It doesn’t matter if I’m preparing for an adventure up in the mountains, chasing after elk in the backwoods, or looking professional at work. There’s only one go-to brand for me, and that’s Stormy Kromer.
Whether it’s building my house, playing softball, or taking a break and throwing a line in the water. Needless to say, aside from work, you’ll find me outside. I’m a huge outdoorsman and love hunting, fishing and just being surrounded by nature. Growing up in the Colorado mountains taught me to truly love the outdoors from a young age.
My state has some of the most amazing hiking trails, mountain streams to fish, and wilderness areas to get lost chasing elk-I admit it can get overwhelming. Fortunately, our national parks serve as an excellent resource and opportunity for anyone looking to get in the woods.
Rocky Mountain National Park offers some of the most amazing hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing opportunities. One of my favorite hikes I highly recommend is the trail up to Lawn Lake above the alluvial fan. And don’t forget to pack your fishing rod, because you’ll have the opportunity to catch some beautiful greenback cutthroat trout.
With a 2,500 foot elevation change and 7 miles each way, this a full day adventure and has a steady incline the entire way up. If you choose, you can continue the trek up past Lawn Lake and continue to Big Crystal Lake, another amazing lake that is up on the saddle between Mummy Mountain and Hagues Peak.
On the morning of my hike, I always look forward to starting off with the brisk Mountain air. I always take one last check through my day pack before I head off. Always be prepared, especially on a long hike like this, and pack plenty of water. It’s hard to gauge how hydrated you are, so I recommend drinking water constantly. The trail follows along the river, so you’re accompanied by the sounds of roaring water the whole way. Depending on the time of year, the water can really be raging!
After that portion, you’ll hear the sound of an incredible waterfall that gets closer with every step. The sound is intimidating, rumbling and roaring as it races down the mountain. You’ll see some snow and the tree line in the distance. My adrenaline always kicks in as I know I’m nearing the lake, so I can imagine yours will too. If you want to see lots of wildlife, make sure you’re taking plenty of breaks and keeping your eyes up.
Once I approach Lawn Lake, I usually look for a remote spot to eat my lunch and cast a line for some of those cutthroat trout. If you can find the opposite shoreline, you’ll notice some large rocks which are perfect if you want to settle in for some low traffic. This is another chance to take in wildlife. I usually see marmots running around and even bald eagles soaring above the treetops.
If you’re looking for some unique camping spots, Mummy Mountain and Hagues Peak are incredible. You’ll need some permits, but at over 13,000 feet with views of the lake below, it’s worth any extra hurdles. I’ve even been lucky enough to encounter moose from no more than 10 feet away in this area!
After a few hours of taking in the views and fishing, it’s time to pick up and head back down the mountain. The elevation gained requires lots of hydration and the lake offers the perfect opportunity to replenish water reserves. I filter the lake water and refill my pack bladder. Although the water out here is better than most, I do not recommend drinking any water without filtering it first. Hiking back down offers some amazing views of snow capped peaks off in the distance. Be prepared for stops, because there are so many amazing opportunities for pictures.
Rocky Mountain National Park
If you’re looking for an incredible adventure and to escape your responsibilities, look no further than Rocky Mountain National Park, you won’t even remember that your phone doesn’t have service! My favorite part about this area is the 355 miles worth of trails in, I could never hike the same trail twice. If you’re lucky enough to be there during the rut you may even have the opportunity to hear the bizarre, ape-like sounds of a chuckle from a bull Elk trying to find that special lady! It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a day hike, or a multiple day backcountry adventure, Rocky Mountain National Park has it all.
West Creek Falls
Another incredible hike, located near the northeast corner of Rocky Mountain National Park, is West Creek Falls. This trail is only 4.5 miles to get to the falls and back, with a 1400 foot elevation change but absolutely worth the trek! The journey begins on a McGraw Ranch that was built back in 1884. The first part of the North Boundary Trail is climbing up over the ridge and dropping down into the next canyon. This portion of the trail offers some incredible views of the neighboring peaks, Mt. Meeker (13,916’) and Longs Peak(14,259’).
After dropping down into the canyon, the trail follows West Creek on up to the falls. Keep your eyes peeled, there are some breathtaking wildflowers and tons of wildlife, depending on the season. The tranquil sound of the thundering falls and breathtaking views make this hike one of my favorites. I usually pack a lunch, there are so many great places to stop and have a bite to eat.
Bear Lake Loop
Finally, a fantastic hike for all ages is the Bear Lake loop. It’s less than a mile hike and loops around the subalpine lake at 9,475’ elevation. I would recommend using Bear Lake as a warm up and continue on up to Dream Lake. The little over one mile hike will be over before you know it as you take in all the incredible scenery. It provides amazing views of the neighboring mountains. Emerald Lake can also be accessed from here if you continue almost another mile. It’s well worth the trip! Rocky Mountain National Park provides some of the most amazing hiking opportunities that everyone should have the chance to visit at some point. Just don’t forget your Kromer gear so you’re prepared for anything!