There are a number of great trails in Rocky Mountain, so you are sure to see incredible landscapes, no matter which trail you choose. For a comprehensive list of our favorite hikes in Rocky Mountain, click here. Before heading out on a hike, read Rocky Mountain’s trail conditions. Below are the best hikes in Rocky Mountain, if you only have one day:
1. LONGS PEAK: Arguably the most famous peak in Rocky Mountain National Park, Longs Peak stands at 14,259 feet, making it the tallest peak in the park. Because of the popularity, the length of the trail, and the difficulty, an early morning start is essential to a successful summit—most recommend starting at 3 am. From the trailhead—located off Highway 7 outside the park, hike uphill, staying left at the fork. Above the treeline, the trail gets a little dicey and dissipates, so follow the markers. You should know that this trail requires scrambling and route finding, and contains exposure and steep ridge traverses. The trail is steep and daunting, and not for the faint of heart, but once you get to that summit, let the celebration begin. You can see forever with unparalleled views, and you gain bragging rights for bagging the tallest peak in the park.
2. CHASM LAKE: Chasm Lake is situated at the base of Longs Peak sheer wall called The Diamond. It is a clear, pristine lake, surrounded by granite mountains, and on a clear day, you may be able to watch as rock climbers attempt to scale The Diamond to Longs Peak. The trail to Chasm Lake begins at Longs Peak trailhead, after crossing the treeline, follow signs for Chasm Lake, and traverse along the cliff’s edge until you reach the final ascent for the lake. Make sure you save yourself enough time to eat lunch and enjoy this incredible view before making your way back down to the trailhead.
3. BEAR LAKE TRAIL: Bear Lake Trail takes you on a ½ mile loop around Bear Lake, or you can hike to Emerald Lake, passing Nymph and Dream Lakes along the way. Emerald Lake is a stunning alpine lake located beneath the Continental Divide, views of Hallett Peak, Tyndall Glacier and Flattop Mountains are in the distance; it is a 3 mile roundtrip hike.
4. GLACIER GORGE: Glacier Gorge is a sub-alpine valley, and the hike contains picturesque scenery of waterfalls, meadows, alpine lakes, glaciers and mountain cirques. From the trailhead, you will pass Alberta Falls and continue up to Loch Vale—an absolutely stunning granite cirque towering above the pristine alpine lake. After, you can push on to Sky Pond, which is beautiful and rewarding, with views of glaciers; however, this requires scrambling up sometimes slippery rocks. It is a 9.8-mile hike to Sky Pond and back.
5. ODESSA GORGE: Odessa Gorge is a 9-mile roundtrip hike that takes you from Bear Lake to the canyon of Odessa Gorge, scattered with pristine lakes of it’s own. From the trailhead, the trail is mostly downhill, and you will find yourself in a world of mountain spires towering over alpine lakes. Views of Little Matterhorn, Notchtop and Knobtop Mountains, all at over 12,000 feet are in the distance. Make sure you give yourself to eat a lunch and enjoy the scenery before heading back to the trailhead.
6. MOUNT CHIQUITA: Mount Chiquita is a strenuous 5 mile hike from Chapin Pass Trailhead. From the trailhead, hike up toward Chapin Pass Summits, and after 1.5 miles, you will reach the saddle. The trail becomes steep and exposed, and then all but vanishes once you get closer to the top. At the summit, you are rewarded with phenomenal views of Longs Peak, the Mummy Range, the Gore Range and the Indian Peaks. From Mount Chiquita, you can continue on to Mount Ypsilon, which will add another 3 miles onto your trip.
7. WILD BASIN TRAIL: Wild Basin Trail is a great day hike because there are many destinations, at varying distances, guaranteeing a delightful hike. At 5.5 miles, you can reach Copeland, Calypso and Ouzel Falls—powerful and cascading, these waterfalls are a great turn around point for someone with less time. Or, you can continue hiking past Ouzel Falls, to the breathtaking Ouzel Lake. Consider spending the night on a portered camping trip.