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If you only had 1 day to hike in RMNP, which trail?

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Naples, FL
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53 posts
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If you only had 1 day to hike in RMNP, which trail?

We will have one full day in RMNP to hike. The next day we'll be driving across the park to Grand Lake, so we'll find some places along the way to hike along Trail Ridge Rd.

We are a family of 4 (average physical shape) and could probably handle a 3-4 mile hike at most.

I've read some other websites about their descriptions but would love to hear your votes.

Thanks!

dallas, texas
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1. Re: If you only had 1 day to hike in RMNP, which trail?

I would vote for Hiking Bear Lake up to Nymph Lake, up to Dream Lake and then up to Emerald Lake - it was absolutely beautiful when we did it. The payoffs along the way are wonderful - lots of waterfalls, vistas, and lake scenes are breathtakingly beautiful. Then when you came back down, if you wanted, you could still have time to hike Alberta Falls (same general area of park along Bear Lake Road). I think it is only about a 2 mile hike up to Emerald Lake.

California
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2. Re: If you only had 1 day to hike in RMNP, which trail?

I was looking for similar hikes when I went a few weeks ago. Check the miles on these, some may be a bit long, but the Bear Lake/Dream Lake/Emerald Lake hike was incredible, I think it was around that length, all uphill but not awful. Go at least to Dream Lake, I thought it was even nicer than Emerald. The trail is very crowded, I'd leave early for everything you are doing to beat the crowds. Mills lake was beautiful but 6 miles round trip. I didn't get to Bierstadt Lake but I think that may be under 5 miles and was also recommended as a nice hike. Sprague lake is a nice very short flat hike in the same area. We went to the short hike to Adams Falls on the west side, I didn't really think much of it and it was very crowded when we got there. Someone told us after we came back that Colorado River trail is great for big horn sheep. Look for Moose in the area of the Beaver Ponds Picnic area on the west side we saw a moose about a mile away from there near the road. If you have the ability I would absolutely climb the half mile(uphill) short hikes at Rock Cut and Alpine visitor center when you do the Trailridge Drive, they are great. Have fun, it's all incredible.

Loveland, Colorado
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3. Re: If you only had 1 day to hike in RMNP, which trail?

The hike to Emerald Lake is quite nice. It is, however the most popular trail in the park. If you are going on a weekend, it is almost unbearable with all the people. I found that it made the hike not that fun. We got to Emerald Lake and there were a million other people there. I like hikes with less people because it is more scerene.

Here are my suggestions other than Emerald Lake:

1-Fern Falls from the Fern Lake Trailhead. Easy hike and the falls are beautiful. It is a less populated Trailhead, so it is not as crowded. It is 2.5 miles in, 5 miles round trip.

2-Cub Lake from the Cub Lake Trailhead. Another easy hike to a beautiful lake. It is a but more used by people, but not as bad as the Bear Lake Trailhead. A little under 2.5 miles in and 5 miles round trip

3-Lake Hiayaha from the Bear Lake Trailhead. This is one of my favorite hikes in the Park. Once you get past Nymph Lake, the people die down and it is a relatively quiet trail. It is a bit harder that Emerald and Fern, but nothing too steep.Lake Hiayaha is beautiful and is surrounded by huge steep cliffs. There are tons of large flat rock surrounding the lake, which are great for stopping for lunch. It's 2 miles in and 4 round trip.

4-The Loch or Mills Lake from the Glacier Gorge Trailhead. This is the next most popular trailhead after Bear Lake, so there are quite a few people on the trail. Most of them however, just hike to Alberta Falls, which is .6 miles in and then they turn around. Both The Loch and Mills Lake are beautiful! They are both easy hikes and about the same length(2.5 miles in). After about 1.5 miles, the trail splits. The Loch trails head off to the right and Mills is to the left. Either is a good destination. I have found Mills to be more crowded than The Loch.

Hope this helps! No matter what you choose, you will have a wonderful hike!

Chicago, Illinois
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4. Re: If you only had 1 day to hike in RMNP, which trail?

Glacier Gorge to Black lake, takes all day (for me anyway) but after Mills lake you have the trail to yourself.

Naples, FL
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5. Re: If you only had 1 day to hike in RMNP, which trail?

Thank you for your awesome descriptions and advice. I can't wait to get there!

Charlotte, North...
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6. Re: If you only had 1 day to hike in RMNP, which trail?

If you were up to doing a little more than 3-4 miles, I think your best choice would be to combine The Loch and Mills Lake into one hike. However, if you want to stay within those limits, go with Emerald Lake. There are so many incredible hikes in RMNP, but those are the two best options IMO if you are limited on time.

Here are my shots from RMNP...let me know if you have any questions about anything you see.

…photobucket.com/albums/…

Sean

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Destination Expert
for Santa Fe, Mesa Verde National Park, Boulder, New Mexico
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7. Re: If you only had 1 day to hike in RMNP, which trail?

Last year we were with my mom, and just did the trail around Bear Lake.

This year, I'm going with my kid and we are camping 1 night at Moraine Park. We plan on the Cub Lake trail, as he needs to do a 5 mile orienteering hike for Boy Scouts.

Kansas
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228 posts
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8. Re: If you only had 1 day to hike in RMNP, which trail?

There is a LOT of the park we haven't seen, but from what we have seen, I would say go with Bear/Nymph/Dream/Emerald Lakes, and I would go very early to miss the crowds. The scenery on this trail is phenomenal. If you are more adventurous, you can get off the heavily used trails and gain some solitude, but it generally is going to take you further into the mountains. I would add, though, that I am nowhere near being in shape, and I had little problem with a long hike from Bear Lake TH.

Effingham, Illinois
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9. Re: If you only had 1 day to hike in RMNP, which trail?

I will also cosign the posts recommending the Bear/Dream/Nymph/Emerald lakes. I did that hike about 4 years ago and it was great. I've also done a few other hikes that I don't recall at the moment. I'd have to look up some trail maps to spur my memory.

I think we are heading to RMNP in September, but unfortunately I think my hiking will be limited as we'll have my 3 year old with us.

St. Louis, MO
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10. Re: If you only had 1 day to hike in RMNP, which trail?

Another vote for Bear Lake / Nymph Lake / Dream Lake / Emerald Lake // It's a wonderful family hike (my favorite). The Bear Lake area is so beautiful. We make sure to do this hike everytime we're in the area. It's a good one for the whole family. We usually hike with a multigeneration group including children and active seniors.