Explore Estes Park - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

4-8 mile easy to moderate

Estes Park Map

Great short hike with stunning views in every direction at the top. Packed snow most of the way 3/17, spikes a big help. Gorgeous day!

I would give this a moderate rating in the winter! Steep incline and icy at spots until you get to the top. Great views! I recommend for a short hike outside of the metro area

great trail with a steady incline pretty much the whole way up. I did this with my wife and two teen sons and enjoyed it very much. fantastic views once you break the treeline. it didnt seem to busy either.

Trail was very snowy and due to the past few days of wind the snow wasn't very packed. Super beautiful and amazing hike and there were plenty of people on the trail, but I would not recommend it without snow shoes or spikes

Pretty hike! Short enough to do mid-day, microspikes would be beneficial!

Very relaxed and beautiful trail!

Almost completely packed down snow right, as all the trails in this area will be for awhile. Slight elevation gain to Alberta Falls, but nothing crazy. We have a 4 and 7 year old and the only one that used spikes was my wife. On the way back it would be helpful though. Right now you can see the water at the top of the waterfall running down through the ice... very cool. This one if good for kids. We do it once during winter and once during summer every year.

10 days ago

It was an easy hike except for the icy condition, although some other hikers had no problem with it, but I was slipping where there’s ice even with walking poles. The view was amazing, though! I’d definitely rent microspikes to wear next time. The lake is still frozen, I think the view will look even more beautiful if it wasn’t frozen.

11 days ago

Pretty easy hike and would be easier without any snow. I would do it again.

13 days ago

On the way up we were getting nervous about the lack of snow in morraine park, but were not let down when we got to the trailhead. We were fine in just our hiking boots til shortly after nymph lake then the trail got more narrow, steep, and icy where our snowshoes came in handy (or any type of yaktrak would have been fine). Overall it was great, still very well traveled even in the snow. Signage is nearly impossible to find with how deep the snow is, but trail is mostly well packed and easy to follow.

This is one of my fave go-to hikes. I do some pretty tough hikes so I’ll be assigning degrees of difficulty to this. But the reason I love it so much is its proximity to Denver, relative ease for most skill levels, and possibly the best view of Colorado’s Front Range you’ll encounter. On a clear day you can see every 14er in the Front Range. Some extraordinarily clear skies this weekend and perfection for this hike. Right now the trail is packed snow with some ice. Traction is absolutely necessary but will create a better experience getting up and down both. Snow shoes are too much but micro spikes are perfect right now in this trail. Again, not required but you’ll have a better day both ways using them. At least until you get above tree line. Go up. Enjoy. Take some gorgeous photos. Reward on this hike for the effort is just hard to beat. Dig it.

The access to the trail is at the lower area of the parking area.. think “parallel parking” on north side (uphill) of the road. It’s technically not a “Easy” Trail, where elderly and young kids can hike, there is incline all the way up the top and somewhat of a rock scramble at the top. But it’s a great view and hike. Snowpacked trail about 95 percent so I’d recommend microspikes just so you don’t have to worry about any slipping.

20 days ago

Great hike! As other reviewers have noted the trailhead is a little hard to find. But Google Maps got us there. The trail was completely snow-packed, so boots appropriate for that were essential. The views at the top are stunning! It’s not a hard hike - but it’s definitely a decent incline. I can’t wait to do it again.

Slippery, but good. Wear spikes if you got em.

Super calm serene hike up a beautiful mountain side, the views after the initial incline weigh out any negative thoughts of inclines as well as altitude. Super suggest the hike any time of the year.

The views at the summit of Chief Mountain are absolutely SPECTACULAR. I was actually speechless when I first came to the top and saw the 360-degree views of the Rockies. There were many 14ers in view. I will 100% be coming back to do this hike again.

I did a bunch of research for this hike and kept seeing conflicting points for directions, hiking distance, and difficulty of the hike. Let me be the one to clarify for future hikers:

There are actually two “trailhead” entrances between mile marker 18 and 19 that will get you to the second half of the Chief Mountain Summit.

1) The first is the one that I (mistakenly) took. This was just after mile marker 18 on Rt 103. There is a small parking area across from the entrance, which is unmarked. It is at the top of a hill, not the bottom. This (I believe) is the Old Squaw Pass Rd. It’s flatter and much easier for those weekend warriors who are actually expecting an easy trail. It also adds a mile R/T to your overall hiking distance - which is why some people on here clocked in at 4mi. This is a great cross-country skiing trail if you’re interested! If you take this, you will take a sharp right and start inclining about a mile in to your hike, where there is a wooden sign that says Chief Mountain with an arrow.

