Now, it might seem that I am focusing too much on Rocky Mountain National Park. However, how many colleges can say they are an hour away from a national park? We got it made. Take advantage.
This weekend, I recommend the Park’s Lawn Lake. It sits on the northern end of the park. The Mummy Range wreaths around it and serves as an astounding backdrop as you catch your breath from the trek up.
The trail is a jaunty 6 miles — one-way — with an evenly spread 2,439 feet of elevation gain. Great for a full day hike, or, if you are crazy, an epic trail run.
You’ll start just southeast of the alluvial fan and climb up into the ravine where Roaring River runs. Yes, that is the actual name of the river. Through the trees, you should get a great aerial view of the Alluvial fan, the site where a large dam broke uphill and carried a field of boulders down into Endovalley.
This makes up the first mile of the hike. The remaining 5 miles pretty much sticks to the banks of the Roaring River, except for a few switchbacks up the eastern slope of the ravine.
You’ll pass a few waterfalls and cut through some aspen groves. It might be worth another visit once they turn gold.
The last half-mile is really flat and easier on the legs, but remember you’ll still have six miles going the other way.
Once you get there, relax by the water and take in the intricate cliffs of the Mummy Range and the haze of the distant Front Range. You might also see some trout swerving about under the lake’s surface.
The best part of this trail is that you can continue on. If you are an utterly hopeless outdoor junky, trek on another one-and-a-half miles and 529 feet of elevation to Crystal Lake. Or make like a honey badger and go another three miles and 2,570 feet to Hagues peak. It’s almost a 14er.
To get there, take Taft Hill Road, Shields Street or College Avenue to Loveland. Turn right onto Highway 34 (Eisenhower Blvd.) and drive all the way up to Estes Park. Continue on Highway 34 and enter the park through the Fall River entrance. Turn right on Old Fall River Road and pull into the Lawn Lake Trailhead on your right.
The pass at the ranger station will cost you $20. However, it is good for a week. So save it for next week’s recommendation.