Colorado Hiking with Kids

Favorite Family Hikes in Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park

LuLu City
LuLu City
3.7 miles
Elev. Gain 350 ft
moderate
Trailhead
Horse Trail

Follows a gentle grade to the site of the old 1880's gold mining camp of Lulu City. Not much remains now, but this historic area is written up in a trail booklet available at visitor centers for a nominal price. Keep an eye out for moose. Makes a gentle ski tour in the winter.

Coyote Valley
Coyote Valley
1 miles
Elev. Gain 0 ft
easy
Trailhead

Kawuneeche, the Arapaho word for coyote, was the name given to this gentle valley of the Upper Colorado River. he trail follows the bank of the Colorado River with views of the Never Summer Mountains. Look for moose (especially during the early morning and early evening hours), songbirds and wildflowers. Features educational exhibits along the trail. Accessible. Strollers permitted. Picnic tables. In the winter, an easy choice to test those skis or snowshoes.

Adams Falls
Adams Falls
0.3 miles
Elev. Gain 79 ft
easy
Trailhead

The most popular walk in the Grand Lakes region - a short and easy stroll thru aspen and lodgepole pine forest, passing beautiful out-croppings of grey-black rock and river scenery. Watch for an early morning rainbow shining through the falls spray.  More on Adams Falls trail...

Valley Trail
Valley Trail
5.5 miles
Elev. Gain -192 ft
easy
Trailhead

Easy loop through the Kawuneechee Valley.

Lake Irene
Lake Irene
0.5 miles
Elev. Gain 0 ft
easy
Trailhead
Picnic Area

The Lake Irene area allows visitors access to a close-in picnic and scenic recreation area as they traverse Trail Ridge Road. There's a trail to an overlook past Lake Irene, eight picnic sites (three are accessible for people with disabilities).  More on Lake Irene trail...

Ute Trail
Ute Trail
6 miles
Elev. Gain ft
moderate
Trailhead

From Ute Crossing mostly downhill to Upper Beaver Meadows. Coordinate with friends to leave a car at Upper Beaver Meadows and start the trail at Ute Crossing. Starts on the tundra, goes through forest to meadow. 1 backcountry site.

Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls
3.2 miles
Elev. Gain 1060 ft
moderate
Trailhead

An attractive day hike past McGraw Ranch up a lightly forested valley, following a stream to a pretty waterfall.  More on Bridal Veil Falls trail...

Alluvial Fan
Alluvial Fan
0.15 miles
Elev. Gain 20 ft
easy
Trailhead
Picnic Area
Fishing Access

Two parking areas and picnic areas bookend the Alluvial Fan trail that takes you to a bridge over the river and good viewing point of the effects of the Lawn Lake Flood. Read more on More on Alluvial Fan trail...

Gem Lake
Gem Lake
1.8 miles
Elev. Gain 910 ft
easy
Trailhead
Horse Trail

The shallow waters of Gem Lake are cradled high among the rounded granite domes of Lumpy Ridge. Untouched by glaciation, this outcrop of 1.8 billion-year-old granite has been sculpted by wind and chemical erosion into a backbone-like ridge. Pillars, potholes, and balanced rocks appear midway along the trail. Spectacular views of the Estes Valley and Continental Divide. Gem Lake's elevation is 8,800 feet.  More on Gem Lake trail...

Bear Lake Loop
Bear Lake Loop
0.6 miles
Elev. Gain 20 ft

An easy walk around a high-mountain lake with peak views. Tucked into the spruce/fir forest at the base of Hallett Peak and Flattop Mountain, this 0.6-mile loop is one of Rocky's most famous trails. Unlike other trails listed as accessible by the Park, Bear Lake is not entirely flat and is a more challenging route. As a wedding site it accommodates 2-35 people.  More on the Bear Lake trail...

Bierstadt Lake
Bierstadt Lake
1.6 miles
Elev. Gain 255 ft

From Bear Lake, a level walk through forest, with Continental Divide views. More climb if you start from the Bierstadt Lake trailhead. Iconic trail to see fall Aspen gold.  Trail from the Glacier Basin Park and Ride lot also joins the Bierstadt Lake trail.  More on Bierstadt Lake trail...

