Last year my husband wrote about his solo hike to Kruger Rock near Estes Park, Colorado. He enjoyed the trail so much that we decided to try hiking up to Kruger Rock as a family this year. I was blown away that my 5-year-old daughter hiked this on her own. My husband carried our younger daughter. We all enjoyed the challenge and appreciated the amazing views.
hermit park open space
Hermit Park Open Space is located Southeast of Estes Park, Colorado on highway 36. There is a daily entrance fee of $9 per vehicle. We went to Hermit Park to hike to Kruger Rock. Additional activities include camping, biking, and horseback riding.
Kruger ROck Trail
The hike to Kruger Rock is 1.7 miles each way. The starting elevation is 8,444 ft and gains 878 ft. Dogs are allowed on a leash.
This is a popular attraction, so plan to arrive early to get a parking spot. During our visit, we practiced social distancing by pulling on face masks when we were unable to keep 6 ft distance between us and other hikers (which was not often).
The hike begins through a meadow where we enjoyed seeing a variety of wildflowers. You can see Kruger Rock peeking above the trees in the distance.
We stopped several times on our hike for quick snack breaks.
I believe this purple flower is a pasqueflower. According to the national park’s website, it is one of the earliest flowers to bloom.
When I think of aspen trees I typically imagine the golden aspens of autumn, however the new green leaves in springtime are also stunning.
The hike uphill can get tiring, so we were thankful for the lookout points where we could stop to take in the expansive views of the Rocky Mountains. These spots are rewarding on their own for anyone who wants to cut the hike short.
The final ascent up Kruger Rock is a scramble. This was the first time our daughter attempted a summit like this, but we felt that the rock walls on both sides made this fairly safe from a serious fall. For extra caution, my husband walked behind her and guided her to the top.
I staid back with our 3-year-old (and snacks) then went up on my own once my husband and daughter came back down. At the top, I enjoyed the cute chipmunks and the surrounding mountain views.
This video shows the 360 degree views from the top of Kruger Rock. We really enjoyed this hike. I’m eager to head back to Hermit Park to explore more trails in this area.
I was reading what other hikers have said about Kruger Rock on AllTrails and someone pointed out that they passed kids around age 5 on the hike, but the kids were whining and parents had to help carry them. I was wondering, is she talking about us!? Haha, that would definitely be a good description of the reality of hiking with young children sometimes. So, I thought I’d ask my daughter her thoughts:
Did you like the hike? Yes!
Do you want to do it again? No.
Why? Because it’s really long.
Are you proud that you did it? Yes, because it was really hard.
Advice for other kids? You should keep on going until you reach the top!
I believe the comment I read suggesting that this hike might be better for older kids is valid. I’m also glad we pushed ourselves. I think the overall topic of when to turn around when kids are complaining on a hike vs. when to encourage them to keep going, is something we can continue to explore in future posts.
Hermit Park Open Space – Larimer County website
Kruger Rock – A Dog Friendly, Early Season Trail just outside Estes Park, Colorado – Eric’s post from last year
Wildflowers – Rocky Mountain National Park, National Park Service.