Fantastic Family Hike to Fern Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

I can feel the frustration coming out in my writing when I look back at the last time we made it to Fern Falls with a Fussy Baby.

This time around, I hope I can express my delight with this waterfall hike. We ventured out on May 25th, the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. Although the Rocky Mountain National Park filled up with visitors over the holiday, we lucked out with great parking* close to the Fern Falls trailhead.

A highlight of this lower elevation* hike is the nearly constant view of the Big Thompson River. Most of the hike is very child friendly as long as you watch out for little ones wandering too close to the river, or getting too adventurous on the amazing rock formations.

Big Thompson River

Arch Rocks

We started the hike with the hopes of making it to Arch Rocks (1.2 miles) or The Pool (1.7 miles) if we were lucky, but the girls were doing so awesome we decided to hike to Fern Falls which is 2.6 miles each way. That’s a little far for our kids to hike on their own, so we carried them a lot of the way in a deuter kids carrier and an ergo baby carrier.

kids hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park

The distance from The Pool to Fern Falls is a little under a mile, but you gain 400 feet of elevation quickly. I was out of breath but had to remind myself that I was carrying a 16-month-old toddler.

The hike up was totally worth it. Everyone was in a great mood and the waterfall was impressive.

Fern Falls lives up to its name, the surrounding area is lush and damp. We didn’t stop long because mosquitoes were swarming the area.

Trip Tips:

*Fern Lake trailhead has a small non-paved parking area. The road leading to the trailhead becomes narrow for two-way vehicle traffic. There is shuttle service and some additional parking .8 miles away from the trailhead.

*Fern Falls trailhead begins at 8,150 ft of elevation so when I say ‘lower elevation’ I mean  low compared to many places in RMNP, but high for those of us from non-mountain regions. Remember to take it easy and drink lots of water!

Advertisements

Hold on to your sleds! ‘Snow’ Much Fun in Rocky Mountain National Park

We recently bundled up our family for a winter adventure in Estes Park, Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park. Our weekend began at Lily Lake where we pulled the girls (ages 1 and 3) around the mostly flat loop on our sled. Our three-year old enjoyed playing in the powdery snow.

lily lake in the snow

We also enjoyed an epic sledding excursion at Hidden Valley which is located inside Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s the only place in the park where true sledding is allowed. The area was once a ski destination.

When we got out of our car the ranger warned, ‘hold on to your sleds.’ After a windy blast, we quickly learned why. Our little sled flew into the air and landed in a patch of distant trees where we recovered it and held on tighter. The winter winds can be mighty!

My husband and I took turns riding on the sled with the girls. It was fun for us and helped guarantee the girls a smoother ride.

TIPS

*This is a BYOS (Bring Your Own Sled 🙂 hill

*There was a flushing toilet/restroom facility located by the Hidden Valley parking lot.

*You can learn more details and tips about Hidden Valley here at visitestespark.com or on the park service’s website.

Hidden Valley sledding

Rocky Mountain National Park is located near Estes Park, Colorado. The quaint downtown is filled with twinkling lights this time of year making the shops and restaurants feel even more festive than normal.  On our way into downtown we spotted a male elk. Hello sir!

Elk in Estes Park

Once downtown, we grabbed a cup of steaming hot Kind Coffee and walked along the Big Thompson River. The river was mostly frozen over with tiny ice droplets dipping into the running water.

Big Thompson River frozen

Some sunsets feel more like gifts. We experienced a bright and colorful display over the snow dusted mountains. It’s beauty reminded me to stop and give thanks for the amazing moments we got to share as family in this special place.

Sunset in Estes Park CO

Have you visited RMNP in the winter? What is your favorite winter activity? 

The Pool: Evy’s First Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

This was a great first hike for our little Evy. She slept the whole way – snuggled in warm against her mamma.

Last week we made a crazy, last-minute decision to take a trip to Colorado with our toddler and newborn. They did  great on the long drive to Estes Park which makes me optimistic about future trips as a family of 4.

We decided to hike to The Pool which is one of our family’s favorite 2-4 mile hikes. The lower elevation was great for me because I haven’t done a whole lot of exercise since Evy was born in January and also great for my husband who had to carry our growing toddler. We started our hike at Fern Lake trail head in the Moraine Valley.

IMG_7552

We walked through a few patches of snow and some areas that were a little wet and muddy from melt, but overall the trail was in good walking condition.

IMG_7553

We spotted this waterfall which seemed to be the culprit for some of the sogginess.

IMG_7558

1.2 miles into our hike we arrived at the always-impressive Arch Rocks.

IMG_7562

Eventually our two-year-old Cecy negotiated with her dad to get out of the carrier. She was carried over jagged rocks that we were afraid she might slip on.

IMG_7563

She walked a good distance too! She got tripped up on a rock, but made a quick recovery.

IMG_7567

We stopped for a snack which made everyone happy.

IMG_7574

1.7 miles into our journey along the Big Thompson River we made it to The Pool.

IMG_7576

If you cross over the bridge, the trail will continue on to Fern Falls and Fern Lake.

IMG_7577

This was a great first hike for our little Evy. She slept the whole way –  snuggled in warm against her mamma.

IMG_7541

We love our girls and can’t wait to take them on more adventures in RMNP!

Fern Falls with a Fussy Baby

The longer I’m a Mom, the more I appreciate back up plans!

We arrived to Rocky Mountain National Park on a popular summer weekend so we couldn’t find a parking spot near the Fern Lake trailhead. The park had a great backup option. We were able to park at the Fern Lake Park & Ride lot (added a .7 mile walk each way on narrow, gravel road).

The hike begins on pretty flat terrain and follows the Big Thompson River. The area is lush with several access points to fish or picnic.

Big Thompson River
Big Thompson River

Cecy didn’t sleep well the night before our hike, so she started out pretty fussy. If she didn’t settle down and fall asleep in her carrier, our backup plan was to cut the hike a little shorter by stopping at either Arch Rocks or The Pool.  Arch Rocks are 40ft vertical boulders that lean towards one another. They are huge!

Arch Rocks
Arch Rocks

The final mile from The Pool to Fern Falls felt pretty steep, so I was relieved to see the waterfall and start our journey back.

Fern Falls
Fern Falls
Back by Arch Rocks - almost done!
Back by Arch Rocks – almost done!