7 Best Family-Friendly Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park

Some of the most epic scenery can be found in Rocky Mountain National Park. Breathtaking picture-perfect views make for stunning  photo opportunities you can't find anywhere. It also features an abundance of family-friendly hiking trails and picturesque landmarks not to be missed. Whether you are seeking an easy stroll or a more adventurous climb, the Rockies have a trails for every level so the whole family can enjoy.

Read on for the best family-friendly hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park.

1/7 Emerald Lake Trail

Nymph Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park Hiking

Where to start: Bear Lake Trailhead

Distance: ~3 miles

This scenic trail is perfect for the whole family, including younger kids. You’ll pass pristine alpine lakes like Nymph Lake and Dream Lake, and you’ll find exceptional views of Flattop Mountain, Hallet Peak and Glacier Gorge.

The elevation is subtle and the trail is not a long walk, so even little legs will find the trail and the views enjoyable. Fair warning, the trail can become crowded, especially during the summer months. But trust us, it's popular for good reason. 

2/7 Bear Lake to Fern Lake

Fern Lake - Rocky Mountain National Park Hiking

Where to start: Bear Lake Trailhead

Distance: ~8.5 miles

This idyllic North American trail is a one-way hike that makes use of the Rocky Mountain National Park’s shuttle system and is one of the best family-friendly hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. You’ll park your vehicle at the Fern Lake trailhead and then take the shuttle to Bear Lake where the hike begins.

While most hikers follow the popular Dream Lake Trail, you’ll leave the crowds behind when taking the Bear Lake route to Fern Lake. This is a beautiful hike with jaw-dropping scenery full of brilliant pine forests and alpine lakes. You may even come across a few elk munching in the meadows! This hike is suitable for younger kids since it doesn't get too steep, although it is a longer walking distance.

3/7 Gem Lake

Gem Lake Trail - Rocky Mountain National Park Hiking

Where to start: Lumpy Ridge Trailhead

Distance: ~5 miles

Gem Lake is a stunning natural phenomenon. The lake is only fed by water from rains and melting snow or ice, not from any river or stream. The trail to Gem Lake is uphill with a few switchbacks and stairs. 

The views make the uphill hike more than worth the effort. Along the trail, you’ll find singular rock formations and panoramic views of Estes Park, Longs Peak and the surrounding mountains topped with snow.

4/7 Sky Pond

Sky Pond - Rocky Mountain National Park Hiking

Where to start: Glacier Gorge Trailhead

Distance: ~10 miles

If you're looking for a quieter trail, this hike is for you. Ending at beautiful Sky Pond, you'll pass several spectacular sights along the way. From the trailhead, you’ll arrive at Albert Falls before heading on toward The Loch. You’ll also trek past the Lake of Glass as you head towards your final goal.

When you reach the Lake of Glass the trail gets fairly rocky and rugged. Take care when hiking through this section, but I promise you won’t regret pushing on. Sky Pond sits at an elevation of roughly 10,900 feet and is surrounded by dramatic cliff walls. If you’re bringing the kids, make sure they are able to manage walking the long distance and more difficult sections. 

5/7 Fern Falls Hike

Fern Falls - Rocky Mountain National Park Hiking

Where to start: Fern Lake Trailhead

Distance: ~5.5 miles

If you love a bit of fishing with your hiking, definitely take the Fern Falls hike. The trail follows a winding path along the Big Thompson River. Along the way, you’ll get to see the Windy Gulch Cascades, Arch Rocks and a river crossing known as "The Pool." 

Once you reach Fern Falls, take out your fishing pole, have a little picnic and enjoy some time taking in the peace and serenity of this beautiful waterfall. The whole family will love this trail.

6/7 Mount Ida

Mount Ida Trail - Rocky Mountain National Park Hiking

Where to start: Milner Pass Trailhead

Distance: ~10 miles

If hiking is all about the views for your family, then Mount Ida is the trail for you and, best of all, is not too physically demanding. It’s a great alternative to the Trail Ridge Road trek and is typically less crowded. 

This trail is a gentle climb with constant panoramic views and beautiful boulder fields along the way. The trail ends at a massive drop off that stands over beautiful alpine lakes and views of Rocky Mountain National Park. This is an easy hike for the whole family, but another long journey, so make sure the kids can handle the distance.

7/7 Hallet Peak

Hallet Peak - Rocky Mountain National Park Hiking

Where to start: Bear Lake Trailhead

Distance: ~10.5 miles

A more strenuous hike, the Hallet Peak Trail begins with a short stroll along the edge of Bear Lake and then heads towards Flattop Mountain. You’ll continue up towards the tree line where the path becomes a little more difficult. 

The trail takes you to the Emerald Lake Overlook and then on towards the summit of Flattop Mountain, heading to Hallet Peak. The terrain gets rough here, but the top is well worth the struggle. Older kids and teens will love this trail, but young kids may struggle with the distance and terrain.

By Mila & Mark Whitman