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10 Best Beginners Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Hiking is the perfect way to experience Rocky Mountain National Park. These beginner hikes in the park are sure to please, as they provide both great scenery and easy terrain. The trails listed below are under five miles round-trip and are considered fairly easy. No matter if you’re looking for a scenic lake or waterfall view, or simply want to experience Colorado’s dense forest, these popular hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park will definitely expose you to Colorado’s beauty.

Emerald Lake Emerald Lake
Credit: Emerald Lake by MiguelVieira via Flickr

Emerald Lake

For glorious views of a 12,000-foot mountain and to see three scenic lakes, head up to Emerald Lake from the Bear Lake Trailhead. This 3.5-mile roundtrip hike is a popular destination, so avoid crowds by hitting up this trail in the morning. Even if you don’t make it all the way to Emerald Lake, Bear Lake and Dream Lake make great scenic stops along the trail.

Alberta Falls Alberta Falls
Credit: Alberta Falls by Dave Dugdale via Flickr

Alberta Falls

Visit one of the most powerful waterfalls in Rocky Mountain by taking the beginner hike to Alberta Falls via the Glacier Gorge Trailhead. Enjoy the Aspen trees that line the trail, especially in the fall when the leaves change from green to yellow. Alberta Falls is a 30-foot waterfall that plunges down into the gorge. This hike is only 1.7 miles roundtrip. However you do have the option to hike further to Mills Lake or Loch Vale for a more moderate hike.

Lily Lake Lilly Lake
Credit: Lilly Lake by Bryce Bradford via Flickr

Lily Lake

Lily Lake is a lovely beginner hike that is perfect for the whole family. The trail, only a little over three-quarters of a mile round trip, offers incredible views of Rocky Mountain’s tallest mountains, Longs Peak and Mount Meeker. Expect flat terrain with a trail that skirts around Lily Lake. This spot is a great picnic area but also is a popular catch-and-release fishing destination.

Calypso Cascades Spring snowmelt floods Calypso Cascades in the Wild Basin in Spring, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Credit: Spring snowmelt floods Calypso Cascades in the Wild Basin in Spring, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado by © Colin Young | Dreamstime.com

Calypso Cascades

The hike to Calypso Cascades is a beginner hike that offers impressive views of a cascading waterfall. Now do keep in mind that the trailhead to this beginner hike is about 13 miles from Estes Park at the southeast corner of the park at the Wild Basin Trailhead. Roundtrip, the hike to Calypso Cascades is 3.6 miles. On the way to this impressive cascade, check out notable stops on the trail like Lower Copeland Falls and unnamed water, which shouldn’t be confused with your destination of Calypso Cascades.

Sprague Lake Sprague Lake
Credit: Sprague Lake by toddwendy via Flickr

Sprague Lake

For an incredible lake view that provides glimpses of Rocky Mountain’s highest peak, do the hike to Sprague Lake. This a great beginner hike because this easy trail is a gravel path that follows the shoreline of the lake; this hike is even stroller and wheelchair accessible. In total, this loop is only 0.9 miles but gives walkers a great taste of the impressive views that Rocky Mountain Park is known for.

Adams Falls Adams Falls
Credit: Adams Falls by inkknife_2000 via Flickr

Adams Falls

Adams Falls, a 55-foot waterfall, and the meadow that is a short walk after the falls is a must-see in Rocky Mountain National Park. The hike just to Adams Falls is only a 0.9-roundtrip hike, making it a manageable beginner hike. However, keep going for another mile to reach the incredible meadow that lies past the falls. Adams Falls is accessed through the East Inlet Trailhead near the town of Grand Lake, so the west side of the national park.

Cub Lake Cub Lake
Credit: Cub Lake by jesse via Flickr

Cub Lake

The hike to Cub Lake is a little longer than the other hikes on this list at 4.8 miles roundtrip, but it is still perfect for beginners who aren’t afraid of more mileage. Although this trail is beautiful year-round, it does offer incredible views of changing fall foliage during the autumn season because the trail passes through an aspen grove. Cub Lake is surrounded by a pine forest with a gorgeous view of Stones Peak, a 12,000-foot mountain.

Copeland Falls Copeland Falls
Credit: Copeland Falls by JBPhoton via Flickr

Copeland Falls

Copeland Falls is viewed while on the way to Calypso Cascades. If you simply want a quick and beautiful beginner hike, Copeland Falls is a great option. Lower Copeland Falls is only about a third of a mile from the Wild Basin Trailhead. However, take the short side trail to view Upper Copeland Falls. This short hike, which is only 0.9 miles round trip, is a pristine subalpine forest hike.

Ute Trail Ute Trail
Credit: Ute Trail by quinn.anya via Flickr

Ute Trail

This alpine trail offers some of the best views of Rocky Mountain’s tallest peaks. Now there are two sections of the Ute Trail in the park, and they are not connected. To access one of them, take the trail that begins at the Alpine Visitor Center. Or hike the other section by heading to the Ute Crossing Trailhead. The great thing about this beginner hike is that the entire trail is above the treeline. This easy trail allows hikers to enjoy alpine without having to do a strenuous hike.

Bierstadt Lake Bierstadt Lake
Credit: Bierstadt Lake by Ed Ogle via Flickr

Bierstadt Lake

Bierstadt Lake is a 3.2-mile roundtrip beginner hike that does offer some elevation gain within the first mile, so this hike is perfect for beginners who want a little challenge in a short distance. Once you reach the lake, walk along the lake loop trail. The other side of the lake offers incredible views of snowcapped mountains.

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