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Old 04-21-2012, 05:58 PM
 
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Planning to go to RMNP this week (free admission!)

Can anyone suggest some nice hikes not far from the Estes Park side of the Park?

Thanks.
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Old 04-21-2012, 08:25 PM
 
Location: Ned CO @ 8300'
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Cub Lake is a favorite: ProTrails.com: Trail - Cub Lake, Cub Lake Trailhead, Rocky Mountain National Park
We were there last weekend, didn't do the entire hike so I don't know what conditions are like further along the trail.
There is construction on the road to Bear Lake so I'd avoid that area.
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Old 04-23-2012, 04:25 PM
 
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Wink Possible hikes in RMNP

I'll second the Cub Lake hike. It is a pleasant excursion, although really one better done this time of year than later when more crowded. This hike is all the more spectacular if continuing beyond Cub Lake to crest the summit of that trail, and then drop down to join the trail along the Big Thompson river.

Once at this summitóbut before dropping down to where the trail is more over-shadowed and hidden, all cooleróthere are magnificent views of the Big Thompson river canyon far below and the spectacular snow-capped peaks just to the west.

One will join the trail paralleling the Big Thompson river very near the landmark in it called The Pool. In turning downriver, it is a lovely hike back with this river cascading down to one's right, the trail winding down through heavy trees, and rock formations in places. It is lovely all the way; but also one of the trails with heaviest travel in its lower reaches in summer (and to a degree, winter, for that matter).

There are a couple parking options near the trailhead where the trail for Cub Lake cuts south at the edge of the Moraine Valley, before veering more west and up into the mountains proper. If parking there, and then hiking this loop, expect to reemerge at the Fern Lake trailhead, and then walking along this dirt road until at last reaching your vehicle. This portion of road is closed to vehicles in the winter (but may well be open now). If so, one might also use the parking area at the far end of this road, and then begin by hiking back along this road to the Cub Lake trailhead (and therefore save some hiking at the end of the trip). If thinking of just continuing on from the Fern Lake trailhead in a counterclockwise direction, one could; but it is in some respects a hike more pleasurably done via Cub Lake first (and if headed counterclockwise, check your bearings, as the cutoff to Cub Lake will not be as obvious as if coming down the trail from it).

There may be some snow still in places on the trail to or above Cub Lake, as well as possibly within the heavier tree cover along the Big Thompson river. But given this season, probably not much if any issue. This should be a fine time to make such an excursion (although as always, do check the weather forecast in advance).

If wishing instead to do one of the beautiful hikes from the trailhead at Bear Lake, it will certainly be less crowded than in summer. Although at that elevation, you probably can expect some snow. Present road construction closes the road to public use between 8pm to 6am; Sunday through Thursday.

Alternately, you could travel to the far end of the Endo Valley, and have a picnic at the lovely picnic area in the woods there, along the ever so lovely Fall river. For hiking, one could make their way into the meadow, but the more obvious hike might be up the Old Fall River Road. It is presently closed to vehicles for the winter (probably not reopening until June), but it is entirely possible and permissible to walk past the gate there and continue up this dirt road. One distinct advantage this time of year is that one will more or less have the road to themselves (and sans all vehicles). If as adventurous, then make your way up this road as far as Chasm Falls; it is a unique and beautiful spot, and reliably overrun with tourists all summer. Once there, it will naturally be all downhill in hiking back to the picnic area. There isn't any snow on the lower reaches of this road, and although certainly so higher up (and why still closed), a good chance little to none to at least Chasm Falls.
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Old 04-23-2012, 11:06 PM
 
Location: SE Portland, OR
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I really like Twin Sisters, but you can actually hike/park at the trailhead for free, as the trail goes in and out of the Park and National Forest land. The route has pretty good vertical, and some spectacular views on the top. On the other side is the Estes Cone, which is also a pretty cool hike, and usually less busy than Twin Sisters. They are both at least half a day hikes, and not far from Estes.
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Old 04-24-2012, 07:48 PM
 
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Thanks for the ideas. We went today and did the Cub Lake hike. There were some spots on the trail with snow, but not bad, with the exception of going around the far side of Cub Lake in error, following the campground sign, as snow covered the trail at the split.

Weather was perfect, maybe even a little too warm for long pants today
Lots of elk in the meadow near the start of the trail and lots of deer everywhere.

Also, the park was deserted and we only had a 5 minute stop for the road construction. Great day!
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