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Lulu City Hike

Hiking route · United States of America
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Macs Adventure Verified partner  Explorers Choice 
  • Photo: Chase Marston, Macs Adventure
m 2900 2850 2800 2750 10 8 6 4 2 km
Walk to the site of an old mining community. A stunning out and back hike along the Colorado River that weaves through meadows and magestic trees.
Distance 11.8 km
3:30 h
199 m
199 m
2,905 m
2,756 m
Walk along the early stages of the Colorado river - just miles from the headwaters - through meadows and forests to the ancient Shipler's Cabin. Continue onward to the riverside meadow that once contained the mining community at Lulu City. Though nothing remains besides a cemetary, you can easily imaginet he location hosting families. The walk is mostly flat and very pleasant. 

Author’s recommendation

Get the the trailhead early as parking can be limited.
Profile picture of Chase Marston
Chase Marston
Update: July 16, 2019
Highest point
2,905 m
Lowest point
2,756 m

Track types

Asphalt 0.28%Dirt road 37.73%Path 61.97%
0 km
Dirt road
4.5 km
7.3 km
Show elevation profile

Safety information

Bring enough water and food as there are no opportunities for purchasing along the way. 


The river water can swell after rain or in the spring from snow run off. Be aware as the water may impact the trail conditions. 


Please note that in the early part of the summer, parts of the trail go through habitat that is commonly inhabited by elk during the calving season. Mother elk can become territorial during this time, and it is important never to approach an elk, especially with a calf. The National Park posts cautionary and informational signs during the calving season to help you stay aware of elk habitat.

Tips and hints

 Points of Interest


Lulu City

A now abandoned site where the mining city was established in the mid 19th-century after silver was discoverd in the valley. Once home to 40+ homes and numerous small businesses, the town went into decline after the silver grade was determined to be low and difficult to transport to the major cities of the region. 


Shipler's Cabin

 A run down cabin on the side of the trail that harkens back to the days of mining in this quiet valley. It was the home of Joe Shipler, the first to discover silver in the valley, for nearly 40 years of his later life. 


Colorado River

One of the nation's most powerful, wonderous rivers begins just up the trail from this hike. Though only a small river along this hike, it grows to 1450 miles and deposits in the Gulf of California. 


Food & Drink


After leaving Estes Park, there will not be a distinct town until Grand Lake. Make sure to bring plenty of food for the whole day's adventure. However, the Visitor's center does have a café should you need to get food before this hike. 


Colorado River Trailhead (2,756 m)
40.401571, -105.848892
40°24'05.7"N 105°50'56.0"W
13T 427964 4472675


Colorado River Trailhead

Turn-by-turn directions

0.00 miles – Begin the walk at the far end of the parking lot next to the informational board and beyond the bathrooms. The trail will hug the right (east) side of the valley. There will be a number of small side trails to your left, but make sure to bear right.


0.20 miles – BEAR RIGHT as a small trail continues to your left.


0.50 miles – TURN RIGHT following signs for Shipler Cabins and Lulu City.


1.10 miles – The trail closely parallels a river. Stay on the right bank and mind your footing, especially if the river is high from recent rain or in spring snow run off.


1.20 miles – BEAR RIGHT as a small trail continues to your left.


1.60 miles - BEAR RIGHT as a small trail continues to your left


2.20 miles – Reach Shipler cabin. It is in a meadow on the right side, tucked into the trees. Note, it can be easy to miss so stay attentive!


3.50 miles – BEAR LEFT following signs for Lulu City Site.


3.70 miles – Arrive at the Lulu City site (marked with sign) and take time to enjoy the open river-front meadow. When you are ready, return from the direction you came to walk back to the trailhead.


3.90 miles – BEAR RIGHT to remain on the main trail, following signs for Colorado River Trailhead.


5.20 miles – Reach Shipler Cabin and continue STRAIGHT ON


5.80 miles – BEAR LEFT as a small trail continues to the right.


6.20 miles – BEAR LEFT as a small trail continues to the right.


6.30 miles - The trail closely parallels a river. Stay on the left (east) bank as with on the way out.


6.90 miles – TURN LEFT following signs for the Colorado River Trailhead


7.20 miles – BEAR LEFT to stay on the main trail.


7.40 miles – Arrive back at the trailhead!


all notes on protected areas


40.401571, -105.848892
40°24'05.7"N 105°50'56.0"W
13T 427964 4472675
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike


We recommend wearing hiking boots that are well broken-in, plus a rain jacket and waterproof trousers in wet weather, as well as taking sun cream and a hat on nicer days.

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11.8 km
3:30 h
199 m
199 m
Highest point
2,905 m
Lowest point
2,756 m


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