Here are some places to enjoy hiking with dogs in Estes Park.
1) Lake Estes. There is a large dog park near Lake Estes, at the intersection of Hwy 36 & Community Drive. You can also enjoy the mostly flat, paved trail that circles the lake in 3.8 miles.
2) Dogs are allowed inside Rocky Mountain National Park as long as they are leashed and kept by the roadside.
You cannot hike with your dog in Rocky Mountain National Park, but you can drive through with your dog and stop for a picnic, etc.
You can hike with your dog in Roosevelt National Forest, adjacent to Rocky Mountain National Park. Some of the trails mentioned below are on National Forest land.
3) Lily Mountain is a relatively short trail, at 3.8 miles round trip to the summit, over a moderate climb (1,006 ft. elevation gain). It is one of our favorite places for hiking with dogs in Estes Park.
The trailhead is located on Hwy 7, about 10 minutes south of Estes Park, on the right hand side of the road. The sign is fairly small but there are usually cars parked there. It is on Forest Service land just adjacent to the National Park.
4) The Homer Rouse Trail runs about 1.5 miles one way from a point on Fish Creek Road up to the Seven Keys Lodge (formerly the Baldpate Inn). There is a 705 ft. elevation gain from the road up to the inn, along an old road right-of-way, with lots of side paths running this way and that. If you hate elevation and you have two cars, you could start at the inn and just hike down.
Homer Rouse was a former superintendent of Rocky Mountain National Park, and he was always nice to us, even though we were just peons/brand new seasonal rangers at the time. RIP, Homer.
On the map below, the trailhead starts at the point where Fish Creek Road makes a right angle before heading up to Cheley Camps.
5) Kruger Rock is another moderate trail, 4 miles round trip, and a 900 ft. elevation gain, with outstanding panoramic views of the Estes Valley from the summit.
The trailhead is located at Hermit Park, a Larimer County Park. There is a small entrance fee, but the hike is well worth it. Hermit Park is about 2 miles outside of Estes Park on Hwy 36, near mile marker 4.
There is another trail leaving from Hermit Park that accesses Homestead Meadows, which has an interesting assortment of old homestead cabins from the late 1800s to early 1900s.
6) You can also reach Homestead Meadows via the Lion Gulch trail, located at mile marker 8 on US Hwy 36. There is no fee to use this trail, but the hike is somewhat longer and steeper than the trail from Hermit Park. There is access to a creek, if your pup is a swimmer. Note: Due to flooding in 2013, portions of this trail are closed, and it may not be possible to get all the way to Homestead Meadows via this route.
Many of the hikes on this Estes Valley trail map are good places for hiking with dogs in Estes Park; just pick the ones that are not in Rocky Mountain National Park.