There is so much more to it than Bear Lake and Trail Ridge Road. Even with the number of people in the park, if you spend just a couple extra hours on the trail, the crowds thin out quickly and you fell you have the trail to yourself.
October 4, 2015 ~ The hike to Gourd Lake turned out to be the last hike of the season. It's a good length hike, coming in around 17 miles roundtrip. The printed and online maps have a common error on them; or at least they did when I planned this hike. The maps show what looks like a quick cutoff to the left then pretty much vertical to Gourd Lake - that is not correct. That cutoff has been blocked off. The cutoff is a bit further up the trail with a very new trail sign. Once you get there that's when you make your left, then the trail zigzags up the side of the mountain.
September 26, 2015 ~ The hike to Stone Lake and Upper Lake is somewhat challenging, not technically, just a bit steep in places. I got a late start on this hike, as such I finished this hike after dark and being in September sunset comes earlier. Overall, it was a beautiful day with clear skies and very light breeze.
September 19, 2015 ~ The hike to Pawnee Pass is a pretty hike up to tree line as the Indian Peaks are in full view for most of the hike. Once above treeline the wind begins to pick up and is quite strong; I clocked the winds at Pawnee pass at 40 miles per hour - that's noticeable. The weather was great, a light breeze before treeline and a big blue sky all day. The original plan was go make it to Pawnee Lake, but the I ran out of time on this hike. It could have been done if it was a multi-day hike.
September 12, 2015 ~ The hike to Lion Lake #1 was a great hike, the weather was perfect with big blue skies. The hike is a mix of moving quickly through a valley floor and then on to more challenging terrain to get to Lion Lake #1. I was not able to make it to Lion Lake #2 as the trail, even with the GPS was getting too fuzzy. Would love to go back and make it to Lion Lake #2.
August 29, 2015 ~ The hike to King Lake, Betty Lake & Bob Lake and a beautiful hike, you could not have asked for better weather with a big blue sky. The hike comes in just over 10 miles round-trip. There are a couple of different access points to these lakes - either from Eldora or from Fraser, as such there are a number of people at the lower lakes, mostly fishing. Most of them are there to fish. Even with the number of people you still get the feeling of having the trail to yourself. It's simply a beautiful trail and a beautiful group of high alpine lakes.
August 22, 2015 ~ The hike to Haynach Lakes is just short of 17 miles round-trip. It's not terribly difficult, just long as much of the trail skirts a valley floor. The final pitch to the Haynach Lakes is the most challenging leg of the trail. This is Moose country, they tend to either be in the lush valley meadows or just in front of you - crossing the trail to get to the valley meadows.
August 14, 2015 ~ The hike to Spirit Lake is long, just over 15 miles round-trip; however, the most difficult leg of the trail is to Lone Pine Lake, from there on to Spirit Lake it's quick as it moves along a gentle sloping valley floor. The weather was a mix of clear skies and overcast. When I arrived at Spirit Lake it was a bit overcast, though there was nobody there that I could see.
August 8, 2015 ~ The hike to Sand Beach Lake - for me went quickly. Based on the number of pictures I took, I believe the majority of the hike is dense canopy with low light. It was an overcast day with a large wave cloud hanging over the trail all day. It's an interesting lake, the name Sand Beach Lake is very befitting of it. There were several people there that had camped overnight, so it's a somewhat popular destination. After the majority of people cleared out it is a peaceful lake. Wish I had better weather.
July 26, 2015 ~ Lawn Lake and Crystal Lake is one of my favorite hikes in RMNP, the lake and the surrounding mountains are stunning and eminently peaceful. The hike comes in just over 12.5 miles. There are portions of the trail that are receding and climbing backing to the woods due to flood damage. When I got to Crystal Lake, it was a little overcast, and a light breeze. I remember thinking, that if I was camping here, I would love to take a nap here along the edge of Crystal Lake - someday maybe.
July 18, 2015 ~ The hike to Bluebird Lake is surprisingly quick for a little more than 12.5 miles roundtrip. It was a great day, mostly sunny with some clouds racing by. The valley views are spectacular and there is a portion of the trail where you are on a ridge off to the side of the valley, the views are amazing.
July 11, 2015 ~ Parika Lake is a high alpine lake with lush green ground cover around this little gem. The trail moves quickly, moving between beetle kill and aspens. Once at tree-line the forest becomes very healthy and everything is a lush green. This is a great time of the year for a hike. The wildflowers are in full bloom and the weather was great. Parika Lake is a lone little gem above the tree-line.
July 4, 2015 ~ The hike to Lone Pine Lake is an interesting hike. It starts on the Grand Lake side of the park and fairly soon a wide lush valley floor opens up with a large slow moving - meandering oxbow river, on a clear day its breathtaking. The trail to Lone Pine Lake is a good distance, just under eleven miles round trip, and is the first stop on a larger hike to Lake Verna and Spirit Lake.
July 2, 2015 ~ The trail to Spruce Lake is a very nice afternoon hike, it clocks in just over 9 miles roundtrip. The weather fluctuated between clear blue skies and partly cloudy. By the time I made it to the lake it was beginning to become overcast. It's a peaceful lake and seems deceptively long. This is one of the hikes I remembered to take a picture of my hiking companion - it's in the last picture.
June 21, 2015 ~ The hike to Jasper Lake was a mixed bag, the Spring Runoff was in full swing and there was still snow on the trail and at Jasper Lake. The weather was fluctuating between bright sunny clear skies and storm clouds that looked like they could either dump rain or snow or both. Luckily, neither happened, just overcast from time to time.
June 13, 2015 ~ The hike along Hell's Hole Trail proved to be the calendar point-in-time when the hiking season can officially start - that being mid-to-late June. I'm able to get further into the mountains without snowshoes. There is still some snow left at this time of year; Spring is starting to pop, it was a beautiful sunny day.
May 2, 2015 ~ Twin Owls Loop is a short hike, and was an attempt to get a jump on the hiking season, not knowing how much snow was left. This is a lower elevation hike in RMNP so there wasn't much snow left, but you could see on the high peaks there was plenty of snow left. I was clearly chomping at the bit to get the 2015 hiking season started.
April 25, 2015 ~ The hike to Deer Mountain was an attempt at starting the hiking season early. I knew there would be snow, and there would be snow, but I wanted to see if starting that early was something for me; as it turns out it is not. I'm not a big fan of hiking-snowshoeing, it's just not my thing. For the type of hiking I do April is too early to start the season.