In late August 2018, a long-time friend of Jerry’s, Pete, and his wife Cathy came to visit us in Estes Park from the DC area. Pete and Jerry had visited the Estes area 40+ years earlier, so it was a bit of a nostalgic visit for them both. We were so grateful to have so many dear friends and family visit during our time in Estes Park…hopefully sharing our experiences there ensures those visits will continue during our 2019 stay as well! 🙂
During Pete and Cathy’s stay, we enjoyed great meals out, toured the bulk of RMNP via automobile, and got to see two of the iconic hotels from the guest point of view. It was really nice quality time with friends.
Cathy had committed to spend some time completing an assignment for a masters program online, so one morning, Pete joined us for a hike that we had somehow missed during our time in Estes, to Bierstadt Lake.
The Bierstadt Lake trail is accessed from the very popular Bear Lake area, where the parking lot fills very early in the morning, despite the fact that it was now late August. Instead, we parked in the park and ride and waited a short time for the shuttle bus. There is a trailhead for Bierstadt right on Bear Lake Road, with a shuttle bus stop, but the access is very steep and rocky. We had been fortunate to get a tip from a park ranger earlier in the season to ride the Bear Lake shuttle from the park and ride to Bear Lake directly, then walk around the lake in a counter-clockwise direction to an access trail to get to Bierstadt Lake. The climb from this approach was about 2 miles, but relatively easy, plus Pete got to visit Bear Lake on the way. 😉
The hike up was through light forest, and we met and passed a young couple with an adorable little boy several times on the way to Bierstadt. They made several snack and toddler stops, while we stopped to enjoy the views and admire the flora, mostly. Maybe a little resting, haha.
Once we reached the lake, there were several access trails to get to the water, and we chose one in the middle of the north side of the lake. It turned out to be a great choice, as the view was spectacular!
We had a visit from a VERY friendly duck, as we relaxed on the shore and had a snack. I guess the NP guideline to never feed the wildlife mostly falls on deaf ears. 😦 This duck actually walked over our boots (with our feet in them!) as we watched in amusement!
After our time enjoying the lake, views, and friendly duck, we headed in an easterly direction. The views of the Bear Lake area, Glacier Gorge, and East Portal were stunning! The final portion of the trail dropped steeply, and rather loose and rocky, down a mile and a half or so, and deposited us right in the park and ride. Score! This nice, 5-mile roundtrip left us more than ready for lunch.
The moral of this story is always seek out the knowledgeable park rangers, for they know much of what you do not!
Join us again soon for more travel, nature, and adventure.
If you’d like to see the next post about Rocky Mountain National Park, in 2019, you can go directly to this link.