The weather was perfect for early October, with brilliant skies and warm sun. It was crowded on the trail, particularly to the first landmark, Alberta Falls, only .6 miles away. When you get close to the falls, you can hear the roar of the water first, before you see it. We came around a bend and scrambled up some huge boulders to get a view. It’s not a large waterfall, but more of a length of steep rocks with water flowing swiftly over it. Many visitors were sitting around, and some were attempting to get across the torrent by jumping from rock and rock. At this point, the elevation was high enough to get a great view across the valley, which was incredibly beautiful on this bright day.
After a short rest, we continued upwards. The elevation gain was more noticeable and I was sucking wind! Although I am used to the altitude of Denver, the trail is between 9,000 and 10,000 feet. "Flatlanders" should allow several days to become acclimated before attempting any strenuous hikes in order not to succumb to altitude sickness.
After walking through the trees, we emerged onto a stretch of the trail along a high rocky ledge. The scenery was becoming more dramatic and the surrounding mountain peaks appeared to be closer. I wondered how far away we had to go, since I was very ready for a good sit! We trudged on, encountering a very steep switchback section, with rock "stairs." I was beginning to grumble and my legs were protesting at every high step. My husband, the mountain goat that he is, encouraged me with the promise that it wasn’t much further. I persevered; once I got to the top of the stairs, our goal was sight. And what a sight… a pristine high mountain lake, surrounded by snow-brushed craggy peaks. Wow! I sprawled on a boulder at the lake’s edge and felt much rewarded for making it. The silence was broken only by bird calls and the wind in the trees. No question, it was worth the effort.
After a rest, we headed down the trail. The thought of the hot tub back at our hotel was incentive not to slow down! We took about four hours to make the roundtrip, an excellent afternoon’s trek. If you’re up for a moderate hike, I highly recommend it.
Results 1-10of 22 Reviews
by Chris & Carinne
July 24, 2010
From journal National Parks Tour
August 12, 2006
The hike starts out at Bear Lake Trailhead. You'll be there early enough to avoid the 8-9am crowds, so you'll be able to get a parking space without difficulty. Start up the popular and heavily used Flattop Mountain trail. It's a moderate climb to the top of this mountain, with interesting views of Emerald and Dream Lakes as you near the "summit." Flattop Mountain is, in fact, flat. No "true summit" really exists. If you leave early enough, you'll see the sunrise from the continental divide, a truly memorable experience. Standing on the windy plain that is Flattop's surface, turn to your left and follow the sign to the summit of Hallet Peak.
Reaching Hallet's beautiful summit is a short but steep boulderhop. No prescribed route works best; just pick your own route to the (obvious) top marked by large cairns. Carefully descend Hallet and continue walking for about .2 miles towards the next peak: Otis Peak.
The ascent for your third mountain of the day is similar to that of Hallet, though it seemed a little more difficult to me when I was already tired.
Now, descend Otis and walk literally around the corner to the left to reach the top of Andrew's Glacier. Be sure to check on the condition of the glacier with a park ranger BEFORE planning your return via Andrew's Glacier. Pull out your poncho, sit down, and slide! But be sure to exercise caution when sliding down the glacier, because at the bottom lie Andrew's Tarn and dangerous rock piles. An uncontrolled slide down the glacier is extremely dangerous. If the right precautions are taken, however, it's a ton of fun, and this was my favorite part of the hike.
At the foot of the glacier, continue around the right side of Andrew's Tarn and follow a very faint and rocky trail that descends steeply into Glacier Gorge towards The Loch. I recommend going with a knowledgeable hiker who knows this trail, because it is very easy to lose, especially in the bad weather that could be coming your way by this time. On our way back, the trail was a little scary because it's comprised mostly of loose, large rocks that are extremely slippery when wet. At the end of the hike, soaking wet but satisfied, we took the free shuttle from Glacier Gorge Junction TH to Bear Lake TH to get our car and go home for a well-deserved dinner!
From journal Our Trip to Rocky Mountain National Park
by Texas Traveler
March 21, 2006
We typically start in the Winter Park/Granby area and take Trail Ridge Road over to Estes Park. One year on the 4th of July, it was snowing on us when we were up on the top!
Wildlife is abundant in the park. We've seen moose, elk, deer, big horn sheep, and lots of other "little critters." The pictures you can get are simply amazing.
