If you’re looking for an accessible, easy, and free hike in Rocky Mountain National Park, Lily Lake would be a good choice. The lake is located about five miles south of Estes Park on Highway 7. The parking area, trailhead, restrooms, picnic tables, and a fishing pier are just steps from road at about 9,000 feet above sea level. The one mile long trail hugs the shores of the lake, is well maintained, flat, and wide.
For a little bit more of a challenge and great views of the Rocky Mountain National Park’s highest peaks, Long’s Peak (14,259) and Mt. Meeker (13,911), visitors can take the Lily Ridge Trail. The Lily Ridge Trail starts at the lake parking area and runs 1.1 miles along the ridge before rejoining the lake trail.
Pets and bikes are prohibited on the trails. Catch and release fly fishing for the native greenback cutthroat trout is allowed.
A little history on the Lily Lake shore
Enos A. Mills, called the “Father of Rocky Mountain National Park“, once had a cabin by Lily Lake. Mills led the effort to have the area made into a national park. He made forty solo trips to the top of Longs Peak and another 300 as a guide. His first ascent up the 14’er was at age 15, shortly after moving to Colorado from Kansas.