Rocky Mountain National Park: Lily Lake to Estes Cone

This moderately challenging 7.2-mile hike to a photogenic summit proves that sometimes it's not how high you climb--it's where you climb.
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This moderately challenging 7.2-mile hike to a photogenic summit proves that sometimes it's not how high you climb--it's where you climb.

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 Kris Wagner

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 11.6

Waypoints

ECC001

Location: 40.306419, -105.538002

Begin on wide, crushed-stone path

ECC002

Location: 40.304729, -105.540298

Veer L onto 2-track dirt road (poorly marked). In a few strides, swing R onto thin trail, following signs to Estes Cone

ECC003

Location: 40.30283, -105.541702

Veer L onto 2-track dirt road (poorly marked). In a few strides, swing R onto thin trail, following signs to Estes Cone

ECC004

Location: 40.301849, -105.5448

Stairs drop into an offshoot of Aspen Brook, deeply cut from rapid spring melt (only a trickle in midsummer)

ECC005

Location: 40.300468, -105.545601

Go straight @ 4-way; immediately cross bridge. Trail begins climbing

ECC006

Location: 40.304401, -105.550102

Cross more bridges and under a few large, life­less aspens where hawks prey on squirrels and mice in the forest duff. Eventually, pass through short hallway of tilted rocks to a brief overlook above Lily Lake

ECC007

Location: 40.301201, -105.557198

After a few switchbacks, trail eases briefly near two VW-bug-sized rocks among conifers and stacks of deadfall tinder. Intermittent views of the Twin Sisters to E

ECC008

Location: 40.294472, -105.560402

Path boomerangs around the W side of Estes Cone

ECC009

Location: 40.29187, -105.569099

Hulking, sheer Diamond Face of Longs Peak dominates W horizon. Keep hiking: Eye candy gets better!

ECC010

Location: 40.293049, -105.573799

Reach Storm Pass; turn R to begin short, steep ascent of Estes Cone

ECC011

Location: 40.294102, -105.570702

Caution: Rocky trail switchbacks @ odd places. Watch for random cairns

ECC012

Location: 40.295292, -105.567398

Estes Cone (11,006 ft.): Summit serves up views of dozens of snowy peaks, including Mt. Meeker and Longs Peak