Elk on Lake Estes Colorado

Hiking Trails in Colorado | Lake Estes Trail

Trail Information

Trail Name: Lake Estes TrailHiking Trails in Colorado Lake Estes Trail

Location: Estes Park, Colorado

Date: May 10, 2020

Time at the Trail Head: 6:00 am

Trail Length: 3.8 miles

Elevation Gain: 190 feet

Elev. at Trail Head: 7,531 feet

# of Hikers Passed: 22

# of Mnt. Bikers Passed: 0

# of Horses Passed: 0

Mosquitoes: 0

Trail Research

With all the Covid-19 restrictions and with Mother’s Day approaching, I thought it would be a great idea to take a trip to Estes Park to let my wife get out and check out some of here favorite stores in Estes Park, even if we can’t go set down and have lunch or dinner on Mother’s Day.

The trail research was easy as I knew I wanted to hike/walk around the lake.

Estes Park Colorado

The weather was a little more of a problem as it has been cloudy and rainy all week, pretty much all around the state, except for southwest Colorado, but I did find one morning where it was going to be clear from around 7 am to noon, so I made my plans and woke up early to be at Estes Lake at sunrise.

Drive to the Trail

The drive was not so spectacular this time because, not only was it dark out, but it was also foggy for most of the drive, which is nerve racking, due to all the Elk out along this drive from Boulder to Estes Park. I did get some nice pictures of the drive as I left Estes Park, but instead of driving to the East, the way I came in, I left to the south, towards Nederland.

Estes Park Colorado

Estes Park Colorado Drive

Estes Park Colorado Drive

Now, let’s get to the early part of the day when I started my hike/walk around Lake Estes.

My Day on the Trail

The clouds had started to clear on the pass coming into Estes Park from the town of Lyons, but as you can see, the clouds are still in the town of Estes Park below.

Drive to Estes Park Colorado

It was in fact cloudy and foggy when I reached the Estes Lake trailhead so I slept for 30 minutes, hoping the clouds would clear. It finally started to look lighter in the sky, through the clouds, so I took that as a sign that it was time to start my hike.

Hiking Trails in Colorado Estes Park Colorado

The fog was still sitting low near the ground but the wind was light and I could tell this was going to be a gorgeous morning in Estes Park.

Estes Lake Colorado

I noticed that with the light wind, I was going to have some great reflections on the lake. I knew it was going to take another 30 minutes for the clouds to begin dissipating, so I slowed down and enjoyed watching Lake Estes wake up.

Estes Lake Colorado

I finally saw the first glimpse of the sun over the eastern side of Lake Estes.

Lake Estes Sunrise

I kept turning around and looking for the first glimpse of some snow packed peaks and more of the sun rising, while taking more pictures of the reflections on the water.

Lake Estes Colorado

There is a nice golf course on the north side of lake Estes, called Lake Estes 9-Hole Golf Course. It provided some beautiful photos in the morning light. You can also see Fall River flowing into Lake Estes.

Fall River Estes Park Colorado

Fall River and Lake Estes Golf Course

There is a concrete trail all around Lake Estes and plenty of places to stop and enjoy the magnificent views.

Lake Estes Colorado

There is a beautiful pedestrian bridge on the north side of the lake between Fall River and Lake Estes.

Fall River Colorado

There’s also a peninsula off to the right of the bridge that will give you some great vantage points on the Lake.

Estes Lake Colorado

I was also able to catch the rising sun’s reflection off the lake out on the peninsula.

Lake Estes Sunrise

The thing I loved most about this morning hike around Lake Estes was watching the sunrise and the valley come to life.

Sunrise on Lake Estes

You can also get your first glimpse of some snow packed peaks in the photo above.

I was finally back on the path, heading east, but not before capturing a few more beautiful photos.

Fall River and Lake Estes Golf Course

Lake Estes Golf Course

The fog was really starting to lift now and you could catch more glimpses of the blue morning sky.

Lake Estes Colorado

This morning kept getting better and better.

