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Lake Estes Trail

· 1 review · Hiking trail
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Macs Adventure Ltd Verified partner  Explorers Choice 
  • The beautiful Estes Valley and Wapiti Marsh
    / The beautiful Estes Valley and Wapiti Marsh
    Photo: Shan Nagar, Macs Adventure Ltd
  • / Lake Estes
    Photo: Shan Nagar, Macs Adventure Ltd
  • / Mountain views from the walking path
    Photo: Shan Nagar, Macs Adventure Ltd
m 2300 2290 2280 2270 2260 6 5 4 3 2 1 km
A warm-up hike in town around Lake Estes; a pefect way to warm up your legs, get a taste for the altitude, and get your first glimpes of the park's beautiful peaks!
Distance 6.4 km
2:00 h
36 m
36 m
Starting from the Estes Park Visitors Center, this walk follows a paved, multi-use trail around the entirety of Lake Estes. The walk follows the path counter-clockwise, taking you away from town to start, before turning the corner and finishing the walk directly facing the mountains!

Author’s recommendation

If you get to Estes Park early in the afternoon, this walk is the perfect way to enjoy a picnic lunch or snack at one of the many picnic areas along the path.
Profile picture of Shan Nagar
Shan Nagar
Update: July 16, 2019
Highest point
2,301 m
Lowest point
2,267 m
Best time of year

Safety information

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


Estes Park Visitors Center

This hike starts and ends at the Visitors Center, which is a wealth of knowledge about Rocky Mountain National Park! Take some time to familiarize yourself with the layout, history, and ecology of the park, along with the locations of the various hikes you'll be completing during your tour.


Lake Estes Marina

The Marina (which you'll pass about 2/3 of the way through your hike) is a great place to sit and enjoy the lake! It faces the mountains, and even has some sandy beach areas where you can take off your shoes and wade into the water before continuing along the path.


Matthews-Reeser Bird Sanctuary

On the western bank of the lake is the Matthews-Reeser Bird Sanctuary, a small wetland area that makes for prime bird-watching. You'll find some educational signs along the path itself that help you know which species to keep an eye out for!


Food & Drink


About 2/3 of the way through today's hike you'll pass the Estes Park Resort, which does have a restaurant where you can stop for food if you wish. Otherwise, the best option for food will be to pick up snacks and water in town before starting the walk, as you will not pass any grocery or convenience stores along the trail itself.


Estes Park Visitors Center (2,291 m)
40.378703, -105.513846
40°22'43.3"N 105°30'49.8"W
13T 456381 4469917


Estes Park Visitors Center

Turn-by-turn directions

0.0mi. - The Lake Estes Trail will start on the south side of the Estes Park Visitors Center, on the sidewalk next to the river. With the Visitors Center behind you, you'll see a bridge crossing the river in front of you. Walk STRAIGHT ON across the bridge to start the walk.


100ft. - After crossing the bridge, BEAR LEFT to follow the sidewalk so that the parking garage is on your right. Continue STRAIGHT ON along the sidewalk, past the parking garage.


430ft. - With a crosswalk on your right and the golf course on your left, BEAR LEFT to continue along the sidewalk that goes next to the golf course.


800ft. - This is where the Lake Estes Trail starts its loop. At the fork in the path, TURN RIGHT to follow the sidewalk and start the loop of the lake.


1600ft. - BEAR LEFT at the fork in the path.


3500ft. - There are restroom facilities on your right should you need to use them; otherwise, BEAR LEFT.


4000ft. - Continue STRAIGHT ON across the intersection with the gravel road to stay on the paved sidewalk.


4900ft. - TURN LEFT at the intersection to continue along the sidewalk with the lake directly on your left.


1.4 mi. - After crossing underneath the powerline pylon, TURN LEFT to continue on the sidewalk, following the road on your right.


1.8mi. - BEAR LEFT at the fork to continue on the walking path.


2.4mi. - Continue STRAIGHT ON along the path; ignore the small offshoot of the path on your right.


2.6mi. - TURN LEFT at the fork to follow the paved sidewalk.


3.8mi. - When you reach the end of the loop, continue STRAIGHT ON to retrace your steps where you will continue back to the Visitors Center.


3.9mi. TURN RIGHT to go back across the bridge to the Visitors Center. Congratulations, you've finished your first hike of the tour!


all notes on protected areas


40.378703, -105.513846
40°22'43.3"N 105°30'49.8"W
13T 456381 4469917
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.

In your information pack, you’ll find a detailed list of all the required hiking gear, including some good hiking boots, appropriate clothing, a rain jacket and a backpack.

Basic Equipment for Hiking

  • Sturdy, comfortable and waterproof hiking boots or approach shoes
  • Layered, moisture wicking clothing
  • Hiking socks  
  • Rucksack (with rain cover)
  • Protection against sun, rain and wind (hat, sunscreen, water- and windproof jacket and suitable legwear)
  • Sunglasses
  • Hiking poles
  • Ample supply of drinking water and snacks
  • First aid kit
  • Blister kit
  • Bivy / survival bag  
  • Survival blanket
  • Headlamp
  • Pocket knife
  • Whistle
  • Cell phone
  • Cash
  • Navigation equipment / map and compass
  • Emergency contact details
  • ID
  • The 'basic' and 'technical' equipment lists are generated based on the selected activity. They are not exhaustive and only serve as suggestions for what you should consider packing.
  • For your safety, you should carefully read all instructions on how to properly use and maintain your equipment.
  • Please ensure that the equipment you bring complies with local laws and does not include restricted items.

Questions and answers

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Hawley Vining
December 05, 2019 · Community
This is a wonderful walk for guests of Estes Park looking to acclimate to the altitude, see the panoramic views Estes is known for, and stretch your legs a bit. Dogs allowed.
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Photos from others

6.4 km
2:00 h
36 m
36 m


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