The mountains are where I belong.
Convenient that I ended up in Colorado, no?
Okay, “ended up” probably isn’t the right term. It took me years and a lot of effort to finally make it here. But for good reason! I’m definitely a mountain girl at heart.
I’ve really enjoyed the National Parks Service’s #FindYourPark campaign. It has encouraged so many people to finally get out to see the parks. But for me, it has never been about finding my park. Rocky Mountain National Park has always been it.
Maybe it’s because RMNP the park I associate with Colorado. Maybe because I grew up visiting my grandparents who lived 15 minutes away from the Grand Lake entrance. Or maybe it’s because RMNP is the park I’ve visited the most often.
Whatever the reason, I’ve always been particularly drawn to the rockies and having just picked up the annual pass, I can’t wait to get out there more often!
Last week a friend was in town and wanted to hike, so we picked a fairly easy trail on the eastern slope (Estes Park side) known for being a great option for those not yet acclimated to the altitude.
Since it’s an easier trail and the weather was forecasted to be perfect, we knew the crowds would be out in full force, meaning an early start was necessary.
The trail was already crowded when we arrived, even for a Friday morning, which leads me to believe that it’s not uncommon to take a long weekend to check out the parks here. (My kind of people!)
And it’s clear why the Bear Lake Loop and the surrounding hikes are some of the most popular trails in RMNP. They are low effort, high reward. The trail was pleasant and calm, with tons of beautiful waterfalls and lakes.
Now, it’s important to remember to always be alert while you’re hiking, even if it’s an easy trail, because if you aren’t, you could very easily get wrapped up in your conversation and not realize that you’ve completely missed a switchback and ended up off trail….like we did.
We just assumed there had been a rockslide that had taken out part of the trail and surely we would come upon the path again soon! But a quarter mile in, we decided to it was too precarious to keep pushing forward and turned back, only to realize our mistake.
How we BOTH missed such a blatant switchback turn, I have no idea. But we were much more alert for the rest of the hike!
If you’re planning on doing this trail, I would suggest starting at Bear Lake trailhead like we did and going counter clockwise as we found it much easier to be headed downhill toward the end of the hike as the day grew hotter.
It’s amazing what a day spent outside in the sun will take out of you! I think I was asleep by 9:30pm that night. But it felt good to get back into the mountains and on the trail again. I can’t wait to put this annual pass to use!
What’s your favorite National Park?
Do you have a favorite hike in Rocky Mountain National Park?