As said before the first 1.8miles pretty easy if you are use to hiking at altitude. The hill down is hard and of course you have to go back up. That is about .5 miles. Beautiful place. There is also a campground on the opposite side and the trail from that campground is easier but twice as long. 4 miles one way. Also, come through the town of Arlington. Much shorter trip. The map took us through elk mountain which is longer but pretty none the less.
First and foremost, the location of the trail head is very wrong on All trails as of 7/5/16. Visit http://www.justtrails.com/trails/rock-creek-trail/ for a much more accurate trail head description and trail information. I did submit an update to All Trails, but make sure you verify where the trail is. All Trails also is only showing about 3 miles of an 11.1 mile trail.
That being said, this is a fantastic backpacking trail. There are several well used camping sites along it, and it isn't overly trafficked. On July 4th weekend I met 8 other hikers over a span of 24 hours.
You do have to traverse several rock slides, and if you are going to bring a dog, you might consider boots for their feet. I learned that the hard way with a torn paw on my dog's foot.
There is a lot of bear and moose sign in the area, but I didn't see either animal in my trek. The trail follows Rock Creek and offers stunning vistas and quiet forest paths to lead the way.
I agree with Jacob below. My friend and I hiked the loop yesterday, June 26th and did not expect the amount of snow covering many parts of the trail. It was incredibly slick. We made the entire hike up the back and down the front, but lost the trail several times as it was snow covered. Beautiful sights and wildflowers, but it would've been nice to know the amount of snow. I look forward to hiking this again when it's a little more clear.
Beautiful area/view. I went on June 25th though and there was still 3-6 ft of ice-hard snow in some areas. It was even on the trail in a lot of spots, including on extremely steep mountain sides, making crossing extremely dangerous (I was stupid and did it anyway, it was extremely unsafe). Go as late in the year as possible to avoid the snow. I would have given it a higher rating if an effort was made to clear the trail/warn hikers of snowed-over areas on the mountain side. I can see how people would love it though if it wasn't a life-threatening experience though.
One of our favorite areas! Hike here 3-4 times every summer, and always bring guests from out of town because it's great for all ability levels. We live in Fort Collins and love to hike with no crowds and friendly people. I always tell people this is an instant gratification hike because the view from the parking lot alone is worth the trip. No need to charge for the summit if you don't want to. Always get an early start though because storms move in fast in the early afternoon and there isn't much cover.
Wow, what a hike! Breath taking scenery through out this hike. The first mile was easy enough with no Mosquitos in early August. The last .8 is a stair climber with every step being worth it! Plan on 3 hours which gives plenty of time on top. One of my knew favorites!
Hiked the Medicine Bow Peak trail in early September. One of the best hikes I've been on. The views are amazing and the hike was fun. The trail is well marked. It can get a little rugged at times but nothing that would require an expert hiker by any means. It took my girlfriend and I about 3 hours up and back with an extended lunch break at the top. I highly recommend this trail to everyone.
My wife and I enjoyed this 2 mile hike to the top of Medicine Bow Peak from Lewis Lake trailhead very much. This is a really good trail for a summit hike. The trail is well maintained and the views make the climb worth it. Everyone is right about the mosquitos, they are abundant at the lakes but as soon as you climb up a little they aren't much of a problem. The first 1.1 miles are a steady climb just above the lakes then the real climbing begins, for the next eight tenths of a mile you will climb about 1,000 feet. Fortunately, it is short lived and the trail is clearly marked. Once on top of the ridge you will encounter about 100 yards of boulder field. Hang in there, it's worth it.