Hiking is one of the most rewarding activities that you can do in any national park, and especially in the Rockies. Whether you are a first time visitor to the park, or a veteran visitor looking to make the most of your trip, finding one (or more!) day hikes in the Rockies is almost certainly on your to-do list.
We have compiled a list of some of the most popular, most beautiful, and most enjoyable hikes in the Rockies, for hikers of all different backgrounds and experience levels. Hopefully, this list can help you find the right hike for you and your family.
Mt. Ida is claimed by many veteran visitors to be the best hike in the park. Visitors come from all over to experience the incredible panoramic views from the summit of the mountain, and to enjoy the challenge that the hike presents. The route itself has some rugged terrain, so don’t expect this hike to be a walk in the park. The pay off at the end, however, is absolutely worth the effort it takes to get there.
Hallett Peak is the perfect hike for someone who wants to summit a mountain, but without experiencing the danger or difficulty that some of the other peaks in the park present. You will reach an impressive altitude of 12,713 feet, so you will be able to see stunning views to rival some of the more difficult peaks. Plus, you did summit a mountain, so you absolutely get bragging rights.
This hike has a fork in the road, so to speak. Taking you up into the Rockies, you will be presented with a choice- will you summit one, two, or three mountains along this route? The highest peak of the three is Ypsilon Mountain, the fifth highest peak in the park. Each mountain is incredible in its own right, so while this may feel like a difficult choice, you won’t regret whichever you choose.
The Rockies also have incredible lakes, and Chasm Lake is one of the most beautiful in the park. The Lake itself is only the final destination, and the journey to it is just as beautiful as the final result. You will see panoramic views on the way up the mountain, and finally be presented with a gorgeous alpine lake at the end.
Emerald Lake is a highly diverse hike, that has four different subalpine lakes along its route. Bear Lake and Tyndall Glacier are both found along this route, and are definitely worth a visit. However, most people who take this route into the Tyndall Gorge are seeking Emerald Lake. This hike is definitely an endeavor to undertake, but the views and lakes that you come across are well worth a little effort.
The Ute Trail is a perfect choice for individuals who are looking for a flat hike that still boasts incredible views. This trail takes you along Tombstone Ridge, which goes through the alpine tundra zone. From this vantage point, you can see Forest Canyon, Longs Peak, Moraine Park, and Estes Park, all with little effort.
Sky Pond has been called a Rocky Mountain National Park classic. Not only will you see the incredible Sky Pond at the end of your hike, you will also see two waterfalls and two other lakes along the route. To reach Sky Pond itself, you will have to do a little climbing along Timberline Falls, so if you have a fear of heights, this may not be the best hike for you.
Bear Lake to Fern Lake Trailhead
This hike is perfect for someone who loves a hike one way, but wishes someone could carry them back down. The shuttle system in the park means that you can take a one way hike from Bear Lake to the Fern Lake Trailhead. This route has four lakes, a 60-foot waterfall, and other incredible views.
Lake Helene is a more isolated hike, due to the lack of signage on the trail heading to it. This is one of the most scenic lakes in the park, so it is definitely still worth a visit. Just be careful not to miss the trail!
The final entry in our top ten list is Bluebird Lake. Like a few other hikes on this list, half of the fun of this hike is in the journey, not just the destination. Along this route, you will see three spectacular waterfalls, before you make your way to the final destination. Bluebird Lake is, of course, gorgeous, making the destination every bit as good as the hike to get there.
Honorable Mentions: Keyhole, Lake Haiyaha, Black Lake, Deer Mountain