Breathtaking Hike to Dream Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

Dream Lake is a popular hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. We hiked the trail at the end of May. It’s always helpful to check the park’s trail conditions before selecting a hike, especially this time of year. (Here is the link)

You start at the Bear Lake trailhead which is a hot spot in the park! If you can’t find a parking spot in the lot, don’t give up – the national park has a park and ride shuttle that is free to use once you’ve paid the entrance fee. Routes change with the season. (more info)

Once we unpacked the kids from car, we were greeted by friendly and knowledgeable park staff and volunteers. Don’t forget to say thank you to them for keeping the park such a clean and amazing place – especially the people who have to clean the bathrooms. Bear Lake has several non-flushing toilets available.

The total hike is 1.1 miles each way starting at 9,450 ft in elevation and gaining 450ft. You will cross by Nymph Lake half way into the hike which is a lovely spot.

Nymph is short for Nymphae polysepala the original scientific name for the lily pads that adorn the lake during the summer months. (according to Rocky Mountain National Park – the Complete Hiking Guide by Lisa Foster)

As you continue to climb, the views of the surrounding mountains open up.

Hike to Dream Lake Rocky Mountain National Park

You will pass by a small waterfall which is a great spot for a family picture (if your kids cooperate)

Young Families in Rocky Mountain National Park

Here is a view from the top.

pretty scenes in Rocky Mountain National Park

We were excited for the opportunity to play in a little snow right before Dream Lake, but had to use extra caution because it was pretty slippery in places.

Snow hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

And finally our Dream Lake destination, which never gets old no matter how many times we hike to this gorgeous spot.

Dream Lake Rocky Mountain National Park

 

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Holding on to a Beautiful Dream

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It seems like a distant memory – my first trip to Rocky Mountain National Park with my husband. We were well rested, very in love newly weds and we had a fantastic weekend full of amazing hikes. The first hike he took me on was up Twin Sisters. We also went to Flattop and Timberline Falls.

When we had our first daughter we were determined to keep hiking. We purchased our condo and took the voyage across Kansas to Colorado as often as we could.

A year later I found out I was pregnant with our second baby on Memorial Day weekend in Estes Park. We had just hiked up to Gem Lake and I felt a little too tired ūüôā Even during early/mid pregnancy I continued to hike pretty good distances and loved every minute. Soon after Evy was born we headed out to Colorado – even though it was snowing!

Now, looking forward to the summer ahead I’m feeling overwhelmed. I’m not sure why traveling and hiking with a 3-year-old and 1-year-old seems so much more daunting? I keep asking myself, will our trips be worth the long drives and the changes in routine? Will we even be able to go on hikes over 1 mile this year?

After some serious soul-searching and discussions with my husband I think the answer is yes – it will be daunting. And, I don’t know how many hikes we will do over 1 mile.¬†But, most importantly YES it will be worth it.¬†

So, I’m going to take the next month or so brainstorming all the amazing, realistic mountain activities we can enjoy at this specific time in our lives. The girls are so much fun and I know we are going to have a blast.

I believe as they hike further and further on their own two little feet, they will gain confidence that will boost their self-esteem throughout life. I believe being out in nature is good for our souls. I believe having screen free family time is valuable beyond measure. So bring on the tantrums, the challenges, the tests …. we got this! We are not giving up on our beautiful dreams.

Seeking Serenity in the Mountains – A Hike To Mills Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

I feel joy and peace when I look at the pictures from our most recent hike to Mills Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. At 5.6 miles round trip, this was our longest and final hike during our Labor Day weekend trip.

Mills Lake

The hike began at Bear Lake trailhead (9,475 ft elevation) with a downhill slope for the first half mile. A female elk crossed ahead of us before we continued on the trail up towards Alberta Falls.

*Alberta Falls, a popular destination, is .8 miles into the hike (200 ft gain )

Hiking with Baby in Rocky Mountain National Park

The hike from Alberta Falls to Mills Lake gains another 500 feet in elevation. Sometimes it’s hard with kids to go on longer hikes, but the longer the distance the more we’ve been able to enjoy the mental, spiritual and physical benefits of hiking in the mountains. It’s worth pushing ourselves through the extra mileage and elevation gain.¬†¬†Hiking to Mills Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

Mills Lake was serene and breathtaking. The weather was sunny and crisp with the first signs of Fall appearing as patches of golden leaves trickling down the mountains.

When things get crazy with scary news, frustrating facebook feeds, dealing with sick kiddos… I’ve been trying to return to Mills Lake in my mind and linger there a while. It’s my ‘happy place.’ Do you have one?

I’m so grateful I get to return to the mountains for another hiking trip this weekend!

 

 

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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

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We stopped for a snack which made everyone happy.

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

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

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

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

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!