Lily Mountain

March 30, 2022


Estes Park, CO

Lily Mountain is a small peak on the edge of Rocky Mountain National Park not far from Longs Peak. I noticed this peak simply by browsing the maps. A trail appeared to go all the way to the summit. The weather on this day was in favour of the northern ranges of the Rockies so I directed my bearing towards Estes Park. The primary objective was Twin Sisters Peaks which boasts over 600 m prominence. The better weather was towards the second half of the day, so I decided to hike up Lily Mountain first to check out the area.

I drove the rental Mitsubishi out of Arthur’s apartment in Golden at sunrise and made to Boulder in less than an hour. The traffic was surprisingly not bad in the morning rush hour. The road to Estes Park was scenic and the weather appeared better than forecasted. I stopped in Estes Park for gas and breakfast and right away I noticed something. The temperature was nowhere as warm as a couple days ago and the wind was quite strong. I had to instantly shift my mentality back to “winter” and dress accordingly for the hikes. The official Lily Mountain trail seemed contrived as the first leg simply just parallels the road for about 2 km without doing much. I don’t know why they built the trail that way. I found a pull-out about 1 km north of the official trail-head and opted to take a short-cut.

Lily Mountain hiking trail with a short-cut start. GPX DL

I decided to not carry snowshoes as I had researched this trail on AllTrails. This seemed like a very popular hike all year round so the “trench” must have been made by other hikers, and my bid was correct. The short-cut worked out perfectly and the “bushwhack” was rather just cross-country travel in open forest. In short time I joined the official trail. I thought about to keep short-cutting but I started to see more and more snow patches. Without snowshoes it would be smarter to stick to the path from this point onward. The trail did some annoying downhill while traversing northwards and again, I had no clue why it had to be built this way.

Twin Sisters Peaks from the lower slopes on Lily Mountain
The typical forest in the lower forest, perfect for taking short-cuts

There were some trail junctions but the main path turned onto the NE Ridge of Lily Mountain and would eventually follow this broad, forested ridge to the summit. The ascent was rather boring until nearing the summit where the views opened up. The winds were cold and fierce as expected. The summit actually offered 360-degree views but I could not linger too long thank to the coldness.

The “trench” that ascends the broad NE Ridge
Nearing the summit the terrain became rocky
Summit Panorama from Lily Mountain. Click to view large size.
Twin Sisters Peaks which would be my primary objective in this day
Other non-14ers peaks in Rocky Mountain National Park soaked in clouds
Looking back north towards Estes Park and Prospect Mountain
It seems like there are a lot of craggy towers in the lower-elevation zone here
Longs Peak is the only 14er in this national park, with Mt. Meeker to the left
Me on the summit of Lily Mountain
Me with Longs Peak and Mt. Meeker behind

I took my time to descend and checked out a few smaller viewpoints labelled on the Gaia map. These viewpoints weren’t nearly as good as the summit itself, so I quickly moved on. I followed my own short-cut back to the car at the end of the hike. I quickly ate a can of Progresso before resuming the short drive to Twin Sisters’ trail-head.

Time to descend. This was rather the typical view in the forest…
I opted to check out another viewpoint, which was rather so-so
Another viewpoint right on the trail in the lower zone
I found some cool rock formation to play with…
Lily Mountain south ridge from a different parking spot.