Why we love it: For most Coloradans, this is a lazy one-mile stroll. Sometimes, that’s exactly what we are in the mood for.

When to go: As anyone who has driven up U.S. 36 on a summer or fall weekend can tell you, Estes Park and RMNP get a tad bit crowded. Head up in the spring to avoid the swarm of tourists.


Saturday’s cloudy skies meant that I spent more time trolling pictures than hiking. That’s why I stumbled across some photos from a May 2006 hike around RMNP’s Lily Lake. Calling this smooth, flat path a “hike” is a stretch, but the last time I traversed it, I was visiting the Centennial State from sea level, and I could barely catch my breath in a grocery store parking lot, let alone in the mountains.

That day was rainy too, but the clouds lifted long enough for a quick jaunt around the lake. There were views of Mount Meeker in the distance and plenty of delicate Pasque flowers peeking through the thawed ground. On a rainy Saturday six years later, after reminiscing over the photos, I think it is time for a return trip.

Getting there: Take U.S. 36 north to Estes Park before heading south on Highway 7. The trail is about six miles south of town.

Natasha Gardner
Natasha Gardner
Natasha Gardner is a Denver-based writer and the former Articles Editor for 5280.