Top 5 Day Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park is filled with beautiful lakes, waterfalls, and high mountain peaks. There is a hike for everyone within the park boundaries. Whether you are looking for a short stroll like Bear Lake or an all day climb of Long's Peak, you are sure to find exactly what you are looking for in the park. Below is a list of the best day hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Day Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park

Lily Lake

Lily Lake Trail is a short .8 mile walk circling Lily Lake. The trail is flat and wheelchair accessible. There are great views of Long's Peak, Mount Meeker, Estes Cone, and Lily Mountain. This is a popular spot for picnics and anglers. You are likely to find ducks on the lake and wildflowers blanketing the meadow. Lily lake is a beautiful spot for families with small children or older grandparents looking for a short and simple walk. Looking for something more difficult? Try the Twin Sisters Peaks located directly across the street.

Gem Lake

best day hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park

Gem Lake is a shallow body of water located among beautiful granite outcroppings. I like to hike this from the Twin Owls Trailhead making it a 3.6 mile round trip and 920 feet of elevation gain. The trail takes you through dense forest and past huge boulders. There are opportunities for rock climbing and bouldering for people of all skill levels. The lower elevation makes Gem Lake accessible year-round. You'll enjoy wonderful views of the town of Estes Park, Long's Peak, and the Continental Divide.

Ouzel Falls

Ouzel Falls is located in the beautiful Wild Basin and is a 2.7 mile hike (one way) up Thunder Lake Trail. Water plummets 50 feet in a beautiful rocky section of Ouzel Creek making a wonderful backdrop for your family photo. You'll climb 960 feet of elevation through wildflowers, Aspen, and Pine Forests and cross many small creeks. Be sure to stop at Calypso Cascades on the way for another cool spot to hang out by the water. Still got some energy? Continue on to Ouzel Lake or the summit of Copeland Mountain.

Lawn Lake

Day hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park
Alluvial Fan located below Lawn Lake

Lawn Lake is a wonderful backcountry destination located at 10,987 feet. Follow the Lawn Lake Trail 6.3 miles (one way) through steep pine forest and debris from the Lawn Lake Flood. The Lawn Lake Trail follows the Roaring River and takes you through the scarred river valley left behind by the flood of 1982. The high alpine lake is a destination of its own or a great resting point before climbing on to the Saddle or the Summit of Mummy Mountain (13,425 ft).

Flattop Mountain

Flattop Mountain is the easiest way to access the Continental Divide and has a well maintained trail all the way to the 12,324 foot summit. Start at the Bear Lake Trailhead then follow the Flattop Mountain Trail above tree line and to the summit. The mountain top is flat and provides excellent views in all directions. Ready for some more? Continue on to the summit of nearby Hallet Peak (12,713) or run the ridge all the way to Otis Peak (12,486) and Taylor Peak (13,153).

These 5 hikes will give you a taste of what Rocky Mountain National Park has to offer. From short walks around a lake to strenuous mountain peaks, RMNP has something for everyone. As always, bring a map, plenty of water and be prepared for changing weather conditions. But most of all, have fun exploring.
Andy Hawbaker
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Andy Hawbaker
Andy is a hiker, backpacker, snowboarder and outdoor fanatic. When he isn't exploring the Rocky Mountains, burning marshmallows or scratching his dog behind the ear, he shares his experiences here on the Sierra Trading Post Blog.
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