Hike the majestic beauty in Colorado’s breathtaking landscapes of Rocky Mountain National Park
This July, Timberline Adventures will embark on one of our favorite trips of the year; our Rocky Mountain National Park six-day hiking tour, where we take guests exploring all over Rocky Mountain National Park. The peaks and valleys are stunning and we can always anticipate an abundance of wildlife.
Wild Basin Area
After our shuttle to Wild Basin (the southernmost trailhead in the National Park), we’ll have a warm-up hike to beautiful Calypso Cascades and nearby Ouzel Falls.
We’ll make a loop hike by returning on the little-used North St. Vrain Trail (6 miles). Wildlife abounds on this quiet trail. There are more locals here than tourists, as the trailhead is away from the congested areas of Estes Park. Our destination is Ouzel Falls, along Ouzel Creek, both named for the tiny Ouzel dipper bird that frequents the area. The sturdy bridge crossing the creek gives this wilderness waterfall a beautiful vantage point (and cooling mist) as it cascades down among rocks and fallen logs, rushing towards the valley below.
On the second day, starting from Bear Lake, the poster child lake of the park at an elevation of 9,500 feet, we’ll climb up over a rib of Flattop Mountain and into the Fern Creek valley. Although both ends of this trail are popular areas, few people make it to the middle of the trail to witness the multitude of waterfalls plunging from the peaks of Notchtop, Knobtop, and Little Matterhorn. The view from Lake Helene, nestled in a glacier-carved depression through the steep-walled gorge, is breathtaking. You are almost guaranteed to see herds of elk in this valley!
Reflections of the looming peaks in the area demand an obligatory photo stop. After this respite, we continued to descend along Fern Creek, past Fern Lake, Marguerite Falls, Fern Falls, and The Pool before reaching the lower trailhead.
Sky Pond – Alberta Falls
The next day will bring another alpine lake destination – Sky Pond (aptly named). This trail starts at the popular Glacier Gorge trailhead and follows Glacier Creek up the valley. The photogenic Alberta Falls is just a short way up the trail, and beyond that, the crowds thin considerably. We continue up the glaciated valley to Loch Vale (Lake of the Valley). Above this, the climbing really begins until we reached the first headwall. Timberline Falls spills out from the lakes above, shrouding the area in mist. A bit of a scramble beside these falls will bring us to Lake of Glass. The beauty of the reflective waters is enticing, but the trail calls and we’ll reach our destination – incredibly beautiful Sky Pond, nestled in the shadow of Powell and Taylor peaks. From this water-filled cirque, the mountains meet the sky, the seasons meld together with the ever-present snow and sun, and you can truly set free your cares in this ethereal world.
Grand Lake – Trail Ridge Road
On our fourth day, we will venture to the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park. A gently meandering trail past some of the most photographed lakes in the park. Our route starts at the Bear Lake trailhead and goes past a quick succession of alpine lakes: Bear, Nymph, Dream, Emerald and Lake Haiyaha. We have stupendous views of the snow-topped
towering peaks above us along the route. Our shorter hike will give us time to enjoy the van transfer which takes us up over stunning Trail Ridge road “highway to the sky” – the highest continuously paved road in the country. We’ll be above treeline for much of the drive, topping out at 12,183 ft. right near the Alpine Visitor Center. At this elevation, we could experience winter in August! We then descend on the western side to Grand Lake for our first of two nights.
Grand Lake – East Inlet Trail
We’ll challenge the East Inlet Trail that rises above Grand Lake on day five. Early into the hike, we’ll visit popular Adams Falls, then skirt the large, flat valley of East Inlet Creek where moose abound, before climbing to serene Lone Pine Lake, our turnaround point for this day (10 miles). Absolutely gorgeous views of the surrounding mountain peaks; this is an incredible journey!
Ute Trail – Trail Ridge Road
For one last blissful morning, we’ll enjoy the heights of Rocky Mountain National Park. One final visit to the park’s vast alpine world above the treeline. We’ll hike from Poudre’s lakeshore through the fascinating rock spires and hanging gardens above the lake. This day requires a drive back over Trail Ridge Road. By car, we will climb up through the three life zones of the park: the montane zone including the pine and aspen forests and meadows in the Kawuneeche Valley, where deer, elk, moose, beaver, coyote, and countless squirrels and birds abound; the subalpine zone where the evergreen trees start to thin and the wildflowers flourish, attracting some of the hardier, smaller animals; and up to the alpine zone where gnarled trees disappear altogether and tundra grasses and delicate wildflowers hide between patches of snow. Following lunch in Estes Park, we’ll return to Denver.