Lily Lake offers splendid views of Longs Peak and Mount Meeker amid rocky outcrops. The broad, flat path begins by winding along the base of Lily Mountain, then meanders through meadow and open forest on the west shore of the lake, and finally passes through a wetlands area, populated by a variety of water fowl, on the southern shore. This level packed gravel trail encircles the lake, which features educational exhibits and a fishing pier. Strollers permitted. Enos Mills, the “father of Rocky Mountain National Park,” enjoyed walking to Lily Lake from his nearby cabin. Look for wildflowers in the spring and early summer. In the winter the trail around the lake is often suitable for walking in boots, or as a short snowshoe or ski.
Lily Lake offers hikers some of the best mountain views from an easy, roadside trail. The Diamond Face of Longs Peak towers to the south; the Twin Sisters, rocky escarpments skirted in scenic woodlands, lie to the east; and Lily Mountain, yet another spectacular stone-crowned peak, dominates the northern horizon. If you have the time, you can hike the nearby Lily Mountain trail, which lies outside the park proper.
To reach the trailhead from Estes Park, drive 6.3 miles south on Colorado Highway 7 to the Lily Lake parking area. You can park at the lake or in a dirt lot across the highway. In 1992 the Lily Lake area was purchased by Rocky Mountain National Park. Five years later, with funding from the Rocky Mountain Conservancy, the popular handicapped accessible trail was constructed using hard packed gravel. Although you can start in either direction, this description follows the loop in a clockwise direction.
In addition to being an outstanding family hike, the trail offers several picnic opportunities along the way. Fishing is also a popular activity, but is catch and release only. The lake is stocked with greenback cutthroat trout, a federally listed threatened species.
Photographer and graphic artist Rob Decker studied photography with Ansel Adams in Yosemite National Park during the summer of 1979 when he was just 19. IT was an experience solidified his love of photography and our National Parks. Now he is on a journey to photograph and create iconic WPA-style posters of all 59 major national parks as we celebrate the next 100 years of the National Park Service.
Click the images below to check out his three Rocky Mountain National Park posters!