Late September in northern Colorado can be summed up in one word: Golden.
Cooler temperatures and shorter days bring out the best in Rocky Mountain National Park. Visitors from all over flock to see the bright yellow aspen trees. Traffic backs up as everyone stops to glimpse the majestic elk herds returning to the valleys. Today we’re sharing our list of “The Best Fall Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park” to help you plan your next visit. There’s no better time than September and October to take in all the park has to offer.
The Best Fall Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park
- The Loch Vale Trail – The Loch Vale Trail is a short distance (roundtrip 5.7 miles), but moderately challenging elevation hike (ending at 10,190 feet). It ends at The Loch, one of the hidden sub-alpine lakes in Rocky Mountain. Nestled among the snow-capped peaks, it’s a great hike to start early in the morning and to pack a picnic lunch to eat at The Loch. The downhill hike back to the trailhead is swift and makes for a solid afternoon on the trail.
Mount Ida Trail
Not quite ready for a Colorado Fourteener but still want to tackle some serious elevation gain? The Mount Ida Trail departs from Trail Ridge Road along the Continental Divide. Take the challenge and travel through sub-alpine forest, above the tree-line up to 12,889 feet. At the top stop to appreciate the stunning 360° views of the golden valleys below.
The Fern Lake Trail
The Fern Lake Trail is a good choice for all members of your hiking crew. With just over 200 feet of elevation gain, it is relatively flat compared to most hiking in the park. More experienced hikers will enjoy the multiple options to add length of difficulty to the out-and-back hike.
Alpine Ridge Trail
Want a top-of-the-world experience? Depart on this short trail out the Alpine Visitor’s Center parking area for spectacular views of the snow-capped summits all around. Just be sure to watch the weather. Snowstorms approach quickly in the fall, making travel to the Alpine area difficult.
Upper Beaver Meadows Trail
If you want gorgeous fall colors and the chance to see elk, the Upper Beaver Meadows Trail is a good place to start. The round-trip 5 mile loop hike departs from the Moraine Park area. The views of Longs Peak and Deer Mountain can’t be beat.
If you’re looking for a place to camp in Rocky Mountain during the fall, check out our post on Camping in the Moraine Park Campground.