Best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park for families

Last updated 17th July 2022

Some of the best hikes in Colarado’s Rocky Mountain National Park are perfect for families. Whether you want an easy stroll or a more challenging climb, the Rockies have trails for all level of ability, so even younger kids can get that top-of-the-world sensation that makes Rocky Mountain National Park such a thrill. Take a look at seven of the most family-friendly trails to try this summer.

1/7 Emerald Lake Trail

best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park

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 find exceptional views of Flattop Mountain, Hallet Peak and Glacier Gorge. The elevation’s subtle and it’s not a long walk, so even little legs will manage the trail easily. The trail can become crowded, especially during summer, but that’s simply because it’s one of the loveliest in Rocky Mountain National Park. 

2/7 Bear Lake to Fern Lake

best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park

Where to start: Bear Lake Trailhead

Distance: ~8.5 miles

This idyllic trail is a one-way hike that makes use of the Rocky Mountain National Park Shuttle Bus and is one of the best family hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. Park your vehicle at the Fern Lake trailhead and take the shuttle to Bear Lake where the hike begins. Most hikers follow the popular Dream Lake Trail, but you’ll leave the crowds behind on the Bear Lake route to Fern Lake. This is a beautiful hike with jaw-dropping views of brilliant pine forests and alpine lakes. You may even come across a few elk.  This hike is suitable for younger kids as it doesn’t get too steep, even though it’s a longer walking distance.

3/7 Gem Lake

best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park

Where to start: Lumpy Ridge Trailhead

Distance: ~5 miles

Gem Lake is a stunning natural phenomenon as it’s only fed by water from rains and melting snow or ice in Rocky Mountain National Park. The trail to Gem Lake is uphill with a few switchbacks and stairs.  But 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

Where to start: Glacier Gorge Trailhead

Distance: ~10 miles

If you’re looking for a quieter trail in Rocky Mountain National Park, 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 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

best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park

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 in Rocky Mountain National Park. 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

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

best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park

Where to start: Bear Lake Trailhead

Distance: ~10.5 miles

A more strenuous Rocky Mountain National Park 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.

Want a complete getaway this summer? Check out 9 best places in Sierra Nevada to escape crowds. And don’t forget to follow Family Traveller on Instagram and Facebook and share your travel plans – or just say ‘hi’.