Flattop Mountain is a tundra hike and the easiest hike to the Continental Divide in the park. Crossing over Flattop Mountain, the hike to Hallett Peak passes through three climate zones, traversing the ridge that supports Tyndall Glacier and finally ascending to the summit of Hallett Peak.
Bear Lake is a high-elevation lake in a spruce and fir forest at the base of Hallett Peak and Flattop Mountain. Bierstadt Lake sits atop a lateral moraine named Bierstadt Moraine, and drains into Mill Creek. There are several trails that lead to Bierstadt Lake through groves of aspens and lodgepole pines. North of Bierstadt Moraine is Hollowell Park, a large and marshy meadow along Mill Creek. The Hollowell Park trail runs along Steep Mountain’s south side. Ranches, lumber and sawmill enterprises operated in Hollowell Park into the early 1900s.
Glacial Basin was the site of a resort run by Abner and Alberta Sprague, after whom Sprague Lake is named. The lake is a shallow body of water that was created when the Spragues dammed Boulder Brook to create a fish pond. Sprague Lake is a popular place for birdwatching, hiking and viewing the mountain peaks, along with camping at the Glacier Basin campground.
Rocky mountains National Park
Maroon Bells, Aspen, Colorado
Aspen Mountain is not particularly high, relative to other mountains in Colorado, but nonetheless looms over the town of Aspen because of the proximity of the town, which was founded as a silver mining camp in 1879 during the Colorado Silver Boom. The mountain flank was the site of intense mining activity in the late 1880s and early 1890s, with many remains of mining activity below and on the surface of the mountain. In the middle 20th century it became the site of recreational downhill skiing. In 1946, the newly formed Aspen Skiing Company, founded by Walter Paepcke, built the first chairlift to the top of the mountain and opened the ski area that bears the name of the mountain. Nowadays, people use a modern gondola, which holds six people, to get to the top of the mountain.
Emerald Lake and Hallett Peak area. Rocky mountains National park.
Emerald Lake and Hallett Peak
Dream Lake is one of the most-photographed lakes and is also noted for its winter snowshoeing. Emerald Lake is located directly below the saddle between Hallett Peak and Flattop Mountain, only a short hike beyond Dream Lake. The shore of Lake Haiyaha (a Native American word for “big rocks”) is surrounded by boulders along with ancient, twisted and picturesque pine trees growing out of rock crevices. Nymph Lake is named for the yellow lily, Nymphaea polysepala, on its surface. Lake Helene is at the head of Odessa Gorge, east of Notchtop Mountain. Two Rivers Lake is found along the hike to Odessa Lake from Bear Lake, and has one backcountry campsite. The Cub Lake trail passes Big Thompson River, flowery meadows, and stands of pine and aspen trees. Ice and deep snow are present during the winter, requiring the use of skis or snowshoes.
The Fern Lake trail passes Arch Rock formations, The Pool, and the cascading water of Fern Falls. Two backcountry campsites are located near the lake, and two more are closer to the trailhead. Odessa Lake has two approaches: one is along the Flattop trail from Bear Lake while the other is from the Fern Lake trailhead, along which are Fern Creek, The Pool, Fern Falls, and Fern Lake itself. One backcountry campsite is available. Other lakes are Jewel Lake, Mills Lake, Black Lake, Blue Lake, Lake of Glass, Sky Pond, and Spruce Lake.
Elks. Early morning.
The Big Meadows area with its grasses and wildflowers can be reached via the Onahu, Tonahutu, or Green Mountain trail. Other scenic areas include Long Meadows and the Kawuneeche Valley (Coyote Valley) of the upper Colorado River which is a good place for birdwatching, as well as snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in winter. The valley trail loops through Kawuneeche Valley which contained as many as 39 mines, though less than 20 of those have archived records and archeological remains. LuLu City is the site of an abandoned silver mining town of the early 1880s located along the Colorado River Trail. According to a 1985 report prepared for the NRHP, there were only three cabin ruins remaining along with remnants of six other buildings.
Baker Pass crosses the Continental Divide through the Never Summer Mountains and into the Michigan River drainage to the west of Mount Nimbus—a drainage that feeds streams and rivers that drain into the Gulf of Mexico. Other mountain passes are La Poudre Pass and Thunder Pass, which was once used by stage coaches and is a route to Michigan Lakes. Little Yellowstone has geological features similar to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. The Green Mountain trail once was a wagon road used to haul hay from Big Meadows. Flattop Mountain, which can be accessed from the eastern and western sides of the park, is near Green Mountain. Shadow Mountain Lookout—a wildfire observation tower—is on the National Register of Historic Places. Paradise Park Natural Area is an essentially hidden and protected wild area with no maintained trails penetrating it.
Skeleton Gulch, Cascade Falls, North Inlet Falls, Granite Falls, and Adams Falls are found in the west side of the park. The west side lakes include Bowen Lake, Lake Verna, Lake of the Clouds, Haynach Lakes, Timber Lake, Lone Pine Lake, Lake Nanita, and Lake Nokoni.