Just Right!

Which trail shall we hike today?  Let’s see… Saturday was an easy hike but more of a stroll than a hike and yesterdays hike to Bierstadt Lake proved to be more of a challenge than we expected.  I only later found out that it was the ‘unimproved’ trail to the lake.  The trail with the switchbacks was the one to take.  Who needs switchbacks when you can go straight up?Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National ParkThat said, for Monday’s hike, I wanted something in between.   Hmm,  I was feeling a little like Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  I needed to find that trail that was just right!  Not too hard, not too easy, but just right.

I studied the Rocky Mountain National Park brochure.  I reviewed the free trail map.  Still undecided, I perused my blogging in box.  Ah ha, found it.  A blog I follow featured some stunning photos taken in Rocky Mountain National Park.  His photos are so picturesque and beautiful that I felt compelled to lay my eyes on this amazing scenery.

However, before leaving the RV, Al wanted to review the map and info on the trail that I had planned for the day.  Apparently, he had no intention of following blindly like yesterday.  Gosh, I can’t imagine why especially after yesterday’s wonderful hike.  His response, “I just want to make sure you haven’t picked out another ‘easy straight up’ hike”.  Now would I do that?  wink, wink!

RV in ColoradoSo we were off to Dream Lake.  It was 8:00 a.m. on a Monday morning (August 18). We knew the Bear Lake Trailhead is the most popular in the entire park, but felt rather confident we wouldn’t have any trouble parking. I’d say half the campers at the Glacier Basin Campground vacated on Sunday and by Monday morning we found our campground half full, if that.

We figured if the campground was any indication on traffic within Rocky Mountain National Park, we’d be ok.  And sure enough, we arrived at the trailhead and had no problem parking.  We bypassed the quick walk to Bear Lake and quickly headed up the trail to Nymph Lake.  Rocky Mountain National ParkNymph Lake itself is beautiful and filled with lily pads with blooming yellow flowers.  This was as far as we hiked on Saturday, not wanting to experience a problem with the altitude.  The trail is easy to this point but does have a steady incline and starts at an elevation of 9,500 feet.

Bear Lake trailToday, there wouldn’t be any stopping or resting just yet.  I was on a mission that kept hubby and me hiking at a steady pace to Dream Lake.  No stroll this morning.

Rocky Mountain National ParkThere were already folks coming down the trail.  Yep, those are the photographers that are a tad more passionate and dedicated to photography than myself.  Oh, I occasionally have those moments too, but not this trip.  I’ll return at a time of year when the sun rises at about 7:00 a.m.  No wait …. won’t it be cold and snowy then?

On second thought, since the Roaming Lama already captured Dream Lake at sunrise for me, you can check it out here, I don’t feel badly about sleeping in.  And then this is what Dream Lake looks like when the sun is up and without snow.Rocky Mountain National Park

Ok, my photograph isn’t quite as dramatic as the Lama’s but the scenery is still breathtaking and so worth seeing in person ……… at anytime of the day.

Rocky Mountain National Park

the water is so clear at Dream Lake that you can see the trout swimming around

Rocky Mountain National Park

So far, today’s hike was so much easier than yesterday’s hike that we decided to continue on to Emerald Lake.  We passed waterfalls along the way.  The scenery between Dream Lake and Emerald Lake is not to be missed.

Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake

All alpine lakes are beautiful in my mind, but some are just more beautiful.  That said, we found Nymph Lake and Dream Lake the most breathtaking followed by Bear Lake and then Emerald Lake.Rocky Mountain National ParkwaterfallsOur hike was 3.6 miles round trip with a 605 foot elevation gain (taking us up over 10,000 feet).  It took us a total of about 3 hours round trip due to lots of stopping, sitting, chatting, and shutter snapping.  We had an absolutely fabulous day and I thought this was the prettiest, most enjoyable hike I have ever taken.  The only thing that would’ve made it perfect would’ve been a little more solitude.