There are lots of stopping places on the drive, with scenic outlooks for you to walk out on and enjoy the beautiful Colorado scenery! There is a restaurant/visitor area/restrooms up on the top, making a good halfway stopping point to stretch your legs. There are also a few other picnic areas on the drive, so be sure to pack a lunch and enjoy Colorado at its finest.
Trail Ridge Road is only open in the summer, but it's something we do every summer trip we take!
From journal Rocky Mountain National Park
January 11, 2006
From journal Estes Park, Colorado
Holly Grove, Arkansas
October 26, 2005
During a summer trip to Winter Park, we took a short drive to the Rocky Mountain National Park one day. It just costs $10 per vehicle to enter the park. We also drove up to the park during a winter trip, but it was closed. Once entering the park, there was a museum, and then we shortly saw a few deer off to the side of the road. We kept driving and looking at all the beautiful scenery. There were several places to pull over to view the area and take pictures. We took advantage of these places. They also offer many of activities, including many hiking trails, fly fishing, biking, cross-country skiing, and rock climbing. At the highest point on the road is a gift shop and hiking trail. We did hike this short trail to take pictures and looked around a while. One third of the park is above timberline. It has 71 peaks that top out above 12,000 feet. We then got back in the car and drove some more, seeing elk and a glacier area. It also snowed on us a little and our trip was in July! This was a great trip, and I hope to go back again. There was a lot to see and do.
From journal Vacations in Winter Park
May 17, 2005
From journal Estes Park - Rocky Mountain Wonderland
October 21, 2004
(Funny enough, only four days after leaving Colorado, the state was hit with a winter storm leaving 3-4 inches of snow in some places.)
Camping at RMNP The National Park encompasses 416 square miles of wilderness that includes 60 mountains over 12,000 ft above sea level. Wildlife roams freely throughout the park and often provides visitors with multiple animal encounters. Obviously, hiking is an main activity at the park, but things to do also include scenic drives, camping, nature centers, and museums. There is something for everyone at RMNP.
Suggested hikes:Glacier Gorge Junction TH to Black Lake HikeBear Lake Nature HikeFern LakeTH to Odessa Lake
From journal Beautiful Estes Park, CO
Liverpool, New York
August 31, 2004
The return trip on the Trail Ridge was a bit hair-raising when we reached the summit over 12,000 feet. Without guard rails and the steep glacier valleys below and the looming threat of afternoon thunderstorms, it was a trip to remember.
Our second day at the park was another early one = drive to the parking area for the Bear Lake shuttle. Buses take hikers up to the trailheads while the road is under construction. Bear Lake trail is easy and handicapped accessible. It affords everyone the opportunity to view the pristine lake and Flat Top Mountain. We hiked further in to Nymph and Dream Lakes - the views are awesome. Follow the advice in park literature about hydration, high altitude symptoms, wearing layers of clothing. We concluded our hiking at Alberta Falls trail, another popular trail in the park.
The third day was more relaxing as we took in a Wildflower Walk at Lily Lake. With Long's Peak looming in the distance, we appreciated the beauty of Colorado's native flowers. A highlight of this walk was seeing a hummingbird sitting on its nest in a pine tree. We returned to the Moraine Park area and were amazed at the cars entering at Beaver Meadows on a Sunday afternoon. It reminded me of the toll barriers at NYC bridges. IT was worth the wait when we saw a herd of bighorn sheep in one of the meadows and watched a mother and young one take their time crossing the road while traffic was at a standstill.
In all, we enjoyed and marveled at the peaks, the glacier valleys, the wildlife and awesome beauty in this national park.
From journal Estes Park - Gateway to Rocky Mountain NP
August 11, 2004
From journal Summer Honeymoon in the Rocky Mountains
by Bertha B
September 20, 2003
Backpacking through the Rockies is amazing. We saw every possible form of wildlife except a bear (which was fine with me). Many of the designated campsites have pit toilets. The trails are maintained but contain plenty of rocks, so it's often difficult to get a steady foothold.
We put in at Bear Lake, went over Flattop Mountain (12.5K feet), and into the west side of the park to follow a 40-mile loop that returned to Bear Lake. The scenery was diverse, as was the weather this time of year. Be sure and acclimate before strapping your pack on and heading over the mountain.
The rivers and waterfalls were breathtaking. There are numerous day hikes as well.
From journal Rocky Mountain High