Estes Park, Colorado
On our third day, we intended to hike Nymph to Dream to Emerald to Haiyaha lakes. It was another beautiful sunny day. We stopped at my favorite Estes Park coffee shop, Coffee on the Rocks. I love this place because it sits right next to the river and a duck pond, and is nestled in the mountains. There is lots of flowers and outdoor seating as well. You can feed the ducks for $1, which we did.
Our hike ended up being close to 9 miles instead of the planned out 5.5, but we both felt good and the views were just so pretty we decided to extend it. We hiked to Nymph Lake first (0.5mi), then Dream Lake (1.1 mi) and then Emerald Lake (1.8 mi).
At this point we decided to go back and up to Lake Haiyaha, and it did not disappoint. The trail took us higher up into the mountain; we were able to see Nymph and Bear lake from way up.
Lake Haiyaha is bigger than Dream or Emerald lake, a beautiful sparkling emerald/teal color embedded in the steep rocky mountains. I would highly recommend doing this hike! From this point on, we could either backtrack and go back down the way we came by dream lake, or add on some mileage and go to the Glacier Gorge trailhead.
This trail winds downhill through the forest, all the while with gorgeous mountain views. After about 2 miles we reached a junction that went to either Mills lake or the Loch. Mills lake was my absolute favorite back in June so we opted for this route and we were not disappointed. The fiery fall colors of the aspen trees set against the black rocks and jagged mountains were stunning. As we approached the lake, a hailstorm broke out so we rested and snacked for a little bit. For the rest of our hike down it was either raining, hailing, or cloudy, but this added a neat element to the scenery. The yellow leaves popped out all the more.
The way down from Mills lake is entirely downhill with fairly open, panoramic views. With about one mile to go we passed by the magnificent Alberta Falls. We made it down to the bottom of the trail at just the right time, as the storms had rolled in and we could no longer see the mountain tops.
It rained the remainder of the day so we went into downtown Estes Park and walked around the shops. Our favorite is the adorable, aesthetically-pleasing Trendz shop. It is designed to be warm, inviting, and very mountain –esque. For dinner we had burgers and elk shepherd’s pie at the Grubsteak Pub.
http://www.rockymountainhikingtrails.com/emerald-lake.htm –> Emerald Lake
http://www.rockymountainhikingtrails.com/lake-haiyaha.htm –> Lake Haiyaha
http://www.rockymountainhikingtrails.com/dream-lake.htm –> Dream Lake