Walking in a Windy Winter Wonderland

This weekend we headed to Estes Park, Colorado for a quick getaway before the holiday season officially begins.

We bundled up and went on a walk around Lily Lake (one of our favorite kid friendly spots). IMG_3409

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The temperature wasn’t too cold, but we were immediately blasted by strong, frigid winds.  For the first five minutes I wanted to quit, but I’m glad we toughed it out! Soon we were shielded from the wind by trees and Cecy took a nap on her Daddy’s back. We added (less than half a mile) by hiking the Lily Ridge trail for views of the frozen lake with Estes Cone and Longs Peak as the stunning backdrop.

We also took Cecy on her first sledding adventure with a trip to Hidden Valley in Rocky Mountain National Park.

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The valley used to be a winter ski destination, but now families use the slopes for sledding. It’s pretty steep for a 1 year old, so we took turns sledding with her down the hill. We also took a couple of turns for ourselves. I forgot how much fun sledding is!

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We bought our sled at the Warming House, an outdoor adventure store in Estes Park.

4 Reasons October is My New Favorite Month in Rocky Mountain National Park

Every season in Rocky Mountain National Park is unique and beautiful, but early October is my new favorite time to visit. What makes it the best?

1. parking

We easily found a parking spot at the typically popular Bear Lake lot when we hiked to scenic Mills Lake

Mills Lake
Mills Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

2.the weather

The temperature was crisp, but once we started moving it was very comfortable (mid 50s)

Jumping for Joy - October is the best in RMNP
Jumping for Joy – October is the best in RMNP

3. golden aspens

The colorful aspen autumn leaves are stunning!

Golden Colorado
Golden Colorado aspens on hike to Mills Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

4. elk rut

Elk bugling season – this is a great time of year for spotting wildlife and watching the unique rituals of men elk trying to impress the most lady elk with high-pitched bugling noises, picking fights with other males and showing off their impressive antlers. The city of Estes Park hosts Elk Fest to celebrate the season. More info…

Elk Fest
Elk Fest in Estes Park, Colorado

Rocky Mountain Tot Goes to Gem Lake

In his guide, ‘Best Hikes Rocky Mountain National Park’, Kent Dannen says, ‘my favorite trail is the one I hiked most recently.’ So true! My heart skips a beat every time I think of our hike to Gem Lake. The autumn aspens, the crisp air, the breathtaking views, 11 month old Cecy content the whole hike…now that’s what my dream hikes are made of!

We started out at Lumpy Ridge trailhead and hiked through boulders and unique rock formations with frequent stops to catch our breath and take in the panoramic views of Estes Park and the Rocky Mountain range behind us. This was a moderately strenuous hike because of the steep steps that lead up to the lake, but the short distance at 1.8 miles each way made it pretty attainable.

Aspens IN rocky mountain National Park
Aspens
Paul Bunyan's Boot in Rocky Mountain National Park
Paul Bunyan’s Boot
Rocky Mountain views
Rocky Mountain views
Stairs climbing up to Gem Lake
Up, up, up!
Gem Lake
Gem Lake
Ergo baby kid carrier
Cutest little hiker on the trail

If you work up a thirst, you can try out one of the new breweries in town called Lumpy Ridge Brewing Company. Located in an old gas station, the brewery has a small, eclectic tasting room plus a couple of outdoor picnic tables where you can enjoy the beer and Lumpy Ridge views.

Relaxing Stroll on Lily Lake

Beautiful Lily Lake is right across the street from Twin Sisters trailhead on highway 7. A flat .8 mile trail circles the lake. This is an easier walk for anyone who struggles with strenuous terrain. Several benches are available offering an opportunity to rest and soak in the gorgeous views. We enjoyed showing Cecy the little ducks on the lake and the pretty wild flowers that surround it.  This is a spot I expect to return to again and again, especially when Cecy starts walking. She took a few cautious steps on her own yesterday – so that might be soon!

Ducks
Baby Duck with Her Momma

Summer wild flowers surround Lily Lake
Summer wild flowers surround Lily Lake