On Saturday Molly and I headed out for a quick afternoon hike in RMNP. We had hoped to climb up Estes Cone from Lily Lake but didn't get to the TH until 2:45. The Cone was 8 miles round trip with a lot of elevation gain so we knew we didn't have a chance to get up and down before dark (sunset was at 5). So we picked a turn around time of 4:15 and just planned to see how far we got.
The hike started off from the Lily Lake parking lot and headed south around the lake. We were surprised to see that the lake was nearly frozen over. The temp was right around 40 with overcast skies. It was the kind of weather that was chilly if you were sitting still but once you got hiking, it was great.
The Storm Pass trial quickly branches off from the lake trail. In fact, it branched off so quickly we missed it and ended up having to backtrack when we noticed that we had walked nearly halfway around the lake.
The Storm Pass trail is very beautiful. After leaving Lily lake you drop down into a valley thick with pine trees. Mmmmm, the smell. An impressive foot bridge over a creek marks the end of the descent.
Now it was time to start walking uphill. I think the last 3 miles to the summit are all uphill but the grade is pretty mellow.
After a little bit of hiking you start to get above the valley and the views start to open up. Plus there are excellent boulders along the way to play on.
Here is my happy to be outside face
The trail kept on gaining altitude
It was starting to get close to our turn around time so we checked the map for the nearest summit. We had to get on top of something!
So we decided on THAT ONE!
Of course it required a little bushwacking, which is something I really enjoy but Molly isn't quite so fond of. We ended up cutting through a forest that had been burned in the past. Lots of dead fall and small trees.
After a bit of scrambling we ended up on top, where it was windy and cold!
From the top we had a nice view of Lily Lake (and the parking lot) where we started.
After a few minutes on top, we dropped down into the trees again and bushwacked back to the trail. The hike back to the TH was fast and mostly down hill. Along the way we discovered this old fireplace sitting back in the woods. There must of been a cabin here back in the day.
Well, we beat the setting sun back to the car. By the time we got there, the temperature had dropped to the mid 30's and there was a cold wind blowing off the lake. It was a great little hike. Probably about 5 miles over 2 hours. It is always nice to get out into the mountains and getting off the beaten path is a nice bonus.