Last week we headed to Colorado to celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary, because what could be more romantic than bringing a one-and-a-half year old hiking? Well, maybe it wasn’t the most romantic trip we’ve been on, but I couldn’t think of a prettier place to celebrate than Rocky Mountain National Park.
Spring Weather Conditions in Rocky Mountains
When we plan hikes with our little one, the first thing we think about is the weather conditions. The Bear Lake area currently has 40 inches of snow. We wanted to stay in lower elevation, so we decided to check out the Cub Lake trail which is in the majestic Moraine Valley. We were lucky to arrive on a sunny day, but melting snow made the trail muddy in places and we went through a few snow patches.
Hiking Gear for Kids
It’s amazing how fast Cecy is growing. We are planning to replace her beloved baby carrier for a sturdier kid carrier soon, but for this trip we rented one at the Warming House in Estes Park for $10 per day. This carrier is similar.
I bought trekking poles which helped keep our balance in the snow and took some of the impact off our knees and back. I was also very thankful for my waterproof hiking boots! These hiking boots are similar.
The Cub Lake trail is 2.5 miles each way. The trail-head starts out in the Moraine Valley where we spotted elk grazing right off the trail.
Feeling the Burn
Beyond the valley you enter a wooded section of the trail that is scarred by fire damage. Truthfully, the first time I hiked through this area I didn’t think it was very pretty. This time I decided to find the unique beauty in it which made a big difference on how much more I enjoyed this section of the hike.
There were a few uphill bursts before the lake – made more challenging by snow and baby.
We made it to Cub Lake and took a little refreshment break! Later in the season we’d likely see lily pads on top.
After our break I offered to take turns and have Cecy ride on my back. This lasted about 25 minutes going down hill. Aren’t I nice? But honestly, I couldn’t have gone much further. It was tough work!! I’m excited to try again and build up some endurance and muscles this summer.
On New Year’s Day, my husband and I decided to try something new and rented snowshoes in Estes Park, Colorado.
We started out at the Bierstadt Lake trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park and climbed uphill 1.3 miles to the frozen lake and back down. The views were gorgeous the whole way!
The snow was pretty packed in, so I don’t know if snowshoes were 100% necessary. We saw several people in them and several people with micro-spikes like these.
winter hiking gear
I’m a total novice and thought I would be very cold because the temperature was only 22 degrees. I started with long sleeve Under Armour shirt (similar), a long sleeve t-shirt, a Northface fleece jacket, a waterproof winter jacket, Under Armour cold weather leggings, athletic pants, two pairs of wool socks, a hat, gloves and waterproof hiking boots.. Once we got moving, I took off several layers.
Speaking of heating up – sunglasses are essential because the snow makes the sun even brighter and for me it’s easy to forget drinking water when it’s cold, so I had to remind myself to drink up. We didn’t bring sunscreen, but I think it would be a good idea next time along with chapstick.
This past summer, we went to the same beautiful lake via Bear Lake trailhead with our daughter Cecilia. Since this was our first time snowshoeing, we decided to be extra cautious and get a babysitter (my amazing sister). We saw a couple on the trail with a baby, and learned snowshoeing isn’t much different than walking, so I would definitely consider taking her on future snowshoe adventures.
I bought this guide a couple of years ago as a gift for my husband at Kind Coffee, our can’t-miss coffee shop in Estes Park, CO. My favorite part of the book is the ‘destination chart’ in the appendix. Foster lists basically every destination in RMNP and it’s distance, trailhead, elevation starting point, elevation gain, and rating (grade, class and snow/ice). When we are hiking with our 10 month old, I’ve been looking for hikes that are 6 miles or less round trip and have a low grade and class rating. Foster also put together a helpful list of over 50 attractions in the book’s index under “family-friendly hiking destinations”.
Sadly, a week after I bought the guide downtown Estes Park and much of the surrounding area was hit by a devastating flood. Even though the town did an amazing job rebuilding, we’ve seen major changes in trails including one of our favorites, Twin Sisters Peak. I’ll write about our adventure with navigating the landslide damage soon!
Cecy has sensitive skin and riding in the carrier against her Dad’s back was making her little stomach break out in a rash because she’d get hot and sweaty. Now before we go on hikes I put a protective lotion like Aquaphor on her and then put her in a little pink Under Armour outfit I got at Scheels. I kind of felt silly buying Under Armour gear for my little one who can’t walk yet, but I’m telling you the breathable fabric helped so much. I think the key was getting a romper or onesie. I was afraid a shirt would ride up on her during hikes.