Lily Mountain – Hiking Trail for Dogs – Estes Park, Colorado

Lily Mountain is in the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland. It is not a part of Rocky Mountain National Park and, thus, dogs are allowed on the trail. The trailhead is 10 minutes from Estes Lake in Estes Park, Colorado and is located on the western side of CO-7. Parking is free, albeit it is only limited to 4-6 cars. The trailhead does not have water, restrooms, or maps. The primary activity is hiking with permits required for camping. Motorized vehicles, mountain bikes, and horses are not allowed. Notably, the Lily Lake trails can be found only a half mile down the road and provide a more family friendly hiking experience. The following Google map contains an estimated line that should only be used to get the idea that the trail runs north for a mile before heading south towards the summit.

Lily Mountain trail is a 1.9 mile hike to the summit with a change in elevation of 940 feet, from 8,800 feet to 9,740 feet. The first mile is an easy, rolling jaunt with elevation changes in both directions and views to the north and east.

The second mile is more difficult because it is steeper. Nordic walking poles are recommended to reduce stress on ankles, knees, and hips when hiking down terrain like this. For the most part, staying on the trail is easy but the last mile is marked with cairns. As depicted in the following picture, the final several hundred feet requires the use of your hands to pull yourself up and over numerous rock conglomerations.

The summit is an amazing place to have a picnic because it has an unobstructed view of the entire Estes Park valley and enough level ground with which to relax on.

The summit provides a 360 degree view that includes Longs Peak, Mount Meeker, Twin Sisters Mountain, Estes Cone, and Estes Valley.

In sum, the Lily Mountain trail is a challenging but equally rewarding hike with varied terrain and an unmatched combination of summit accessibility for day hikers, 360 degree majestic views, and enough space on the summit to comfortably eat lunch.

9 thoughts on “Lily Mountain – Hiking Trail for Dogs – Estes Park, Colorado

  1. Hi Robert, Big fan of your Blog. I have hiked 3 of the same trails in the last month. Your info helped me to choose the right one's for the amount of time alloted and difficulty levels. Do you have any more info on backcountry camping? ( locations and rules )Thank you,Jeff

  2. Jeff, I am glad our blog was helpful, thank you. Regarding backcountry camping, three options come to mind: Rocky Mountain National Park (call the visitor center), Lory State Park (call the park office), and Mount Margaret. Regarding rules, Lory State Park and Mount Margaret have designated backcountry camp sites so that you can minimize impact to the local ecosystem. I am not sure if Rocky Mountain National Park has designated sites but they do require a backcountry permit which likely includes an orientation session that reviews the rules. My guess is that all three locations advocate Leave No Trace principles as their primary rules.

  3. Thank you for the comments on these trails they are a wonderful hike, BUT BE WARNED, they no longer allow dogs on these trails. I don’t know when they changed it but it can be a very unhappy discovery if you drove a long way to hike them with your faithful companion.

  4. I jut got home from this climb and although I didn’t bring my dogs, I COULD HAVE. The Federal sign specifically states that dogs are allowed on trail but must be leashed. My corgies would have never made it to the top :) their little legs are just too short.

    • BTW – the view from the top is AMAZING! Thanks for recommending this hike. My favorite part is the rock climb at the top. Its like dessert after a satisfying meal.

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