Hiking in the fall in Rocky Mountain National Park is absolutely world-class. With the aspens glowing gold, and the wildlife in rut, you are sure to experience something like never before. The best way to capture the magnificence of autumn is on one of the many trails that take you up high and rewards you with views that overlook the valleys and plains below. Some of the best hiking trails in the fall include:
1. Loch Vale:
Starting from Glacier Gorge Trailhead, you will hike past Alberta Falls at .5 miles. This impressive 30-foot waterfall cascades down into Glacier Creek, depending on the amount of rainfall for the season. As you continue on, the trail becomes fairly steep with switchbacks that let you look over the side to the gorge below. In fall, this gorge is colored gold with aspens. Once you reach Loch Vale, you are treated to the impressive lake, but also to incredible views looking down from this subalpine environment. This is one of the best hikes to do in autumn.
2. Deer Mountain:
The first mile of this trail, you will be trekking through open meadows, speckled with aspens and fall foliage. There is a great chance of seeing elk and deer in this area, especially as they have entered the rut season. As the trail continues towards the summit, it gets steeper and steeper; but it will all pay off in the end when you are at the top looking down on the plains below. The views from the top of Deer Mountain are extraordinary, and give you great perspective on how big Rocky Mountain National Park really is.
3. Bear Lake to Fern Lake:
Hiking from Bear Lake to Fern Lake (or vice versa), you will get to see a variety of landscape. The trail passes Lake Helene, Odessa Lake, Fern Lake, Marguerite Falls and Fern Falls. There is a good chance to see wildlife along the path, as well as fall foliage. You can use the free park shuttle bus to get from the end of the trail back to your vehicle at the trailhead.
4. Ouzel Lake:
From the trailhead, you will pass Copeland Falls, at just over .5 miles. The trail follows Ouzel Creek, and offers great hiking through meadows, and passes Calypso Cascades and Ouzel Falls. As you hike uphill from Ouzel Falls, you are treated to great views of Longs Peak and Mount Meeker. The trail will dip down toward the valley floor before gradually climbing back up the lake. Ouzel Lake is known to be one of the best fishing locations in the park, with its large greenback cutthroat trout population
5. Lone Pine Lake:
Soon after starting the trail, you will reach East Meadow—where East Inlet Creek meanders along, moose can often be seen, and Mount Cairns, Mount Craig and Mount Wescott are towering in the distance. This is an incredible hike characterized by wildlife, big open meadows, waterfalls and rivers. After 5.5 miles, you will reach Lone Pine Lake; there are many places to sit and enjoy the view on the southwestern edge of the lake.