Top Estes Park Hikes: Alpine Ridge Trail, Alberta Falls, Bear Lake Loop

April 30, 2021

Alpine Ridge Trail

A popular trail with visitors to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, the Alpine Ridge Trail is a brief but breathtaking hike for everyone. While the trail only extends about a third of a mile, it gains about 200 feet of elevation in that short distance. This makes for a steep jaunt that has been known to leave more than a few hikers catching their breath at the end. Luckily, the park renovated the trail with steps and a concrete trail ensuring that everyone can reach the top of the mountain to soak in a gorgeous panoramic view of the Rocky Mountains. As a flat stretch of tundra, the trail does get very even in the middle of the summer. Don’t forget your jacket!

Alpine Ridge Trail Trail Location: Alpine Visitor Center Round Trip Length: 0.6 miles Trailhead Elevation: 11,796 feet Total Elevation Gain: 209 feet Avg. Elev Gain / Mile: 697 feet Highest Elevation: 12,005 feet Trail Difficulty Rating: 1.02 (easy)

Alberta Falls

A quick and easy hike, the trip to Alberta Falls is one of the most popular options for visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park. After a brief trip from Estes Park to Bear Lake Road, the park even offers parking and a park shuttle to the trailhead. Once the hike begins, hikers can expect to see some of the most beautiful pine and aspen groves in the state of Colorado, demonstrating the majesty of this great state. In just less than a mile, the trail leads directly to the scenic Alberta Falls itself, a 30 foot waterfall on Glacier Creek. As one of the most popular hikes in the park, expect to share this great view with other hikers.

Alberta Falls Trail Location: Glacier Gorge Round Trip Length: 1.7 Miles Trailhead Elevation: 9240 feet Total Elevation Gain: 200 feet Avg. Elev Gain / Mile: 241 feet Highest Elevation: 9400 feet Trail Difficulty Rating: 2.06 (easy)

Bear Lake Loop

Bear Lake Loop Trail Location: Bear Lake Round Trip Length: 0.8 miles Trailhead Elevation: 9475 feet Total Elevation Gain: 45 feet Avg. Elev Gain / Mile: 113 feet Highest Elevation: 9520 feet Trail Difficulty Rating: 0.89 (easy)

Another popular spot off of Bear Lake Road, the Bear Lake Loop follows a trail around gorgeous Bear Lake. Due to its popularity in the park, it is also recommended that visitors from Estes Park and beyond take advantage of the park shuttle that can bring hikers directly to the trailhead. It’s also a good idea to consider coming earlier in the morning to beat the mid-day crowds. While the loop is a fairly easy hike, there are steep sections. Don’t forget to have a hearty breakfast before the hike to keep your energy up across the entire trail. The Rocky Mountain Conservancy has also published a booklet available at the trailhead that marks interesting points along the trail both about the park’s history and geographical information. With a natural forest of pines, firs, and aspens the loop balances the greenery the park is known for with the tranquility of Bear Lake. Hallett Peak, Longs Peak, and Half Mountain are also visible along the loop. Those with an eye for aesthetics can even catch the reflection of these mountains in the lake, making for an incredible sight. Bring the entire family along and share in Colorado’s natural beauty.