If there is only one hike a visitor could take in Rocky Mountain National Park, THIS would be the one I’d recommend.  It was JUST RIGHT.  However, please dress and prepare for the environment.  I was shocked with the number of gals wearing flip-flops or folks not carrying water and we did see a couple of young (college age) people struggling with the altitude.  Altitude sickness is serious business and shouldn’t be poo pooed.

Although today’s hike was longer in mileage and higher in elevation gain than yesterday’s hike, we found it substantially easier.  The trail is well-groomed and the scenery ….. amazing.

Rocky Mountain National ParkI guess now I know why the Bear Lake trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park is the most popular.  I know I’ll be back!

Bear Lake

Bear Lake

Merrell Women’s Moab Ventilator Shoe,Smoke,9 M US
Columbia Sportswear Women’s Aruba Convertible Pant, Sage, Medium


67 thoughts on “Just Right!

  1. After hiking around on your blog – here and there, this morning – I know that I really want to stay right here: Dream Lake it is, for me. At least, if not “stay here” I certainly want to make some travel plans to this Rocky Mountain National Park. Thank you Ingrid. (And I do think your awesome photo of Dream Lake is the equal of the Lama’s awesome pic. I’ve looked, and love them both.)

    • Aw, thank you…. you are too kind. There’s lots of great lodging accommodations in Estes Park if you’re not a camper. Twenty-five years ago when we were still living in northern Illinois we visited CO for our anniversary and stayed at the famous Stanley Hotel in Estes Park…. that’s worth a Google. RMNP is definitely a must see 🙂

    • I’ve been having issues with my feet and had been shopping all over Denver for some hiking shoes that would keep me on the trails longer and these fit the bill. I love them and the pants are great for hiking. Just the right weight. 🙂

  2. You’re killing me with these gorgeous pictures and stories – making me want to leave all the spreadsheets, expense reports, grant reviews and everything all behind me! I can figure out how to pay for gas somehow LOL.

    • Hey, if you figure out how to pay for all the gas let me know LOL. When we embarked on this journey, we did it on a whim and threw caution to the wind. No regrets….. until the money runs out!

  3. I’ve had the great fortune to camp in Rocky Mountain National Park twice. It is truly a gem of our National Park System. Pick a trail. Any trail. You really cannot go wrong. I hop you can stay there for a while. Enjoy!

    • You are so right John – I don’t think there could be a bad hiking trail in the park. We had a truly wonderful time and can’t wait to return 🙂

  4. We had a fabulous hike on this same trail, except we did it all the same day, except for Emerald Lake. We ran out of time and still wanted to make another hike before we had to leave. Your pics are great. Maybe I will just direct readers to your post when telling about our day! 😉

  5. Good word! Those sceneries are straight from a painter’s frame. Dream Lake is indeed a dreamy destination to go to. Stunning nature’s best, Ingrid. I’m at awe with what the things you see.
    Oh yeah, I always pick the easiest trails. 😀

    • This was a great trail. The climb in elevation might be a challenge for some folks. We found ourselves stopping so much we barely noticed. Rocky Mountain National Park should go on your ‘must see’ list 🙂

  6. Lovely, lovely, lovely.

    We, too, have see people with flip flops, babies on their backs, ect. We have also seen some of these same people turn around and go back. Crazy.

    • It is a beautiful place and oh yes Marsha…. the babies. Babies in carriers and small children walking (and crying). When our kids were little, we exposed them to hiking and camping but thought twice of the length and environment. Some of these folks have no clue what they were getting into and what could happen.

  7. absolutely beautiful – thank you for sharing your adventures – I shared the photos with W and he agreed – amazing. AND… I agree with Judy (above) makes me want to slap on my boots and go for a hike.. have a great week and I look forward to your installment of the west according to Ingrid.. .. can’t wait!

    • I’m ready to head back up there myself but alas obligations won’t allow. Hopefully I can get in some other great hikes before I head south for the winter. It is stunning country…. perhaps a family vacation to the Rockies is warranted next summer 🙂

  8. Thank you for taking us along on this beautiful national park hike! I felt a lot more relaxed after reading your post and gazing at those gorgeous photos. Simply wonderful.

