We were still adjusting to the altitude so we wanted a short and easy hike so I searched the internet for family friendly hikes and found this wonderful organized list of RMNP hikes by RockyMountainNationalPark.com. The hike was listed as 3.7 miles one way but we weren't attempting to hike an almost 8 mile trek with the kids on our first day. We decided we go out as far as we felt comfortable and turn back, I had been dealing with some post-root canal tooth pain so I wasn't keen on pushing it.
We picked the Lulu City trek which started on the Colorado River Trailhead. The trail it self was fairly flat other than the initial two switch backs at the beginning of the trail. We never made it to Shipler's Cabin or Lulu City, but like I mentioned earlier we just wanted to get out and hike. The trail was very beautiful, open meadows with hundreds of wildflowers, that followed the Colorado river. I was really amazed with all the "green" around me because I am so used to hiking in dry summer San Francisco East Bay hills.
Earlier in the day it hailed on us (we were in our cabin), a rare thing for Californians to experience, so the trail had tons of puddles for my children to splash in! Thank you +Hi-Tec USA for making awesome boots! My son was breaking in his brand new Hi-Tec Reno Waterproof Jr. Hiking boots for the first time in Rocky Mountain National Park! They still have some mud on it, the way it's supposed to be!
I'm so used to California "brown" summers that I was in love with every mushroom, fern and wildflower that I saw. Including the Colorado State Flower: The Rocky Mountain Columbine (2nd flower pictured), which stopped me dead in my tracks and I said, "That's the most beautiful flower I've ever seen!" It was all by itself in between some trees.
My son hiked most of the day and my daughter hiked small portions of the trail but was mostly carried. We made it to a very large open meadow on one side of the trail and a very rocky portion on the other side of the trail and decided to take a long break. My son climb on every rock he could, my daughter played in the dirt, while us parents tried to relax and snooze on the rocks.
We weren't sure how far the cabins were but decided we were going turn back after our break. After we finished the hike we were figured only 0.3 miles away from the cabins from the large meadow. Oh well, there will be a next time! We could see all the dead trees that were infected by the "beetle" along the trail and it was very prominent across the meadow on the mountainside. The rocky meadow was very picturesque and I wish we could have stayed for the sunset but we were all getting hungry and looking forward to having dinner at The Grand Lake Lodge.
We quickly packed up and headed back down the trail, stopped for a few breaks so the kids could skip rocks on the Colorado River. We also saw some elk in the far distances in a meadow. I was so excited to see wildlife since we had seen fresh tracks earlier in the day. We saw some moose and more elk on the drive back which was nice as well, but there something more exciting about seeing wildlife when there is nothing in between you and the animal.
I'm a "numbers" person so I always include our hiking information...about 3 hours averaging 1 mph. Some day we will hike faster!
9,300 ft is a big difference from hiking in the San Francisco Bay Area. I loved it!!
Our 3.6 mile trek in Rocky Mountain!
We had only seen a tiny portion of Rocky Mountain and I already fell in love with the park as well as the "Never Summer Wilderness" which was across the valley, on the trail we hiked. The name made me laugh, is it really "Never Summer" there? Off we went to the Grand Lake Lodge where we enjoyed our delicious dinner and view of Grand Lake and Rocky Mountain National Park!
Related Posts and Links: