With only a short drive from Estes Park, the whole family can enjoy this easy, ADA-accessible loop around Lily Lake within a scenic corner of Rocky Mountain National Park. While taking in views of granite crags, high mountains, and pine forests, kids can splash in cold, clear water at the lake's edge. It is stocked with federally-protected greenback cutthroat trout, which you are allowed to fish for as catch and release. Other wildlife to look for include ducks and herons in the water and hummingbirds around the numerous wildflowers. Deer and elk may be spotted grazing in the meadows surrounding the lake, but continual human presence makes these only an occasional sight.
There are various benches and picnic areas along the trail and near the parking lot as well as shady areas beneath trees. Restrooms are available at the trailhead. If you want to extend your hike, there are a few side trails that are accessible from the main loop, including the steep Lily Ridge Trail that climbs toward the impressive rock fins in the boulder field known as Jurrassic Park. You can also hike up Estes Cone by taking Storm Pass Trail from the lake loop.
Lily Lake was a special place to Enos Mills, a settler to this area who was instrumental in the founding of Rocky Mountain National Park. For a brief history lesson on Enos and his legacy, pause to read informative signs near the trailhead.