2) The second option is the actual Chief Mountain Trail, which is located just before mile marker 19 on 103. The Echo Park ski lifts are on the same side as the parking for the trail. The actual trail (on the other side of the street) is also poorly labeled, with a small wooden sign that says Chief Mountain trail. This is the way I walked back (and ended up a mile from my car...super fun!). This is about a half mile shorter than the other trail option, but I would absolutely put it in the moderate category. I’m not sure who designates whether a trail is easy or moderate, but I’ve noticed several trails that were much harder than their designations. For someone who isn’t used to 11,000ft altitudes or who isn’t hiking 3-4x a week, you’ll probably be out of breath for this. The good news is that it’s only 3mi. This trail is fairly narrow, and if you make the mistake of stepping off the path you will be in 2ft drifts.

Hopefully this helps prevent some confusion!!

I did this hike in trail running shoes and was totally fine without additional traction. You could probably use snowshoes but it’s not necessary. Definitely avoid tennis shoes or shoes without traction - the trail is totally snowpacked and slick at points. It was not windy when we went - it was about 25 degrees and sunny with maybe 10mph gusts that we could only feel above the tree line (for perspective, it was 57 and sunny in Denver when we got home).

We went at 10am on a Thursday and we saw a total of 6 people - one group of 4, 2 cross-country skiers, and 1 girl with her dog. It was super quiet and the snow was pristine off the trail. It was perfect!!

25 days ago

Stunning views. Did this hike on 2/25. No spikes needed but VERY windy conditions.

It’s a little hard to find at first. It’s directly across from the Echo Mountain ski lift.

Awesome views . Short and sweet

Today the trail started off muddy and with a little snow. Once you get past Cub lake the snow got very deep in spots. Bring poles and snow pants to make it easier.

Went up on snowy trails today with yaktraks on my boots. Windy at the top, but the hike was easy, even in the snow. Out and back in just under two hours.

comfortable hike with amazing waterfall!

I did this in the summer. Fantastic views considering the relatively minimal effort needed to get to the top. Short, sweet and rewarding!

1 month ago

Always a great snowshoeing trek in RMNP. Some fresh snow, occasional sun and on and off winds. Great variety to keep things interesting. Also makes for some different and interesting pictures.

Some people ventured without snowshoes, skis or crimpons. They didn't look like enjoyed the hike as much and a step off compacted trail was easily 2ft up the leg. So as always, the right gear makes for an easier more enjoyable trek.

A busy trail but knowing it and expecting makes it okay as people are generally friendly and accommodating on the trail. Not to say that sometimes it’s great to be on a trail and not see anyone.

1 month ago

My mom and I went here this morning to catch the super moon set and Alpenglow.
neither happened lol. We were to high up to see the moon and there was not pink in the sky. Still it was a nice hike. Took some nice pictures and headed back down.
The trail is packed and icy and in some spots. I would definitely suggest yakka tracks and Poles. Also, the Lake is not completely frozen over so don't walk out on it twords the east side. It is very windy up at the lake. We also saw some large fresh prints in the snow by Nymph lake. Looked like mountain lion.

Great, quick little hike. 5.4 miles total with added mileage from winter gate. Did not see a soul all day. Snowshoes are overkill. Traction devices maybe, only really handy for very end to descend steep area to view falls from bottom. Many sections of road/trail still exposed dirt. Not my favorite hike in Rocky but I’ll take a day spent in the park over the office anytime ;)

Hiked this on Sunday, 1/28 and had great time! Quick and painless with the climb only being 1.5 miles... LOTS of snow but it’s pretty packed down on the trail. Micro’s helped a lot but I wouldn’t have been mad if I brought my snowshoes, as well... not a necessity, just would have helped with traction. But there’s plenty of off-trail exploring to be done so bring your snowshoes if that tickles your fancy... BEAUTIFUL views. Great hike!

on Cub Lake Trail Loop

1 month ago

Great winter hike! It was very windy but it hadn't snowed in a while so the snow was mostly packed down up the lake. After the lake down to the pools, gaiters would be helpful as the snow has drifted knee deep in some places. The fern lake section had a bit more ice but I didn't have spikes. I started early but the trailhead parking was a bit full when I left. The loop took me about 3 hrs but I wasn't going that quickly.

1 month ago

Me and my pup went on 1/18. It did have snow on the ground, but I had regular hiking boots and me and my dog were fine and able to make it to the top. But,A little icy in some spots so be careful. Closer to the top there wasn't any snow or ice. . At the top it had gorgeous views of the mountain range!!
When you do get there, there really isn't a parking lot (parked on the side of road) and the sign is small if your driving to it the first time. I drove back and forth trying to find it. The directions does take you to the spot, you just have to park your car on the side road and get out to cross over and find it.

Hiked 1/20/18 and it was a great hike. It was snow packed up to the tree line and then mostly snow free above the treeline. I did not need or use micro spikes until I had started down and hit the treeline, they made the trip down very easy. Great views at the top made the climb worth the short effort.

2 months ago

I would defiantly recommend going in the summer! It’s beautiful!!

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