A few weekends ago, my hiking crew and I tackled a beautiful 13 mile loop through the diverse landscapes of Rocky Mountain National Park. We hiked around Bear Lake, over Flattop Mountain and Hallett Peak, down Andrew's Glacier to Andrew's Tarn, and by The Loch, Dream Lake, and Nymph Lake. If you haven't been to RMNP before, this is a great way to see some of the park's best hidden gems.
Here is a detailed hike report. This loop is recommended for mid to late summer as there can still be a lot of snow on some parts of the trail. Rangers will recommend crampons and ice axes for descending Andrew's Glacier, and I would reiterate that recommendation; we found the gear necessary for crossing some sections of the glacier (when we weren't glissading on our butts, of course!). 13 miles may sound like a lot, but completing this loop in one day is definitely feasible. The earlier you start, the more time you have to nap in fields of wildflowers and lounge by the alpine lakes, as we did. Overall, this hike was just plain fun. Scroll down for camping and other recommendations.
Make a Thing of It
It's easy to turn this day hike into a weekend of fun. Unless you make a reservation months in advance, chances are you won't be able to camp inside Rocky Mountain National Park. Don't let that stop you though - there is plenty of camping outside the park. Check out first-come, first-served camping at Longs Peak Campground, Meeker Park Campground, or dispersed camping off of CO-7 Scenic Highway. If you're heading to Rocky Mountain National Park from Denver, considering making a stop in the teeny town of Lyons, CO. It's got a quaint little main street with shops, restaurants, and, most importantly, the Oskar Blues Brewery. Estes Park and Boulder are also nearby and definitely worth a visit.