New Family – Favorite Hike: Black Canyon Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park

Just when I think we’ve hiked every kid-friendly trail in Rocky Mountain National Park, we find a new one and I get so very excited to try it out. Our recent hike on the Black Canyon trail exceeded our expectations. Our young girls enjoyed themselves because of the short distance and rocks to climb on, while I appreciated the unique rock formations and the mountain views.

Lumpy Ridge Trailhead

The Black Canyon trail leaves from the Lumpy Ridge trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park. The Lumpy Ridge is located off of Devils Gulch road in Estes Park, Colorado.

Raptors

This area is known for unique rock formations which are natural habitats for raptors. When raptors make nests in the rocks, the National Park Service shuts down the trail to protect these birds of prey. When planning a trip, just be aware that the trail might be closed from spring through mid-summer.

rock climbing and trail running

The Lumpy Ridge is a popular technical rock climbing destination. You can see Twin Owls perched above the trail. We saw several rock climbers heading up with their ropes and climbing gear. This trail also seems to be a popular spot for trail running.

Twin Owls
Rock climbing for little rock climbers
Walk through aspen grove with Twin Owls in background

Views of the Rocky Mountains

This area offers expansive views of the peaks in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Views of the Rocky Mountains from Black Canyon Trail
Rocks along the trail
‘Tree house’

There was a huge rock and tree right off the trail that my girls LOVED. They pretended that it was their tree house. This was a great spot to enjoy a water break.

We continued our hike, but soon the trail divided. The left leads to climber access trails for Batman Rock as well as The Book, The Pear, and Sundance Buttress. We were surprised to see that the trail continues all the way to Lawn Lake (9 miles).

Towards the right, there is a trail up to Lower Twin Owls and Upper Twin Owls. We decided to head back the way we came, making the total distance 1.2 miles round-trip.

National Park Service map at trail head – I added yellow highlight to show trail section we hiked on.

More hikes from lumpy ridge Trailhead

On prior trips, we’ve enjoyed hiking up to Gem Lake. Seeing our young kids, a park ranger urged us to go on the Black Canyon trail and I appreciate the suggestion. Gem Lake is a great hike, but a good portion of that hike is straight up the mountain.

Links to our posts about Gem Lake:

Rocky Mountain Tot Goes to Gem Lake

Riding High in New Kid Carrier

Top Spot for a Sunset Stroll Overlooking Estes Park, Colorado- The Centennial Open Space at Knoll-Willows

I discovered gold! Okay, so maybe that’s an exaggeration, but on our last trip to Estes Park, Colorado I found a new hiking trail located a few minutes from the Safeway grocery store. I squeezed in a little ‘me time’ and got back with the milk before our girls noticed I was gone.

The Centennial Open Space at Knoll-Willows is located across the street from the historic Stanley Hotel. Someday, when I want to extend my excursion, I will walk around the hotel’s gift shop or warm up with a cup of butternut squash soup at their Cascades Restaurant & Lounge.

On this trip I was in a hurry and eager to capture the views over downtown Estes Park before sunset. I looped around the trail and stopped at several benches to take in the views of the mountains.

The open space is home to two historic structures. According to signage, these ruins used to be the home of Albert Birch, city editor for the Denver Post.

It was built with an impressive fireplace and large windows with enviable views of the Rocky Mountains.

I can imagine how cozy this home was back in 1907 when it was built.

Overlooking downtown Estes Park, Colorado

From the hill where it rests, the quaint town of Estes Park glows under the setting sun. The trail can be followed down the hill towards Town Hall passing by another historic cabin.

Rocky Mountain views

Although it was getting cold, I couldn’t stop watching the colorful sky and the snow capped mountains.

Twin Owls Sunset

Even though I loved spending some alone time here, I can’t wait to take my husband back for a romantic stroll or my girls back for a hike. The trail is short and easy enough for young kids to do on their own.

Winter Refresh

We have been doing a winter refresh project. Check out this post that we recently updated.

Get the Most out of Your Rocky Mountain Vacation by Avoiding Crowds, Bugs and Carsick Kiddos