Lumpy Ridge rises above Estes Park, CO, concealing climbing routes, elk and deer herds, campsites, and an alpine lake. Get a full tour on this 10.2-mile dayhike or spend a night or two at one of the trailside campsites. From the trailhead, head up the Gem Lake Trail, winding through conifers. At mile 1.5 is Gem Lake, an alpine pool with no outlet stream, tucked under the rocky cliffs. In about a mile, turn right onto Balanced Rock Trail.
Ahead, the trail turns west and follows Cow Creek (and its namesake trail). Over the next few miles this loop passes three established campsites: Rabbit Ears (milepoint 4.2), Peregrine (milepoint 5), and Sundance (milepoint 7.8). Backcountry permits required. Turn left (south) after 6 miles and begin the loop back to the trailhead, passing through a short stretch of private property, under impressive cliffs, and long views to Longs Peak, the highest and the only 14,000-foot peak in Rocky Mountain National Park.
INFO For information on permits, current trail and camp conditions, and wilderness guidelines, go to nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/backcountry.htm
PERMIT A wilderness permit is required for all overnight camping in the backcountry. Reservations accepted ($20 administrative fee for permits during peak season). nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/backcntry_guide.htm
CONTACT Rocky Mountain National Park, (970) 586-1206; nps.gov/romo
-Mapped by Jeff Chow