June 4, 2021

Best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park for beginners

If you are new to the hiking world and you find yourself in Rocky Mountain National Park while on vacation in Colorado, then this list is for you!

Before I get into the full list, here are a few things you should know before you begin your journey.

Download the Alltrails App

OMG Alltrials will help you out so much while you are hiking. I love this app because you can see reviews from people who have actually hiked the trails. It will also let you know the trial’s skill level. When you are starting out, I would highly recommend doing hikes that are rated “easy”.

Pack appropriately

There are a lot of great beginner hydration packs on Amazon. Having a hydration backpack is super beneficial so you can not only having a drinking source, but also you can store things in your pack for your journey!

Things that usually are in my day pack:

  • trail snacks
  • first aid kit
  • pocket knife
  • RTIC water bottle
  • DSLR camera (for pictures…duhh)
  • portable phone charger
  • sunscreen
  • extra socks

Once you have found out that you really like hiking, then I suggest shopping somewhere like REI for a pack. They have a lot of great options and they also have a used section where you can buy previously own backpacks!!

Use the buddy system

Try to also having a hiking buddy with you! If you are hiking alone, let someone know what trail you are using and your estimated time of when you will be done. Safety first!

Leave No Trace

This might be the most important tip of them all!! We only have one planet and it is our job to make sure she is properly cared for. Be sure to do the following when you are out exploring:

  • Plan ahead & prepare
  • Travel & camp on durable surfaces
  • Dispose of waste properly
  • Leave what you find
  • Minimize campfire impacts
  • Respect wildlife
  • Be considerate of other visitors

Now that I have covered some quick tips on preparation for your trip, here is the list of the best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park for beginners!

Moraine Park

Moraine Park has a few trailheads that you can take, but honestly I love it because you can drive right up to a parking spot and walk around. Moraine is one of the best places to see elk in Rocky Mountain National Park.

When we traveled there in the fall of 2020, you could see them all over the meadow grazing. I love the view that you get of the mountain range as you are walking down by the creek. If you are looking for a peaceful spot to have a lunch picnic, then Moraine is for you!

Sprague Lake

The Sprague Lake trail is a .8 mile loop walk around a gorgeous alpine lake. This has some beautiful views of the Rockies and if you are lucky, you will spot some pretty cool wildlife here as well. I legit saw a moose the last time we did this and holy crap those animals are huge.

Lily Lake

Lily Lake is actually outside of the main part of the park and it is located off of Highway 7 when you are traveling south from Estes Park.

This is another alpine lake loop trail that is just under a mile. This is a great trail to do when you just get into Estes Park. We did this walk in the morning and it was a perfect beginning to start our day.

Alberta Falls

This trailhead is just a little over 1.5 miles out and back. The elevation gain is only like 200ft so this is a great one to prep you for a more challenging hike later in your trip. Also if you are not acclimated to the elevation in CO yet, then this will help with that as well (in my opinion).

The view of the falls itself was a great change of scenery during our visit to the park. I loved how close you could get to the water when you finally reached the top!

Bear Lake/Nymph Lake/Dream Lake

This is like a BOGO deal for hiking!

Bear Lake is your starting point. This is probably the most popular trail in the whole park, so be prepared for the traffic.

The Bear Lake portion of the trail is a .7 mile loop around. This is very flat so there isn’t much elevation gain. Once you have ventured around Bear lake, start hiking up towards Nymph.

Nymph Lake is about a 1.2 mile hike from Bear lake. The elevation gain is almost 300ft, so be prepared to take some frequent stops if you are finding yourself out of breath. On your way up, you will find some great stopping points for some gorgeous views of the park.

Take a little break and then it’s about .8 miles up to Dream Lake (aka my favorite spot in the whole park). Be prepared to go up in elevation right here!

Dream Lake…. what a view

I have hiked this twice now, and I must say, It gets prettier every single time. We have found it to be one of the most peaceful places and a great spot for a trail snack!

Trail Ridge Road

This road is your last stop on your visit to Rocky Mountain National Park. You will get some breathtaking views of the mountain peaks and if you are lucky, you will spot some wildlife up here as well.

When you reach the Alpine Visitor Center you can take a staircase up to an even higher point on the road! Stop in the gift shop and grab you a hot chocolate and a souvenir!

There you have it! A full list of the Best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park for beginners.