Deer Mountain – a Family Friendly Summit Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

Looking for a family friendly summit hike in Rocky Mountain National Park? There is something very rewarding about reaching the summit of a mountain, but with young kids it’s hard to spend the time, energy and face the technical challenges of hiking up many of the prominent peaks.

Good news! You don’t have to hike all day to experience wonderful panoramic views and gain that awesome feeling of accomplishment. A three-mile hike up Deer Mountain offers both. The hike is located at Deer Ridge Junction, a few miles west of the Beaver Meadows entrance.

Hiking with a baby in the mountains

There isn’t a parking lot near Deer Mountain. Cars park right off the street making parking limited.

Parking near Deer Mountain is limited

Gear for hiking with young children and babies
I carried our 4 month old in an Ergobaby carrier and my husband carried our 2 1/2-year-old in a Deuter kid comfort carrier. With the added weight, we were happy to take extra breaks to enjoy the inspiring mountain vistas.

Great views on the way up Deer Mountain in RMNP

As we approached the summit, we hiked through melting snow which is pretty common in May –  especially this year.  I was thankful for my waterproof hiking boots, but we still got wet and muddy. Keeping a pair of flip-flops in the car to change into post hike would be helpful.

Deer Mountain Summit near Estes Park Colorado

Trekking poles were also helpful. You gain 1,093 ft of elevation.

Hiking Deer Mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park in May

Standing at 10,013′ we made it to the summit. This was our youngest daughter’s first summit hike. Both girls were ready for a snack at this point, but we were worried about dark clouds looming in the distance and decided to start our descent. We probably should have started this hike earlier in the day because storms are more common in the afternoon. Deer Mountain, good spring summit hike for families in Rocky Mountains

On the way down, we had to be cautious in a few areas where slippery rocks were covered in slushy snow (especially with our precious cargo).

Hiking in snow

Luck was on our side, the weather cleared and we enjoyed the 3 mile return trip under blue skies.

Hiking Deer Mountain

 

Cecy’s first trip to Rocky Mountain National Park

As this summer winds to an end, it’s fun to look back at all of the fun trips we’ve had. This summer started for us on May 30th at an elevation of 10,013 feet with panoramic views of Rocky Mountain National Park and a little bit of snow. We strapped our six month old daughter to my husband’s back via our Ergobaby and hiked a six mile round trip trail up and back down Deer Mountain.

Deer Mountain trailhead
Deer Mountain trailhead

We chose Deer Mountain for our first family adventure in Colorado because some of the higher altitude hikes were still covered in snow. There was some snow near the top of this trail too, but far less than in other areas of RMNP.

62615 062

Cecy napped the whole way – how cute are her little feet hanging out of the carrier!? I didn’t have a clue what babies should wear on hikes, so I kept her in her pajamas. At least her little feet stayed warm, but I’ve since found better baby hiking apparel options which I’ll write about soon.

62615 066

This was a fun early season hike and also a great way to celebrate my husband’s birthday!

62615 068

Valencia Peak in California

When I think of hiking up mountains, I don’t normally think of seeing dolphins on the descent. Back in February we visited my brother who lives in Morro Bay, California and he took us to Montana De Oro State Park to climb up Valencia Peak which rises 1,347 feet. That doesn’t sound high if you are used to Colorado’s elevation, but we basically started right at sea level.

Valencia Peak with husband and baby
Valencia Peak with husband and baby
Ocean view trail
The trail is right on the ocean, gorgeous!

I was pretty proud of myself for chugging through the 3.7 miles! (roundtrip) I was also happy that Cecilia, who was only 3 months old, did so well strapped to my front in her Ergobaby carrier. When it got a little sunnier, we pulled up the hood to protect her head.

Yes, we had to change a diaper on the trail and she cried a little for milk towards the end, but hiking with my daughter was one of the things I was most excited for when I was pregnant.

The perfect weather, ocean views, my brother acting as an awesome ‘hike guide’, and spotting dolphins made Cecilia’s first hike pretty hard to beat!

Valencia Peak, Montana De Oro State Park, CA
Valencia Peak, Montana De Oro State Park, CA