, in 1873. A dam to enlarge the lake into a reservoir in 1915 made it too deep to support pondlilies. Before its acquisition by the national park in 1992, Lily Lake served as a movie set for the epic television miniseries Centennial, based on James A. Michener’s novel of Colorado history.

Rocky Mountain National Park built a wheelchair-accessible trail at the lake, as well as a spur trail called the Lily Ridge Trail, which takes rock climbers closer to cliffs above the lake. The NPS also bolstered the strength of the dam it inherited with the lake just in time to survive the huge fl ood that occurred along the Front Range in September 2013. The popularity of this easily accessible enlarged lake exploded with park acquisition."

"Lily Lake, as the name suggests, is a lily-pad-covered, mirrored mountain tarn just outside Rocky Mountain National Park’s east boundary. This is the best drive-up greenback cutthroat fishing on the planet.

Lily Lake is home to a brood population of greenback cutthroat trout that stay fat on the insects growing in the pond’s lush vegetation, and they can be picky with all that food to eat. The best fishing is just after ice-out with small lures and spinners or attractor wet flies, then again in late June when the damselflies hatch. Both Renegades and bead-head Hare’s Ears work well during the damselfly hatch. During the heat of day in midsummer, the action tapers off, but nymphs, Woolly Buggers, and scuds worked around the edges of the weed beds can be effective. Just after the sun goes down on those hot days, swarms of caddis flies and midges cover the water and bring up the lake’s bigger fish, some up to 16 inches."

"Lily Lake has no lily pads, but wild lilies do grow nearby, or perhaps it was named for a woman. This short, easy stroll around the sparkling lake, surrounded by the sandstone cliffs of Lily Mountain and the magnificent massif of Meeker and Longs Peaks and Estes Cone, is suitable for people of all ages.

For a spectacular view of Meeker and Long Peaks and Estes Cone from on high, go counterclockwise, north from the parking area. In .25 mile take the fainter trail to the north that will take you on a 200-foot climb onto the ridge of Lily Mountain. The trail travels north and switchbacks south through trees to the overlook. From the top of the trail you can enjoy the dazzling water of the lake and the impressive mountain backdrop."

"Lily Ridge Trail offers hikers a little variety to the hike around Lily Lake. It gives novice hikers their first experience with an ascent and gets kids out of the stroller and onto the trail. This is a popular spot for anglers, picnickers, and hikers. Anglers line the shore and can be found bobbing around in individual fishing tubes.

The Lily Ridge Trail travels from the east end of Lily Lake to its west end along the ridge to the north of the lake. Immediately look out across Lily Lake toward Longs Peak. Begin to head away from the views of the lake and up over a fake summit and ridge. Now you will glance toward Estes Park and see the rooftops of Camp Cheley. The trail levels off and heads west along the ridge a few hundred feet above the lake. Cross up through large rocks to a small bench that offers a nice respite and fantastic views of Longs Peak."

"The Twin Sisters sit at the easternmost edge of Rocky Mountain National Park and are accessed without entering the park. The trail winds through forest with some of the best panoramic views of Longs Peak. This is a great conditioning climb for those wanting to tackle considerable elevations.

Hikers ascend rather quickly and must scramble across some early rocks. The trail takes a deep right switchback and continues up the face of the mountain. Switchbacks and man-made rock staircases help lessen the burn of the ascent. Continue to climb, and then cross a rockslide and enter Rocky Mountain National Park. The trail becomes much steeper here, with a large staircase looming in the distance. Turn and look to the right, taking in the first amazing views of Longs Peak as it rises up over the Tahosa Valley."

"Lily Mountain is an ideal first ascent for beginning climbers and their parents. This 1000-foot climb requires some huffing ’n’ puffing, followed by a short but fun rock scramble to the summit. As in every good climb, views from the top are most rewarding. Predawn hikers may view a spectacular sunrise from the summit, plus enjoy a cool, solitary hike.

A stop at the Lily Lake Visitor Center adds to everyone’s understanding of the terrain bordering the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park. The climb begins directly at the trailhead at the small parking area. The first 0.7 mile parallels the highway and ascends the ridge. Limber pines interspersed with imposing rock groups decorate the slope. Stop at the pines to let kids carefully bend the trees’ branches. Explain that “limber” is another word for “flexible.” Have them count the number of needles in a bundle. Limber pines are the only Colorado tree that bears five-needle bundles."

"Lily Mountain is ideal for Estes Park visitors who don’t have the time to hike in the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park. This is a classic alpine hike with rewarding views and a steady climb. Lily Mountain is often passed over for other hikes in the vicinity, such as Twin Sisters, and the hike is often confused with the small walk around Lily Lake. In addition, it’s usually kept a secret and out of brochures, making this hike one of the least crowded around Estes Park.

The first half mile parallels CO 7 as the shaded trail begins its ascent along the ridge. Large pines and boulder clusters dominate the landscape here. The hard-packed dirt trail has loose rocks and some exposed tree roots. Expect snow on the trail if you hike outside of the recommended seasons. We hiked in early winter and encountered packed snow from the trailhead on. Early in the trail the landscape also includes aspen trees and consistent light filtering through them. The trail takes an uncharacteristic dip and then flattens out before ascending a small man-made staircase and starting a series of small switchbacks. As the trail crests, the Estes Park Valley, Marys Lake, and the southern portion of the town of Estes Park come into view."

"Lily Lake offers hikers some of the best mountain views from an easy, roadside trail. The Diamond Face of Longs Peak towers to the south; the Twin Sisters, rocky escarpments skirted in scenic woodlands, lie to the east; and Lily Mountain, yet another spectacular stone-crowned peak, dominates the northern horizon. The broad, flat path begins by winding along the base of Lily Mountain, then meanders through meadow and open forest on the west shore of the lake, and finally passes through a wetlands area, populated by a variety of water fowl, on the southern shore. If you have the time, you can hike the nearby Lily Mountain trail, which lies outside the park proper.

To reach the trailhead, take US Highway 36 east about 4 miles to the intersection of US Highways 34, 36 and Colo. Hwy. 7 on the east side of downtown Estes Park. Take Highway 7 south 6.5 miles to a right turn into the Lily Lake parking area. The trail begins on the north side of the parking lot."

"This hike lies just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park. The vista from the summit is impressive, especially the view of Longs Peak. Lily Lake lies to the south and is not encountered on this route, nor is any running water. But this lake (located a couple of miles away on the highway) is a good after-hike place to stop and have a picnic. There is a Rocky Mountain National Park information center with rest rooms and interpretative displays on the opposite side of the highway.

Lily Mountain is nearly completely covered with a thick forest of lodgepole pine. These pines typically are the result of a past wildfire, since they require heat for their cones to split open. Dense, mature forest of lodgepole, such as on Lily Mountain, are the least diverse of Colorado’s forests, with rows of seemingly same-age, same-species trees that tend to exclude other plant species and limit the variety of species of animals."

Recent Trail Reviews

7/28/2009
1

This trail was a bit noisy in the beginning as it runs along Hwy 7. It is short (2miles) and sweet, steady uphill climb for the most part. Little bit of scrambling up rocks at the summit but well worth the effort (even for someone like me who isn't in to scrambling much) Nice view of Estes and Twin Sisters, etc.4 stars for the sleeping bear we saw! what a treat



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May 2018