Lake Estes Sunrise

I finally saw the mountains on the southeast side of Lake Estes through what looked to be a hole in the cloud.

Sunrise over Lake Estes Colorado

It was at this point that the skies really began to clear and reveal some majestic views in the valley.

Majestic Lake Estes Sunrise

Lake Estes Sunrise

Estes Park Sunrise

I knew there were a lot of elk in the area around Estes Park, and I was pleasantly surprised when I ran into a small herd of elk at the Lake Estes Marina.

Elk at Lake Estes

The clouds were nearly gone as I reached the east side of Lake Estes. You have to walk down below the dam on the east side before walking back up to the road on the south side of the Lake.

Fall River Downstream of Lake Estes

This is where I started getting some grand views of the mountains on the north side of Lake Estes as the clouds had completely lifted off the lake. This first photo is of the mountains south of Estes Park.

Estes Park Colorado

Lake Estes Colorado

You can see the Lake is still very calm with some great reflections.

Lake Estes, Estes Park, Colorado

My kids have told me that you can see an Indian laying down across the lake in the next photo. The Indian’s head is to the right and the feet are to the left.

Resting Indian at Lake Estes

The have been to summer camp many times in the summers over the last 6 years here, so I’m sure they heard that from one of the camp counselors.

I want to show you the next photo of nearly the same shot but within 10 minutes, the wind had picked up and the mirrored reflections on the lake were mostly gone. This is another reason I love starting my hikes early in the day.

Lake Estes Reflections Gone

I’m not sure if you know this but much of the movie, “The Shining” was filmed at the white hotel here in Estes Park.

The Shining

You can see the Stanley Hotel on the left side of the above photo and better in the photo below.

The Shining in Estes Park Colorado

I was getting closer to my truck and the trailhead but there were still a few great photo ops remaining.

Lake Estes Colorado

I was about to put my camera up when I noticed a bird perch high up in the sky and what I believe to be an American Eagle.

American Eagle Perch

I tried to get a closer look and I’m pretty confident this is an American Bald Eagle sitting on top.

American Bald Eagle

Trail Recommendations

This is not really a hike but I still strongly recommend taking this 3.4 mile walk around Lake Estes, early in the morning, followed by some shopping and dinning in Estes Park.

This is truly an amazing place to visit.

Lessons Learned

Early morning hikes are the best times to get out in Colorado.

Bring some binoculars in case you see some elk or possibly an American Bald Eagle.

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  • 【18mm Large Eyepiece Binoculars, Larger Image, Clearer Details】2.25 times the image size of 12mm eyepiece binoculars (e.g. 10x25, 12x25, 10x21 compact binoculars). Large eyepiece makes full use of 12x magnification, deliver larger image, ensure clearer details
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Check out this short video of the Lake Estes Trail on YouTube.

I would love to know if you have had any experience on this trail or have other trails you love to hike. Leave a Comment Below or send me an Email.

 

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Lake Estes Trail

9.8

Scenic Drive

10.0/10

Accessibility

10.0/10

Mountain Views

9.5/10

Lake or Stream Views

9.5/10

Well Maintained Trails

10.0/10

Pros

  • Easy Access
  • Grand Views
  • Incredible Drive
  • Gorgeous Lake Views
  • Estes Park

Cons

  • Not Really a Hike
  • Traffic Can Get Heavy

2 thoughts on “Hiking Trails in Colorado | Lake Estes Trail”

  1. What a gorgeous site! I just love Colorado – mostly familiar with the SW corner of the state, but anywhere near the Rockies is wonderful. Your photos are beautiful and the video gives depth and dimension to your excursion. I would be lost without the map. That’s very helpful too. I like your items for purchase on a separate page as opposed to being scattered all over your page presentations. Very nice!

    1. Thank you for the kind words. I too, love the southwest part of Colorado. One of my favorite places is Pagosa Springs. I am planning on hiking more trails in that area in the next three months.

      Let me know if you go on any hikes or have any favorite hikes in Colorado.

      Rick

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