Length: 5.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 732 feet
This classic run/hike from here at the lodge takes you through Little Horseshoe Park above Aspen Glen Campground. You do have to run a about 1.65 miles along Hwy 34 (round trip), but it’s worth it to get to these great trails!
Start out taking a right out of the lodge driveway (west) and run along Fall River Road. Get on the left side of the road and use extreme caution as there is really no shoulder to speak of. If you want more of a shoulder you can run on the right side of the road, but know that you won’t be able to see cars coming up behind you. Stay on the road for approximately .88 mile and you will veer off to the left down a small hill right at a small gravel pull-off a kiss before the entrance to the park (you will see a trail below you to the left).
Down the hill to the trail on the left.
Then head right (west) on the trail.
Go right on the trail. Note that this is the trail that National Park Gateway Stables uses for all of their rides and horses always have the right of way. If you do come up on a group of riders, just step off the trail until they pass.
You’ll go along the trail for a minute or two until you come to a road. This is the little drive into Aspen Glen Campground. Cross this and then take a left over Fall River on the bridge. This will turn back into the trail. You will soon come to a sign pointing the way for the loop trail. I usually run it clockwise and that is how this description will go. But if you want to go the opposite direction, go for it! So take a left at the Loop Trail sign.
Cross the road and take a left over the bridge.
This sign is about 30 yards after you cross Fall River. Follow the Loop Trail. You can go either direction.
From here, you will start to wind up into Little Horseshoe Park. This is a great place to see elk and mule deer! They are usually thick through here! In roughly .8 of a mile you will come to a trail junction with the North Deer Mountain Trail (that leads around Deer Mountain or up to Deer Ridge Junction). To stay on the loop trail, go right.
To stay on the Loop Trail, go right. Or take a left to head up to Deer Ridge Junction or the North Deer Mountain Trail.
Continue up this trail coming to a few smaller junctions. You can short cut this trail by following the ‘Loop Trail Shortcut’ sign. To complete the full loop, just follow the Loop Trail signs. There may be one sign that doesn’t say Loop Trail on it, but it points to Horseshoe Park, head that way.. it will be obvious. You run about 30+ yards on a Park Service dirt road as well, but the signs are abundant and it’s all marked very well. The Park Service road is the highpoint and from here it will be downhill or flat.
The park service road is the high point. You’re only on it for 30+ yards before following signs that turn right off the road leading downhill.
Once headed downhill, you’ll soon come to some beautiful open meadows. Look for elk and be sure to look behind you and to the left for some INCREDIBLE views of the Mummy Range! Like this one:
Mt. Chapin, Mt. Chiquita, & Mt. Ypsilon from the Loop Trail.
Follow the trail and you will soon be back at the original Loop Trail starting point. Take a left and you’ll see the bridge over Fall River just up ahead. From here, simply retrace your steps back to the lodge. The only tricky park is finding the right spot to pop back up onto the highway. Look for the ‘Estes Park City Limit’ sign. Just past that will be a 35 mph sign. Work your way up that little hill toward the 35 mph sign and you’ll pop back up in the right spot. Cross the road, carefully – it’s a busy highway, and head back down HWY 34 for .8ish miles and the lodge will be on your left!
You’ll turn uphill about here.
Head up the hill between the Estes Park City Limit sign and the 35 mph sign.
If you have any questions, stop in the lobby and ask! This is a wonderful loop that is a kind of staple for me, especially in the Spring and Fall months. It does get some pretty serious drifting in the winter, making it pretty tough to plod through.
- You do need a National Park Pass to be on trails within the National Park.
- On any run leaving and/or ending at McGregor Mountain Lodge, you will have to run some distance (+/- 1 mile usually, but sometimes more) along HWY 34, aka Fall River Road. Use extreme caution as you run along this highway.
- There are inherent dangers while running or trail running in the mountains. Please know the risks and take appropriate precautions.
- On trail runs, it is very smart to not run alone. Try to run with someone else and always let others know where you are going. You can email us at info@McGregorMountainLodge.com with details of where you’re going and when you intend to return, if you have no one else to tell.
- Trail conditions constantly change (weather, downed trees, washed out trails, etc). Use our maps only as a reference and know you may have to retrace your steps if a trail is too dangerous to pass or impassable for any other reason.