Trail Reviews: Lily Mountain – Estes Park, CO
Distance: 4.0 miles
Standing at 9,786ft, the peak of Lily Mountain boasts some of the most incredible and uninterrupted views of Mt. Meeker, Longs Peak, Twin Sisters Peak, and other peaks composing the Continental Divide and Mummy Range.
If you’re not paying close attention you just might miss the trailhead as it’s tucked in just off the side of Highway 7. There is no parking lot, but rather a small turnoff. This small space can fill up quickly so be sure to arrive early or at a time that won’t be busy. If the lot is full, you can park in the Lily Lake parking lot and walk ¼-mile in the direction of the trailhead.
The hike begins smoothly, guiding you along a level trail on the side if Lily mountain. The trail is a mix of ice and dirt, and traction devices are highly recommended (I slipped multiple times on the way down after both of my Yaktrax decided to break). At approximately ¾ of a mile in, you will begin to gradually ascend up the mountain. Very quickly, the trail becomes increasingly steeper the higher you ascend through the trees and up the mountains.
The trail can be a bit difficult to navigate at times and I found myself wandering off the trail a few times before redirecting myself in the direction I thought the trail would be in (I was the first on the trail and had no tracks to follow). The snow does not make it any easier to follow the trail as the blanket of snow covers any indication of a trail whatsoever. Despite using two different navigation devices, the trail still managed to escape me now and then. I forged my way up through the forest regardless of whether or not I was following the path. Eventually, I would find myself back on the trail.
As you approach the top of the mountain, the trail seems to disappear, and it becomes a free for all. The last section is more or less a scree climb to the top of the mountain. Be patient with the climb as you will likely be on all fours scrambling to the top. Once you reach the top, the reward is far greater than your efforts; with 360-degree panoramic views, you will find yourself completely enveloped by mountains. Every which way you turn to look offers breathtaking views that you simply can’t escape, but then again, why would you want to?