Located in Northern Colorado, Estes Park is one of the state’s most popular towns.
This is due to its proximity to the Rocky Mountain National Park, widely considered to be one of the best national parks in the country!
Many base themselves in Estes Park while exploring the surrounding areas and all it has to offer.
Estes Park’s location lends itself to many outdoor activities, with one of the most popular being snowshoeing.
Snowshoeing involves walking on snow wearing special shoes that prevent the wearer from sinking into the snow.
This means that trails that can usually only be hiked during the warmer months can be accessed with the help of snowshoes.
Some of the best snowshoeing trails in the country are located right by Estes Park, ranging from beginner and family-friendly trails, all the way to those more suitable for seasoned pros.
To help you figure out which trail is most suitable for your next snowshoeing expedition in Estes Park, we’ve put together this handy guide, covering;
- The best snowshoeing trails in Estes Park
- Our top tips to ensure you have the best (and safest) snowshoeing trip possible.
Let’s get into it!
Best snowshoeing trails in Estes Park
Due to Estes Park’s location, it is close to an enormous amount of snowshoeing trails.
If you aren’t familiar with the park and its trails, it can be hard to figure out which is the right one for you!
Here are some of the best Estes Park snowshoeing trails, ranging from beginner to advanced levels of difficulty:
Bear Lake Loop
Located right by Estes Park in the Rocky Mountain National Park, Bear Lake Loop is one of the park’s most popular trails and is perfect for snowshoeing.
Starting from the end of Bear Lake Road, the trail takes you counterclockwise around the subalpine lake, passing through fir, aspen, pine, and spruce forests.
This is the perfect trail for beginners as it contains only a few steep sections that are very manageable even for the most inexperienced of snowshoers.
The high-altitude Nymph Lake in the Rocky Mountain National Park is another fantastic snowshoeing location near Estes Park.
Like the Bear Lake Loop, it is located at the end of Bear Lake Road. Gowever, it instead branches off to the left, while Bear Lake Loop branches right.
The trail is considered to be of medium difficulty for snowshoeing as there is a small incline for most of the journey. However, once you reach the end you are rewarded with stunning views of the lake and the surrounding scenery!
If you’re looking for a more challenging snowshoeing route, the trail to Dream Lake might be the right choice for you.
Initially following the Bear Lake and Nymph Lake trails, you continue upwards to reach the eastern end of Dream Lake.
Due to the level of ruggedness this trail offers, we recommend that only those who are confident or experienced snowshoers give it a go.
Located to the west of Estes Park Rocky Mountain Park, Cub Lake is another ideal snowshoeing location!
The trail takes you through breathtaking scenery, as well as the areas that were ravaged by the 2012 Fern Lake Fire.
Unfortunately, this means that the once-stunning trees that surrounded the lake are no more; however, there are still expansive westward views of Stones Peak and the wildlife that populates the area.
This is a very popular trail amongst snowshoers, so make sure you start your journey early in the morning if you wish to beat the crowds.
If you’re looking for a visually stunning snowshoeing trail that will also push you physically, you cannot go past the Mills Lake trail.
Accessed via the Glacier Gorge trail in Rocky Mountain Park, the journey is a 5.4-mile uphill trek that leads to the stunning lake named after one of the Park’s founders.
The trail takes you past streambeds and waterfalls, as well as offering views of mountain ridges and breathtaking forests. This is an extremely popular trail for snowshoers looking for routes near Estes Park.
Moraine Park is one of the best Estes Park snowshoeing locations for those who are wildlife lovers.
Widely considered to be one of the best places to spot elk in the winter, Moraine Park trail offers a moderately challenging snowshoeing route that provides wonderful views of Snowdrift Peak and Snows Peak!
Keep in mind that the trailhead for this loop is unmarked, so make sure you do your research and bring a suitable map to ensure you locate the trail with ease.
If you want to take the whole family snowshoeing, the Sprague Lake trail is perfect.
At only 0.7 miles long, snowshoeing on this trail shouldn’t take too long. As it was designed with families in mind, the trail is peppered with benches and resting spots.
As such, you can take a break if needed, or can simply sit and take in the beautiful scenery of Sprague Lake! The lake is home to some incredible wildlife, so make sure you keep your eyes open as you never know what you could spot.
Located in the northeastern portion of the Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park is Deer Mountain.
This is a widely popular snowshoeing spot thanks to the forgiving terrain.
However, don’t underestimate the incline! This trail may be challenging for some, especially beginner snowshoers.
The trail takes you through an open valley and densely covered aspen forest, so you get to see everything the park has to offer. At the top is a summit marker that is the perfect photo opportunity to show off the day’s climb.
Twin Sisters Peak
Perhaps one of the most challenging snowshoeing locations near Estes Park is the Twin Sisters Peak trail.
This trail is 7.4 miles as a round trip and takes you through not only the Rock Mountain National Park but also the Roosevelt National Forest!
There are two peaks available to the summit on this route (hence the name “Twin Sisters”); however, the more popular of the two is the western peak as its ascension is significantly easier.
If you are looking to challenge yourself while snowshoeing while also taking in everything that Colorado’s natural scenery has to offer, this is the perfect trail!
Tips For Snowshoeing In Estes Park
Whether you’re an experienced snowshoer, or it is your first time engaging in the sport, the key to a successful trip is being prepared.
We have compiled a list of our top tips for snowshoeing in Estes Park to ensure your trip goes off without a hitch:
- Dress warmly: One of the biggest factors in a successful Estes Park snowshoeing trip is to have adequate clothing.
During the snowshoeing season, temperatures are quite literally freezing, so you need to make sure you have warm layers that you can take on and off as needed.
Make sure you also bring a waterproof outlier in case you get wet, as soaking clothes can quickly turn freezing in Estes Park!
- Prepare for park entrance fees: Most of the snowshoeing locations near Estes Park are located in the Rocky Mountain National Park, which requires a fee to enter.
Make sure you are aware of this and are ready to pay upon entering. Fees range from $15 – $35 per person, depending on if you have a vehicle (and if so, what type it is).
- Bring a map and compass: While most snowshoeing trails are marked, this is not a guarantee.
Furthermore, weather and natural events can cause trail markers to disappear or become damaged, so you must have something else to help you navigate while snowshoeing.
Bringing a map and a compass is a surefire way to ensure you have a means of navigating the park at all times. Check out some of the official Estes Park maps here to find the one you need!
- Be aware of your surroundings: Snowshoeing can be a potentially dangerous activity, so you need to be aware of your surroundings at all times.
Estes Park and its surroundings are home to some beautiful but dangerous wildlife, including deer, moose, and bison.
Additionally, the snow and rocky formations of the park make it susceptible to slips. Being aware of your surroundings at all times will help you to notice and avoid these hazards
- Take breaks: Snowshoeing is not like regular hiking as it can be very hard on the body, especially when there is dense snow and a steep incline.
Make sure you listen to your body and take breaks when needed. This will allow you to gain greater enjoyment out of your snowshoeing experience, and your body will thank you for it the next day!
- Have fun: The most important tip to keep in mind when snowshoeing in Estes Park is to have fun!
You are experiencing some of the best and most breathtaking natural scenery in the world, so make sure you are in the moment and take in as much as possible while snowshoeing.