One of the most popular loops in Estes Park, this loop passes through open meadows and wooded areas, all while giving the hiker stunning views of unique local geology. With one steep ascent, and rolling trail after that, any trail user is sure to feel the burn on this loop.
If you have time, the extra trip up to Bridal Veil Falls adds a beautiful viewpoint, as well as a great place to take a much-deserved break!
If you choose to take this loop clockwise, you'll be starting out headed towards the Black Canyon Trail
. Take the Lumpy Ridge Trail
to start, and then branch to the left at the first junction.
The Black Canyon Trail
starts on a gentle descent, so take your time getting warmed up. This section passes through open grasslands, so there are plenty of unobstructed views. Take in the scenery, and enjoy Estes Park's unique geology as you start to ascend to your next trail junction.
At this junction, take a right-hand turn onto the Dark Mountain Trail
, which will connect you to the Cow Creek Trail
. Once on Cow Creek, you'll be following the trail's namesake creek. Bridal Veil Falls is located at the top of the creek, and the view is worth the detour if you're up for the extra mileage!
Once you're ready to continue on to the Gem Lake Trail
, take another right at the junction with the Cow Creek Trail
. You'll want to save a little bit of energy for the end, as this trail travels through rugged outcroppings. The travel will be mostly downhill at this point, so keep an eye on your footing.