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

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. There is no shuttle service to this area of the park. The roads are narrow and in places pretty rough.

The bumpy drive is worth it.  We love this area of the park – it feels like an adventure and the hike to Copeland Falls is only .3 miles from the Wild Basin trailhead.

There is an upper falls and lower falls, go to both!

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It’s amazing how much beauty you can see on such a short hike. I love the waterfalls and towering trees. I enjoy the contrast of the different color tree barks and spring leaves. It’s a short, relatively flat hike so I try to notice every detail. IMG_8310

My husband was patient while I tried to ‘capture’ the beauty of this moss type plant. Then I remembered he was carrying a 2 year old on his shoulders, so I hiked a little faster for him.

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After Copeland Falls we decided to continue our hike towards Calypso Cascades.IMG_8314

…but we stopped a little short when we felt a few rain drops and noticed gathering dark clouds.

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This picturesque bridge is located just beyond the trail sign and made a great stopping point at 1.5 miles in. Calypso Cascades is stunning, so if you have time to go I highly recommend it.

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Our sleepy little one gives this waterfall hike a thumbs up! IMG_8341

What are your favorite waterfall hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park? Do you ever stop a little shy of your goal destination? 

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Riding High in New Kid Carrier

On our most recent trip to Colorado we were excited to try out our new kid carrier for a hike up to Gem Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.
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After renting packs for our last few trips, we decided to buy a Deuter carrier from REI (similar).

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Cecy enjoyed the view riding up high. She seemed very comfortable and there was more space between her and my husband so they didn’t get as hot. We also bought a sun roof and rain cover for the carrier (similar) which will come in handy this summer.

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The Deuter carrier came with a little stuffed bear which we nicked named ‘buddy’.Overall, I think this is going to be a great investment for family hiking adventures.

Toddler Self Guided Tour of Sprague Lake

We took a quick weekend trip to Estes Park, Colorado last weekend to celebrate my husband’s upcoming birthday! His bestfriend staid with us for part of the trip, so my husband got some good ‘guy-time’ hiking in while I took Cecy on a mommy-daughter hiking adventure around Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.

The weather was perfect, the scenery was gorgeous and we enjoyed taking our time to explore every rock, puddle and log along the half mile loop.

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At 8,688′ of elevation, there was still a little snow melting on the path in a few places.

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Cecy loved running across the wooden bridges that cross marshy areas.

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She climbed on the smooth boulders that rest off the trail.

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Several wooden benches line the path which are great for taking a snack break or just sitting down to enjoy the mountain views. These are also great spots for family photo ops!

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A park sign points out the peaks you can see from Sprague Lake on the Continental Divide: Half Mountain, Thatchtop, Taylor Peak, Otis Peak, Hallet Peak, Tyndall Glacier, Flattop Mountain and Notchtop.

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I cherish this special time with my little hiking buddy.

Rocky Mountain Tot Goes to Bridal Veil Falls

Rocky Mountain National Park’s Bridal Veil Falls is located in a more remote area of the park. The land was once a cattle ranch and was converted to a destination dude ranch before the park service purchased the land in 1988.
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From the Cow Creek trail-head it is a 3.2 mile hike to Bridal Veil Falls.

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The trail meanders along the creek.

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When you get 1.2 miles into the hike you can split off to go to destinations like Balanced Rock or Gem Lake. We will keep this in mind for future hikes, but for this one we kept on our original path. IMG_4877

It definitely feels like an old John Wayne movie out in these parts!IMG_4872

Until we cross over the creek and into the woods.

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Wait, where did the trail go!?

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I’m pretty sure this is not the 20 foot waterfall we were looking for.

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But, that’s okay our little dudette was pretty tuckered out.

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We will have to try this one again. In the mean time if you are interested in hiking to the falls, I recommend reading this helpful post from Rocky Mountain Hiking Trails.com. Good luck!

Rocky Mountain Tot Goes to Cub Lake

Last week we headed to Colorado to celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary, because what could be more romantic than bringing a one-and-a-half year old hiking? Well, maybe it wasn’t the most romantic trip we’ve been on, but I couldn’t think of a prettier place to celebrate than Rocky Mountain National Park.

Weather
When we plan hikes with our little one the first thing we think about is the weather conditions. The Bear Lake area currently has 40 inches of snow. We wanted to stay in lower elevation, so we decided to check out the Cub Lake trail which is in the majestic Moraine Valley. We were lucky to arrive on a sunny day, but melting snow made the trail muddy in places and we went through a few snow patches.

Gear
It’s amazing how fast Cecy is growing.  We are planning to replace her beloved baby carrier for a sturdier kid carrier soon, but for this trip we rented one at the Warming House in Estes Park for $10 per day (similar). I bought trekking poles (similar) which helped keep our balance especially in the snow, and took some of the impact off our knees and back. I was also very thankful for my waterproof hiking boots!

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The Cub Lake trail is 2.5 miles each way. The trail-head starts out in the Moraine Valley where we spotted elk grazing right off the trail.

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Feeling the Burn
Beyond the valley you enter a wooded section of the trail that is scarred by fire damage. Truthfully, the first time I hiked through this area I didn’t think it was very pretty. This time I decided to find the unique beauty in it which made a big difference on how much more I enjoyed this section of the hike.

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There were a few uphill bursts before the lake – made more challenging by snow and baby.

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We made it to Cub Lake and took a little refreshment break! Later in the season we’d likely see lily pads on top.

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After our break I offered to take turns and have Cecy ride on my back. This lasted about 25 minutes going down hill. Aren’t I nice? But honestly, I couldn’t have gone much further. It was tough work!! I’m excited to try again and build up some endurance and muscles this summer.

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I took Cecy for about 10% of the hike (downhill). 

 

New Year, New Outdoor Adventures

On New Year’s Day, my husband and I decided to try something new and rented snowshoes from the Warming House in Estes Park, CO.  The $8/day rental included personal instructions on how to properly put them on and trekking poles.

We started out at the Bierstadt Lake trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park and climbed uphill 1.3 miles to the frozen lake and back down.  The views were gorgeous the whole way!

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The snow was pretty packed in, so I don’t know if snowshoes were 100% necessary. We saw several people in them and several people with micro-spikes like these.

I’m a total novice and thought I would be very cold because the temperature was only 22 degrees.  I started with long sleeve Under Armour shirt (similar), a long sleeve t-shirt, a Northface fleece jacket (similar) , a waterproof winter jacket (similar), Under Armour cold weather leggings, athletic pants, two pairs of wool socks, a hat, gloves and waterproof hiking boots (similar).  Once we got moving, I took off several layers.

Speaking of heating up – sunglasses are essential because the snow makes the sun even brighter and for me it’s easy to forget drinking water when it’s cold, so I had to remind myself to drink up. We didn’t bring sunscreen, but I think it would be a good idea next time along with chapstick.

This past summer we went to the same beautiful lake via Bear Lake trailhead with our daughter Cecilia which I wrote about here. Since this was our first time snowshoeing, we decided to be extra cautious and get a babysitter (my amazing sister). We saw a couple on the trail with a baby, and learned snowshoeing isn’t much different than walking, so I would definitely consider taking her on future snowshoe adventures.

Even though I love hiking with our little one, I have to admit it was fun going on a snow day date with my husband!

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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.