Colorado is one of our most diverse and lovely states for outdoor winter recreation. The western half of the state tends to have extreme snow falls in the high reaches of the Rocky Mountains. The eastern half of the state has lighter weather, but often blizzards that arise without little warning.
Here are several top area’s to hike this wintertime at the Rocky Mountain National Park which is a very popular winter hiking destination in the state. It offers many diverse trails that range from easy to difficult. If you want to enjoy a winter hike this season then the Park is the ideal place.
When hiking the Rocking Mountain National Park it is best to stay at the lower elevations below the 8700 mark. This lower area tends to not get large amounts of snow and the hiking trails remain open. The higher that you go in elevation in the park the more extreme weather. The Park has a reputation at higher elevations to have severe arctic blizzards that sweep in with little or no warning. These extreme storms will be accompanied by high winds, low visibility, and large amounts of snow. If caught in one of these winter conditions it can easily prove deadly as a person will easily loose their bearings and become lost. So please stick only to the lower trails where it will be safer during the winter time.
It is best to plan to pack overnight equipment that will sustain -35 degrees even if you hike in the lower areas and stay away from the top reaches. This will best insure survival if you should become stranded during a freak storm. Remember that it is better to always be prepared then caught off guard. Mother Nature obeys no ones rules but Her own so the weather can often prove dangerous even at lower elevations if you are not prepared.
Trails Within The Rocky Mountain National Park
1) The Pool
The area called The Pool is widely hiked in the park. The elevation is 8,280 feet. The trail begins at road closure on Moraine Park Road past Cub Lake Trail head. Once there follow the signs that direct you to Fern Lake Trail head.
The trail tends to be relatively flat and easy to traverse. The trail head is called The Pool area because of a stretch of turbulent white water created by the converging Spruce and Fern Creeks with the Big Thompson River.
This is a lovely trail head that features frozen water falls, beaver dams, and gorgeous cliffs.
2) Gem Lake
This trail head is higher then the 8700 mark so be prepared for extreme weather and pack for survival.
To reach the trail head go onto the Twin Owls Drive north from downtown Estes Park on MacGregor Avenue. You will cross Hwy. 34 bypass and continue to a sharp right turn. What closely for the sign for MacGregor Ranch. Follow the blacktop ranch road to the parking lot for the trail head.
This is a moderately hard trail that will take you the ancient glacial lake of Gem. The views are spectacular.
3) Upper Beaver Meadows
To reach the trail head go onto Upper Beaver Meadows Road From Park Headquarters You will drive drive 2 miles and look for the closed gate on the west side of the road in a hairpin curve. You will need to park off the road surface on gravel.
This trail heads elevation is 8300 feet. It is a easy trail head to enjoy. There are two trails to enjoy here that loop around to the parking lot. Its a wonderful place to view winter wildlife.
4) Cub Lake
To reach the trail head take Cub Lake From Bear Lake Road, turn at Moraine Park. You will follow the signs to Cub Lake Trail head.
This is a moderately difficult trail. The elevation is 8,960 feet so remember to prepare for unexpected extreme winter weather. The trail head begins Big Thompson River. Many people find the hike enjoyable until the last mile when it becomes extreme and might require skis or snow shoes to complete.
All of these hikes are enjoyable but you must be careful because the weather can often prove unpredictable and extreme. Pack layers of clothes. Keep your extremities covered and safe from frostbite. Always let others know exactly where you will be and let the Park know that you will be hiking the trail head you choose.