    • Glad you enjoyed the hike. If you ever get a chance to do it, I highly recommend even though it’s popular. It was indeed ‘wonderful’ 🙂

  9. That was too funny, Ingrid! I agree, why take the nicely managed switchback trail when one can plow through the bush!!! Al is a smart man! Of course, I am the trail planner, as well, and have gotten into some situations, too.

    We hiked to Loch Lake while there two years ago. That was a beautiful hike and not too bad with nice up and downs. We did have snow to cross but it will be gone now. It was a beautiful spot.

    • I did remember when you hiked to Loch Lake. As a matter of fact, I used your blog as reference for some ideas. I was glad we didn’t have any snow or forest fires to contend with. I’m already longing to explore more trails 🙂

  10. Ingrid, that does look like the perfect hike, in every way! The scenery is just spectacular. I’m also amazed at people hiking in flip flops, without water — we’ve seen the same thing in Moab. Even saw a group of women trying to hike in high heels — that was a sight. (They didn’t make it very far…)

  11. Since we don’t hike anymore, I appreciate getting to see the back county through the blogs of those of you who do. Your shots are great and now I’m going to check those of the Lama and the Google Earth view of your hike.

    • Stunning country that I did not get enough time exploring. I was so rapped up in the scenery that the photography came second. Guess I’ll just have to go back and focus on the photos!

    • I never tire of visits to these alpine lakes. I’m a water person and wish I could park the RV near the shores of one of these beauties 🙂

  12. Great photos Ingrid, particularly the alpine lakes and waterfalls. I will have to add this to the list of hikes to do when we get there. Several years ago I discovered I am prone to altitude sickness as it hit me at 11,000 feet when hiking Mt. Humphrey in Flagstaff. It will be interesting to see how I do when we get to Colorado. We did a hike yesterday that was only 4 miles but certainly the most challenging we have done recently, with lots of boulder-hopping and stream crossings more times than I could count. It was great fun!

    • I look forward to hearing all about the hike with boulder hopping and stream crossing. I’ve noticed I had a little more issues with the altitude on this trip. Maybe I need to spend more time in RMNP and acclimate. Hmm, I’ll have to see if I can make that happen next summer 🙂

  13. Since Den and I take our walks before our morning coffee, we would probably carry water AND coffee for a rest stop!! Beautiful scenery!!! Have you ever encountered any bears on your hikes? That is the one thing I worried about in Alaska when wandering out along the Salmon streams..

    • Oh trust me, I was drinking my coffee on the way to the trailhead but with no potties and lots of people in the backcountry, I kept an eye on that fluid intact 😉 Haven’t encountered any bear in the west. We did plenty during our time in northern MN. But up there, they’re little and not intimidating. Co sure is beautiful country!

  14. Looks like a beautiful hike! I have those hiking shoes and just love them! I also use them for disc golf and going on nature walks. Not as difficult as a hike but you could still sprain an ankle. Plus I have a similar type of hiking pants.

    • I just got those hiking shoes last month and I’m very pleased with them. I even wore them when we did a 2 hour hike around downtown Denver. It’s great when I find shoes and clothes that are comfy so I can focus on the beautiful surroundings.

    • I do enjoy my first cup of coffee in bed (between 6 and 6:30) and slowly meander around until 8 when we’ll finally get going on the days adventure. I think next summer we’d like to spend a month in Grand Lake so I’ll be reviewing your blog for recommendations 🙂

    • I felt one of the waterfalls we saw that day was absolutely perfect…. framed by tuffs of wildflowers with mountain peaks as a back drop. I just couldn’t get to the right angle to photograph it properly. So very pretty!

  15. Legs of steel and lungs of gold….impressive!!! AL is such a trooper and you captured it beautifully. What memories you are making!!!

    • Thank you. Reviewing the photos has ME wanting to strap on those boots and hit those trails again. I’m already looking forward to next summers hike.

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