Dream Lake
Dream Lake
1.1 miles
Elev. Gain 425 ft

In summer this is a great easy family hike. In the winter this is a good snowshoe tour to one of the most photographed lakes in the park.   You'll pass Nymph Lake on the way.  More on Dream Lake trail...

Emerald Lake
Emerald Lake
1.8 miles
Elev. Gain 685 ft

The trail to Emerald Lake passes Nymph Lake and the north shore of Dream Lake. Below the saddle between Hallett Peak and Flattop Mountain at 10,080 ft, the mountains rise steeply from the shore. Most popular destination in Bear Lake area. Start early!  More on Emerald Lake trail...

Nymph Lake
Nymph Lake
0.5 miles
Elev. Gain 225 ft

A beautiful yellow lily named Nymphaea polysepala makes its home on the deep blue waters of Nymph Lake. Breathtaking views of Longs Peak and Hallett Peak.  Continue on - it's not much further to beautiful Dream Lake!  More on Nymph Lake trail...

Cub Lake
Cub Lake
2.3 miles
Elev. Gain 540 ft

A favorite hike offering river scenery, flowery meadows, stands of pine and aspen, and a serenely beautiful lake backed by mountains. Joins the Fern Lake trail at The Pool. 1 backcountry site.  More on Cub Lake trail...

Alberta Falls
Alberta Falls
0.6 miles
Elev. Gain 160 ft

Delightful! Alberta Falls is one of the most impressive falls in the park and along the trail you see beautiful Glacier Creek and walk along the rim of Glacier Gorge. The falls thunder and tumble down the narrow canyon. The trail continues on to famous lakes - Mills, Haiyaha, and The Loch. More on Alberta Falls trail...

Mill Creek Basin
Mill Creek Basin
1.6 miles
Elev. Gain 600 ft
easy
Trailhead

The Mill Creek Basin trail follows Mill Creek to a brush and wildflower filled meadow where you can often see hawks hunting. You'll see lodgepole pines and aspens along the banks and views of beaver works. 2 backcountry sites.

Sprague Lake
Sprague Lake
1 miles
Elev. Gain 10 ft
easy
Trailhead
Fishing Access

A popular stop on a drive up Bear Lake Road with a picnic area and beautiful views of the Continental Divide.  There is an easy and accessible half-mile-long trail around the lake with a fishing pier. An accessible backcountry camping site is located in the area. A good place for a short winter walk, or to try those crosscountry skis on a frozen lake. Good views of the Continental Divide. More on Sprague Lake trail...

Lily Mountain
Lily Mountain
1.5 miles
Elev. Gain 1006 ft
easy
Trailhead

Great trek for first time climbers and youth. Steady altitude gain and wide path. NFS trail with the last 100 feet to the summit a scramble up a granite ravine to a panoramic view.

Allenspark Trailhead — Region 5 - South side, known for waterfalls & backcountry

Southern-most trailhead along Hwy 7.  Joins Finch Lake trails.  Parking area is too small for horse trailers - park on the east side of the road.

Horse Trails
Alpine Visitor Center Trailhead — Region 2 - Alpine, known for spectacular vistas

Near the top of Trail Ridge Road (Hwy 34) at the Alpine Visitor Center. Trailheads are located on the East side of Trail Ridge Road, across from the Visitor Center, and from the parking lot.

Ranger Station
Bear Lake Trailhead — Region 4 - Heart of the Park, known for easy access & great views

At the end of Bear Lake Road, 9.5 miles from the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center.  During summer Bear Lake Road Construction, Shuttle Bus is highly recommended.  Although the parking lot at the trailhead is large, it fills up early in the day during summer.  Elevation: 9.475 ft.

Ranger Station
Picnic Area
Shuttle Bus Stop
Fishing Access
Bierstadt Lake — Region 4 - Heart of the Park, known for easy access & great views

Along Bear Lake Road after Sprague Lake, across from the Storm Pass trailhead.

Shuttle Bus Stop
Bowen/Baker Trailhead — Region 1 - West Side, known for moose & big meadows

About 6.5 miles north(east) of the Grand Lake entrance on Highway 34.

Picnic Area
Fishing Access
Chapin Pass Trailhead — Region 2 - Alpine, known for spectacular vistas

Near the top of Old Fall River Road. About 6.5 miles from Endovalley on the right side (open only in summer, limited parking).  Access to 2 backcountry sites.

