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I've only hiked this trail once and it is a really cool trail, especially 12 minutes away from my house in the city, but the main drawback for me is all the bikes. It's a very popular MTB trail and I had to pause pretty much every other minute to let a bike go by. A few bikes hurtled toward me and expected me to lunge out of the way. Overall it was hard to settle into the hike itself.

As others have mentioned it is about 8-9 mile loop, great scenery, going counter clockwise would of been easier, didn't know my clockwise to counter and went the hard way, the wildlife is great saw many deers, snake, chipmunk, and rabbits. Fun but challenging hike, especially the last mile, which felt like 3. :)

Get run to build your mountain legs
Watch the poison ivy at the start of the canyon
Got sprayed by a skunk on the approach this morning

A great hike! 4 stars instead of 5 because the first ~2.8 miles of the route got a little boring with all the trees (which were pretty! Just the same view for a while), but the view at the top was gorgeous. If you’re comfortable with it, definitely climb up the rock peaks at the top to get an even better view.

It took us just under 2 hours to get to the top, and about 50 minutes to get back down. However, we normally walk fast, and passed many people both ways. There were some pretty steep parts, especially halfway through, but nothing too difficult or unsafe. If you’re regularly active and in good shape, you’ll find this trail to be moderate and not “hard.”

hiking
5 days ago

this was beautiful at the top but it's definitely HARD

This ended up being one of my favorite hikes of the trip. It was definitely a challenge for me and my friend, two Midwesterners who have never climbed a mountain or generally even faced high altitudes before. The elevation gain and rocky terrain are brutal at times but definitely manageable, I think having hiking poles would definitely have made it easier. It took us 3.5 hours to get to the top, going at a reasonable pace and making frequent stops to let our lungs adjust to the altitude. The views at the top are astounding, especially if you scramble up to one of the peaks to get the full panoramic view, but the first 3 miles of the hike itself isn't terribly exciting. You are surrounded by beautiful huge trees for most of it though, so it was peaceful, and when we began our hike around 8:30 AM we saw several elk right off the trail. All an all I would definitely recommend this hike if you're looking to summit a mountain but are an inexperienced hiker.

I liked that this trail had variety of sceneries. Many shaded area as well as some meadows and rocky terrains. Great for dogs since there is a creek running by, and the lakes to get to. Wild flowers are beautiful in August. I saw a coyote (I think) and moose!

Great hike, a few steeper spots but generally easy. We saw almost no people on the trail which is increasingly difficult in the front range.

hiking
6 days ago

Ended up here randomly after the line at Mitchel Lake was at least 30 deep and not moving to pay $10 to be crowded on that trail...

This was the first trail parking lot on the road to Rainbow lakes so I stopped around 2pm. This is a heavily forested hike that snakes upwards through several different layers of trees. I made it just past the 3.9 mark on the map before i turned around at 5pm. This was not a "Hard" hike by any means unless they were speaking of the length of the trail itself. This was the 23rd hike i did this season and I found this to be more "moderate." There were very few actual views through the trees and there is a site with ruins of some sort up by the environmental testing site. Lots of wood piles and old rusted metal cans and glass.

Minimal activity along trail. Secluded most of the hike.

Again seeing people just leave their bags of dog crap right along side the trail multiple times. Does someone come and pick this s-it up because it didn't seem like it. Why do people leave trash on the trail? Leave no trace? Disrespectful. Don't bring a dog if you can't clean up after your mess.

Was a good endurance hike. Would have gone further if i had started earlier. Gave it 3 stars because of the limited views and dog waste.

Scenic and forested. The last 3/4 of the hike got hard and had me wondering if I was ever going to make it, but it was worth the effort to get to beautiful mountain lakes.

The hike up isn’t the most interesting, but the view at the top is definitely one of the best in the park. The trail gets pretty steep at a bunch of points, and the altitude can really get you if you are not used to it, but if you can, hike Twin Sisters.

hiking
7 days ago

Definitely a challenging trail. I’m in good shape but being from a lower elevation, I felt pretty winded at times. With breaks I still took about 4 hours with a half hour break at the peak. The view was worth it for sure. Highly recommend getting an early start since the trail is in the full sun at the beginning.

This hike borders on moderate to hard. A fairly mild incline with a few steeper sections. We have run into a large bear on this trail so be alert and be prepared for what to do. We had to turn around the last time when the big guy would not back off and grant us passage.

I love this trail. beautiful views, not too far from golden.

Excellent hike! We did this on August 7, 2018.

Cool hike and views from the upper lake. Many, many people due to the parking lot being so big. I would rate the TH to the two lakes has a moderate hike and if you choose to go up that last .5 mile is hard. There are two trails up, the one in view from standing between the lakes is a scramble up and then down 150 ft to the lake. The trail to the east is steep too but drops you at the lake shore.

overall, nice hike with tons of people.

hell yes

hiking
12 days ago

Did this hike on the afternoon of 8/1 after flying in to Denver in the morning. No altitude issues despite the lack of acclimatization. Much less crowded than the Bear Lake area; no difficulty in finding parking across from Lily Lake and up the road a bit, and only a few people on the trail. The hike itself is mostly fairly easy switchbacks through the woods. Lots of pikas and a few marmots after getting above the treeline. The views at the top weren't amazing because it had gotten pretty overcast by then, but the summit certainly had a nice view of Longs & the surrounding valleys and would probably have been marvelous earlier in the day. All in all, a good hike but not one of our favorites in RMNP.

