Top Estes Park Hikes: Sprague Lake Loop, Blue Lake, Lake Isabelle
May 22, 2021
The Sprague Lake Loop is one of the easiest and most scenic destinations in Rocky Mountain National Park. Less than a mile around, the loop trail is coated in packed gravel and is flat almost the entire way around. This makes it a leisurely trail for the entire family. Besides the ease of the hike, Sprague Lake is also one of the most scenic views in the park offering a gorgeous look out of the lake and perfect vantages of the Continental Divide, Half Mountain, and other mountains in the area. If the family is looking to visit early in the morning, photographers can even catch these mountains reflected in the lake’s waters. Due to the low difficulty, gorgeous scenery, and proximity to Estes Park many other hikers and fishermen may be present so plan to arrive early.
Blue Lake is a gorgeous alpine lake located in the Glacier Gorge that can be reached by a cross-country hike. While Blue Lake is the easiest of the alpine lakes to reach cross-country, the hike is highly determinant one’s sense of direction and ability to navigate multiple off-trail areas. For those willing to take the adventure on, hikers can expect to see Mills Lake, Blake Lake, Ribbon Falls, and some incredible forested areas on the way to Blue Lake. You’d be hard-pressed to find a hike this short with as many scenic stops along the way. Once Blue Lake is reached, you’ll take in one of the most clear and engrossing lakes in the park. Expect plenty of wind even in the summer. Remember a jacket and plenty of water!
Lake Isabelle lies in the Niwot Ridge and provides a fairly straightforward hike from the Long Lake Trailhead. Passing through a pine forest, hikers may even have the opportunity to catch a glimpse of a moose, as the area between Long Lake and Lake Isabelle is rife with these incredible animals. Once hikers reach the Jean Lunning Trail junction, turn right and follow the path towards Lake Isabelle. If time is not much of an issue, once the junction is reached on the return trip it is a great idea to explore the other side of the junction and soak up some more of the incredible views on display. Lake Isabelle itself is easily reached from a rock outcropping and boasts more majestic mountain views. Important to note is the fact that Lake Isabelle is a reservoir drained every August, so water levels may not be at capacity or even always present. For an easier hike with a view, this hike is hard to pass up.