Colorado River Trailhead — Region 1 - West Side, known for moose & big meadows

On the west side of Trail Ridge Road across from the Timber Lake Trailhead, about 9.6 mi north (east) of Grand Lake Entrance Station.  Hwy 34 closes here in winter.  Access to 9 backcountry sites.

Picnic Area
Fishing Access
Horse Trails
Cow Creek Trailhead — Region 3 - North side, known for wilderness escape

Cow Creek trailhead is near the historic McGraw Ranch, at the end of McGraw Ranch Road, which can be found north of Estes Park off Devils Gulch Road (Limited parking). R off US34 on MacGregor Ave. 3.5 mi. then L on McGraw Ranch Rd. 2.5 mi. to end. Access to 12 backcountry sites along the northern boundary of the Park, and 2 closer in along the Cow Creek trail.

Coyote Valley — Region 1 - West Side, known for moose & big meadows

South of Bowen/Baker and north of Onahu Creek trailheads on Hwy 34, about 5.6 mi. north(east) of the Grand Lake Entrance Station.

Cub Lake Trailhead — Region 4 - Heart of the Park, known for easy access & great views

From Bear Lake Road, turn R toward Moraine Park Campground; after .7 mi. turn L and follow signs to Cub Lake Trailhead .  Access to 1 backcountry site.

Shuttle Bus Stop
Horse Trails
Deer Ridge Trailhead — Region 3 - North side, known for wilderness escape

From Park Headquarters at Beaver Meadows, drive 4.5 miles on Highway 36 to roadside parking on the R at the Deer Ridge Trailhead, just before Junction with Highway 34. 

East Inlet Trailhead — Region 1 - West Side, known for moose & big meadows

Located at the east end of Grand Lake.  From Highway 34, head east on 278 towards Grand Lake for .3 mile, bearing left at all forks until you reach the East Inlet trailhead parking lot.  Access to 8 backcountry sites.

Fishing Access
Horse Trails
East Portal Trailhead — Region 4 - Heart of the Park, known for easy access & great views

Follow Highway 66 past the YMCA about 1 mi. to its end at East Portal.  Park in the small day use parking area about 100 yds before the road ends.  Access to 3 backcountry sites.  Easy turn-around for horse trailers, with space for 1-2 trailers.

Horse Trails
East Shore Trailhead — Region 1 - West Side, known for moose & big meadows

West of Grand Lake, L onto CO 66. After 1 mi., L into the campground.  Drive toward the lake and turn right into the next campground and park at the Shadow Mountain Dam. 

Picnic Area
Fishing Access
Horse Trails
Fern Lake Tailhead — Region 4 - Heart of the Park, known for easy access & great views

From Bear Lake Road, turn right toward Moraine Park Campground, then left after .7 mi. to the end of the road at Fern Lake parking.  Access to 6 backcountry sites.

Fishing Access
Finch Lake Trailhead — Region 5 - South side, known for waterfalls & backcountry

About 1,000 feet east of the bridge that crosses North St. Vrain Creek to Wild Basin Ranger Station. Wild Basin is about 12.5 miles south of Estes Park on Highway 7.  Access to 5 backcountry sites.

Glacier Gorge Trailhead — Region 4 - Heart of the Park, known for easy access & great views

Less than 1 mile before Bear Lake along Bear Lake Road. SMALL parking lot. Shuttle bus is highly recommended in summer.  Access to 2 backcountry sites.

Shuttle Bus Stop
Fishing Access
Green Mountain Trailhead — Region 1 - West Side, known for moose & big meadows

Located on the west side of the park on US 34, 2.8 mi. north (east) of the Grand Lake Entrance Station.  Northern access to the Continental Divide trail loop through the Park,

Horse Trails
Hollowell Park Trailhead — Region 1 - West Side, known for moose & big meadows

R at Hollowell Park turn-off, about 3.5 miles south on Bear Lake Road.  Shuttle Bus recommended. Access to 2 backcountry sites.  Parking is challenging for horse trailers.

Picnic Area
Shuttle Bus Stop
Horse Trails
Kawuneeche Trailhead — Region 1 - West Side, known for moose & big meadows

Located on the west side of the park on US 34,  Kawuneeche Visitor Center.

Ranger Station
Picnic Area
Lake Estes Trailhead — Region 3 - in Estes Park

Join the Lake Estes trail and the Downtown Riverwalk trail from behind the Visitor Center on Big Thompson Avenue.

