Lower Elevation Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park

Can you feel the pull to reach the highest mountain summit? When we visit Rocky Mountain National Park, there is always the temptation to find the highest and longest hike. However, starting out with some lower elevation hikes during the first couple days of our trip is a really good way to acclimate our bodies. Compared to our home town (in Arkansas) there are no ‘low elevation’ hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, so I use this as a relative term.

Views on the Kruger Rock trail

Lower elevation hikes are also great during the spring and winter because they typically have less snow. I’ve listed a brief description of some of the hiking destinations that are 8,500 ft in elevation or lower. There are also links to articles with more details beneath each.

Lumpy Ridge – Turnoff Elevation 7,750 ft

Our favorite hike from the Lumpy Ridge trailhead is Gem Lake which is 1.6 miles each way and features panoramic views and a small, pretty lake. The Lumpy Ridge area is located off of Devils Gulch road in Estes Park, Colorado. This area is also known for rock climbing and features unique rock formations like the famous Twin Owls.

Twin Owls Rocky Mountain National Park

I’ve written about Gem Lake in several previous posts including: Rocky Mountain Tot Goes to Gem Lake and Riding High in New Kid Carrier.

Black Canyon Trail is another great hike in the Lumpy Ridge area.

Cub Lake – trailhead elevation 8,080 ft

The 2.5 mile hike to Cub Lake begins in the Moraine Valley at the Cub Lake trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park. The hike is peaceful and scenic. The Big Thompson river winds through the valley and mountains tower in the distance.

Cub Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain Tot Goes to Cub Lake

Cub Lake Trail – a Wildlife Hotspot in Rocky Mountain National Park

fern lake – trailhead elevation 8,155 ft

The Fern Lake trailhead leads to Arch Rocks (1.2 miles/way), The Pool (1.7 miles/way) and Fern Falls (2.6 miles/way). A highlight of this hike is the nearly constant view of the Big Thompson River. 

Arch Rocks in Rocky Mountain National Park

I’ve written several posts about this area of the park including: Fantastic Family Hike to Fern Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park, Fern Falls with a Fussy Baby and The Pool: Evy’s First Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Hermit park – trailhead elevation 8,200 ft

Hermit Park is located just outside of Estes Park on Highway 36.  This area is not part of the national park, so dogs are allowed on the trail.

Kruger Rock—A Dog Friendly, Early Season Trail just outside Estes Park, Colorado

Upper Beaver Meadows – Elevation 8,290 ft

Enjoy views of surrounding mountains including Longs Peak and the sweet smell of Ponderosa pine trees as you walk along the trail.

Spring Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park: Upper Beaver Meadows

Hollowell Park – Elevation 8,300 Ft

If you are looking for a less crowded area of the park, Hollowell Park is an alternative starting point to popular destinations like Cub Lake.

A Trail Less Traveled: Hollowell Park to Mill Creek Basin in Rocky Mountain National Park

Wild Basin – Elevation 8,390 ft

Rocky Mountain National Park’s Wild Basin Area is the setting for some of our favorite waterfall hikes. Located 19 miles south of Estes Park on Highway 7, the Wild Basin is more remote.

Family Friendly Waterfall Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park’s Wild Basin

Into the Wild Basin in Rocky Mountain National Park

Sweeping Mountain Views and Waterfalls – Our New Favorite Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park’s Wild Basin

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