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Best Day Hike

San Francisco
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101 posts
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Best Day Hike

What's the best easy to moderate day hike (1-5 miles) in the park for one athletic adult and 2 teen boys? We'll be staying in the Northeast area at the Aspenglen campground. Interested in views and wildlife. Thanks!

Northern Colorado
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26 posts
18 reviews
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1. Re: Best Day Hike

Welcome to our area.

My family enjoys hikes from the Bear Lake area. The hike up to Dream Lake and Emerald Lake has great scenery. That area can be crowded sometimes, but many folks do not venture beyond Bear Lake. Dream Lake is just over a mile from the parking lot, and Emerald Lake is just under 2 miles. Both have some elevation gain.

Another hike I like is the Lawn Lake trail from the Horseshoe Park area. This is closer to your campground. There are a couple of trails here. Ypsilon Lake is about 4 1/2 miles from the trail head one way.

Enjoy your stay.

San Francisco
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2. Re: Best Day Hike

Thanks Mike!

I see from the map that this could be a loop by including Alberta Falls. Have you ever done this and what direction would you go if you did?

Loveland, Colorado
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631 posts
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3. Re: Best Day Hike

Hi there!

If you're going to be hiking on a weekend, I wouldn't really recommend the Emerald Lake hike as it gets soooo crowded! Just a personal preference. I like to hike without have 50 people surrounding me.

I have done the loop from Glacier Gorge trailhead to Bear Lake trailhead and it's pretty nice. Not as scenic as another loop from the Bear Lake trailhead to the Fern Lake trailhead. That loop is a bit longer, but you go by at least 6 lakes, which are all beautiful! If you end at Fern Lake trailhead early enough, you can catch the shuttle bus back to your car.

My other recommendation would be to head to The Loch or Mills Lake from the Glacier Gorge trailhead. Both are beautiful lakes. If you've got time on your side and you're feeling up to more hiking, to can hike beyond either of those lakes to Timberline Falls (from The Loch) or Black Lake (from Mills Lake)

Lake Haiyaha from the Bear Lake trailhead is also really pretty. And Cub Lake is another option too. Really, the options are endless!

Kansas City...
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4. Re: Best Day Hike

If your athletic and the boys are into hiking, try sky pond (its about 5 miles one way) and passes some of the best places in the park (alberta falls, the loch, timberline falls, lake of glass).

What time of year are you going?

My favorite trail guide:


Arvada, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Boulder
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935 posts
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5. Re: Best Day Hike

Sky Pond is great - you have to scramble up by the waterfall towards the end.

Start EARLY though. You don't want to be caught out there during a storm. We got caught towards our decent down. Hail, even in the summer, is miserable.

Our son was little when we did that one, so your teens should have no problem.

Ypilson Lake is a longer hike that you might want to consider, even though it's pretty long. Very relaxing to have a picnic at the lake and when we did it years ago, marmots were running around every where.

Bridal Veil Falls is also a wonderful hike. Not a lot of parking at the trail head so you would want to get there really early.

San Francisco
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6. Re: Best Day Hike

Thanks for all the great suggestions. We'll be there the second week of June. I'm planning to do the hike on a Tuesday, crowds shouldn't be too much of a problem(?). I'm going to head towards sky pond and see how far we get. I know I'll make it, not sure about the boys. If it was a video game they'd beat me, but I have the advantage on this one. Thanks!

Grand Island...
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167 posts
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7. Re: Best Day Hike

Second week of June may be a little early for Sky Pond unless you're comfortable walking/climbing on snow. Snowmelt is a little earlier this year than last. Here's our trip report from the fifth of July last year: www.freewebs.com/lgibson/rmnp2008day8.htm

It was a great hike with some spectacular scenery, and a rush when we came down from the climb past the falls.

Here's a great forums site with LOTS of information: www.rmnpforums.com/forums/index.php…

You might try Gem Lake, the Cub Lake loop, Bear Lake to Emerald Lake, Bear Lake to the Fern Lake Trailhead either past Odessa Lake or past Bierstadt Lake. Definitely do Mills Lake or the Loch. These could be combined with a little backtracking.

The west side of the park has fewer crowds. The Colorado River Trail to Lulu City and Little Yellowstone Canyon is a pretty level trail after an initial short climb. The East Inlet is spectacular. Adams Falls is only .3 mile from the trailhead. Lone Pine Lake is about 5 miles from the trailhead, but the hiking isn't too bad. Both of those trails have good chances to see moose.

Details of our hikes are on our website.

8. Re: Best Day Hike

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