Today (June 6th) was our third day off in a row, and our one month anniversary here in Estes Park! Day off #1 (Monday) we hiked the Emerald Lake trail in Rocky Mountain NP, Tuesday we did a scenic day trip to Fort Collins (sorry, FB or Instagram posts only), and today we hiked nearby Lily Mountain trail. Several of our fellow work campers had hiked Lily Mountain and gave us the 411 so we knew it was a serious hike, despite being only 4 miles roundtrip.
The trailhead for Lily is just a few miles south of Mary’s Lake on CO 7, and you park right on the side of the road to access the trailhead. The elevation at the trailhead is 8780′. We got there just before 9 AM (no, we’re not really early-starters), and the limited parking was nearly full. I would estimate there were 6 or 7 cars there. The trail starts out gently, going north and uphill. Even early on, the views of the Estes Valley and surrounding mountains are awesome!
Flowers, color, and texture abound on the trail, even at the summit of the mountain!
A little further up, still heading generally northward.
Below, a peek-a-boo shot of Estes Park Campground at Mary’s Lake, our home for the summer! ❤
The view of the campground was possible on the north end of the trail, about one mile in, just before a sharp left hairpin which flips the hiker in a southerly direction and sharply uphill. Whew! One foot in front of the other…below, random views on the way uphill.
The last 100 yards can only be described as a rock scramble. The trail is vague but marked with cairns at a couple of spots. Suffice it to say that we missed at least one of the cairns, then saw it and had to climb back down and then back up the correct way. 😉
At the top, it is all worth it! Two miles of climbing, rock scrambling, dust, and literal waves of pine pollen! The elevation is reported as 9786′. Wow! It was so spectacular, I am going to share all the photos AND a 360-degree video!
Take a video spin around the top of Lily Mountain with me!
I cannot adequately describe the view from the top of the mountain. You can see everything in all directions. You need an extra set of eyes to take it all in!
I equally cannot describe just how steep and rocky the second mile of this hike is. Despite having just climbed it, we marveled on the way down at just how steep it was. These photos don’t do it justice, but they are the best I have! 😉
I hope that I have conveyed an idea of what you will encounter should you choose to hike Lily Mountain. Note that this hike is not in the National Park, but just outside, so dogs are welcome (they are not allowed on any trails in the NP). It is a quick ride from town, but still not as popular as many of the NP hikes. We saw a handful of people coming down as we went up, and encountered another handful up top and on the way down. It was a lovely and peaceful outing, discounting the huffing and puffing, of course. 😀
If you’d like to read more about the special places “Around Estes” that are NOT in Rocky Mountain National Park, go here.
Join us again soon as we explore Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, and the surrounding areas!