Shuttle Bus Stop
Lawn Lake Trailhead — Region 3 - North side, known for wilderness escape

About .5 mile north of Highway 34 past the Endovalley picnic area along Old Fall River Road.  Access to 5 backcountry sites.

Lily Lake Trailhead — Region 5 - South side, known for waterfalls & backcountry

Six miles south of the town of Estes Park on Highway 7, past Mary's Lake.

Ranger Station
Picnic Area
Fishing Access
Longs Peak Trailhead — Region 5 - South side, known for waterfalls & backcountry

At Longs Peak Ranger Station, 7.5 miles south of Estes Park on Highway 7.  Access to 4 backcountry sites.

Ranger Station
Lumpy Ridge Trailhead — Region 3 - North side, known for wilderness escape

Drive north from downtown Estes Park on MacGregor Avenue. Cross Hwy. 34 bypass and continue on  MacGregor Avenue  past MacGregor Ranch to the trailhead parking lot on the left.  Access to 4 backcountry sites along Black Canyon trail.  Designated horse trailer parking spot for 2 trailers with easy pull-around. 

Horse Trails
Milner Pass Trailhead — Region 2 - Alpine, known for spectacular vistas

On Trail Ridge Road at the Continental Divide west of the Alpine Visitor Center and 16 mi. east of the Grand Lake Entrance Station.

North Inlet Trailhead — Region 1 - West Side, known for moose & big meadows

Drive east from Highway 34 on 278 towards Grand Lake, bearing left at the forks until you reach the parking lot. Trailhead at E. end of parking lot. Tonahutu accesses 4 backcountry sites before the Green Mountain trail; North Inlet and southern part of Continental Divide trail loop through the Park accesses 13 backcountry sites.

Horse Trails
Onahu Trailhead — Region 1 - West Side, known for moose & big meadows

Located on the west side of the park on US 34, .5 mile north(east) of the Green Mountain trailhead. Access to 3 backcountry sites.

Rock Cut Trailhead — Region 2 - Alpine, known for spectacular vistas

At the Continental Divide coming up Trail Ridge Road from Estes Park, before the Alpine Visitor Center.

Sandbeach — Region 5 - South side, known for waterfalls & backcountry

12.5 mi. south of Estes Park on Highway 7, R at Wild Basin Road.  Immediately to the R of the Ranger Station Kiosk.  Access to 5 backcountry sites.

Sprague Lake Trailhead — Region 4 - Heart of the Park, known for easy access & great views

On the south side of Bear Lake Road.  Shuttle Bus recommended.

Picnic Area
Shuttle Bus Stop
Fishing Access
Storm Pass Trailhead — Region 4 - Heart of the Park, known for easy access & great views

After Sprague Lake, on the south side of Bear Lake Road across from Bierstadt Lake trailhead.  Access to 2 backcountry sites along the Boulder Brook trail.

Timber Lake Trailhead — Region 1 - West Side, known for moose & big meadows

Grand Lake (west side) of the Park.  Trailhead is located on the east side of Hwy 34 across from the Colorado River trailhead.  Access to 4 backcountry sites.

Picnic Area
Horse Trails
Tonahutu Trailhead — Region 1 - West Side, known for moose & big meadows

Same as North Inlet Trailhead. 

Twin Sisters Trailhead — Region 5 - South side, known for waterfalls & backcountry

Across Highway 7 from Lily Lake.

Upper Beaver Meadows Trailhead — Region 4 - Heart of the Park, known for easy access & great views

From the Beaver Meadows entrance, pass Bear Lake Road and continue along Hwy 36 until just before the junction with Hwy 34. Left onto dirt road.  Go about 2 mi. to road end.

Horse Trails
Ute Crossing Trailhead — Region 2 - Alpine, known for spectacular vistas

At Fall River Pass along the east side of Trail Ridge Road about 2 mi. below Rock Cut. Limited parking.  Access to 1 backcountry site.

Wild Basin Trailhead — Region 5 - South side, known for waterfalls & backcountry

12.5 mi. south of Estes Park on Highway 7, right at Wild Basin Road.  Take right fork to Entrance station, then 3 mi. to Ranger Station.  Access to 6 backcountry sites.  2 Horse Trailer parking spaces.

Ranger Station
Horse Trails

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