Beautiful hike with my dog, but had to go early in the AM to beat the summer heat (by noon it was 95 degrees). A few spots got narrow and with mtn bikers out and about there were a couple times we were forced off the path to make room for them. Nice mixture of rocky scrambles and smooth trail.

hiking
13 days ago

This is a great hike. I would call this the long slog to the top. We took Mesa via Towhee to Shadow Canyon to Bear Peak. Really beautiful views at all levels of the hike. Ran into rain/hail going up and waited it out. it cleared for a bit and by the time we reached the saddle more fronts we coming in. The Summit scramble was quick and we got pounded again with hail/rain coming back down to the Saddle. Overall...it was an awesome hike with wonderful view. took us 7.5 hours round trip. Most of that was due to several breaks and a couple good pauses for sheltering from the hail.

Lakes r theraputic. If I hike this again Ill either camp at the base and do rogers pass the following day or camp at the middle of the trail at the lower lakes n trout fish. Def wish I knew it was such a great camping area w so many alike enthusiast to share the adventure with. The hiker companionship is strong w this trail.

hiking
13 days ago

Drive ~
Not worth the far drive up unless you are going to camp and stay overnight. Drive is windy and nauseating... very slow going. Dirt road to get to trail is terrible! Must have AWD or 4x4 to traverse. Single lane only in most places = treacherous and dangerous.

Trails ~
This was a moderate to hard hike. VERY rough and rocky. We went with kids and dogs and had a few stumbles and falls. Yikes.

Trail markings not really clear between off-roaders/4x4 and hikers. We were nearly run over several times because we were on an incorrect pathway.

No bathrooms or public use areas which I had read in another review there was some. The one area that looks like you can access is actually private property and says no trespassing.

Regardless of these concerns, the scenery was nice and the pines smelled lovely. We did have a fine time, dogs had fun and being in the trees was cool - lots of cover and shade. Probably wouldn’t go again just because of the drive time and treacherous nature of the off-roads.

Tags ~ kid-friendly, kids, dog-friendly, dogs, dogs on leash, hike, hiking, trees, nature

Great walk

hiking
14 days ago

One of my go-to trails in the Boulder area with great views of Boulder creek! I definitely second the other reviewers - we were tracking our miles and ended up walking around 8.2 miles total so be aware of the added distance. I've done both the clockwise and counterclockwise route and would definitely say counterclockwise is the way to go if you're looking for an easier go with less steep terrain. Be aware that there will still be some steep parts, even on the counterclockwise route.

hiking
15 days ago

Did this hike on Wednesday, 7/25. Parked at lower trailhead - across the street from Lily Lake - at 7am. It was me and one other car in lot but there were 5 cars parked at the upper trailhead. The Hike was great, a steady incline, and the summit was cool. Did a short rock scramble up both peaks. Only saw ~8 people on ascent but lots on way back down.

From GAIA GPS: 7.60 miles, 3:53 hours (13 minutes of stoppage time), and 2384' ascent.

Agree with everyone that the upper lake is a must do. It is a long, gradual climb to the lower lakes, some rocky and rooty segments from the parking lot. We saw quite a bit of traffic on a Saturday morning but so it goes these days in Colorado.

Upper lake is steep, but the trail is obvious from the lower lakes and it's beautiful. Since you're almost there, keep going! There is a bit of rock scrambling at the top but look for the cairns and you'll be fine.

Wildflowers are about done for this year but still plenty of stragglers along the way.

Beautiful day
Beautiful hike

I felt like the hard rating on this hike was fair due to the almost constant incline on the ascent, the rocky terrain above the treeline, and the boulder climbing to get to the higher peak.
I was kind of disappointed with the first three miles of the trail, just head down watching my footing and not a lot of breaks from ascending to take in the surroundings. But, the top half of the hike more than made up for it.
There were awesome 360 views from the top of both peaks. The lower peak got pretty crowded but the second/higher peak was deserted. The climbing up the boulders to the higher peak was a blast.
There were some other rock formations along the way that we climbed on too.
We hiked on a Monday morning, started around 7:30 am, it took us about 4.5-5 hours and we hung out at the top for quite a while and added in extra rock climbing. All in all, fun hike.

Started hiking around 6:45AM, with the parking lot nearly empty except for people who parked their car and were camping. The trail is well defined up to the first 2 lakes but when you start up to the top lake, the path is hard to follow. I followed a path that was not what AllTrails had marked up to the top which included a lot of scrambling. I looked for the trail AllTrails has marked on their route to go down and couldn’t find it, so I made my way down the way I came up. Other than that, the hike is beautiful, with a lot of wildflowers on the way to the top lake. Highly recommend going in the morning because when I got back to the parking lot it was nearly full.

I have yet to find a hike better than this. The views are gorgeous. I definitely recommend hiking to the top lakes, it’s worth it. There is currently no mud or issues with the trail, but there is some lose gravel and scrambling involved in this hike. Expect heavy breathing, as the incline gets steeper in the last mile. Overall it takes about two hours to get up from the parking lot to the top crater lake.

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