Deer Mountain is one of the easier hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park that offers high mountain views.
To get to the peak, it’s an almost constant uphill walk through an evergreen forest. You will get occasional glimpses of Longs Peak early on during the hike, but for the most part, you will have to wait until you reach the summit for the best views. From the summit of Deer Mountain, enjoy views over Moraine Valley and out to Longs Peak and the surrounding mountains.
This is a nice hike but it it lacks some of the excitement you get from other hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. Yes, the views from the summit are beautiful, but this hike is a bit boring at times, since it is an almost constant uphill climb through a forest.
However, if you want to hike a lower-traffic trail that is just a short drive from Estes Park, this is a nice one to consider.
Deer Mountain is also a great hike for newbie hikers who want to summit a mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park. It also makes a nice acclimatization hike if you just arrived in Colorado and want to warm up your legs and cardio system, before tackling hikes like Chasm Lake, Flattop Mountain, or Mt. Ida.
Facts About the Hike
Distance: 6.2 miles round-trip
Starting Elevation (trailhead): 8,977 feet
Highest Elevation (Deer Mountain summit): 10,006 feet
Total Elevation Gain: 1,482 feet
Length of Time: 2.5 to 4 hours
Deer Mountain Hike
Getting to the Trailhead
The Deer Mountain Trailhead is located on Trail Ridge Road, 3 miles west of the Beaver Meadows entrance. If you are staying in Estes Park, it is a 20-minute drive to get here.
Parking is limited, with approximately 8 spaces on either side of Trail Ridge Road. There are a few additional spaces on Fall River Road. To get a spot, plan to get here early, ideally no later than 7:30 am during the busy summer months.
Hiking Deer Mountain
The trail to the summit of Deer Mountain is well marked and easy to follow. Just a few minutes into the hike the trail will come to a fork. Stay to the right to continue on the South Deer Mountain Trail. There will be a sign here pointing you in the correct direction.
For the first quarter of the hike, it’s a leisurely uphill walk. Occasionally, you will have a nice view out to Long’s Peak.
Once you hit the first switchback, the hike gets to be more strenuous. This is the hardest and most monotonous section of the hike, since this part of the trail is all about getting you up to the summit. During this section of the hike, the beautiful views of Longs Peak are gone. But not to worry, it will all be worth it once you get to the summit.
Near the summit, the trail flattens out for a little bit, and even goes downhill briefly, a nice break for your legs. Then it’s just one final uphill climb to the summit.
Once on the summit, there are several trails that take you to different viewpoints. From the top of Deer Mountain, you will look out over Estes Park, Moraine Park, Longs Peak, and Trail Ridge Road.
To complete the hike, retrace your steps back down the same trail.
Tips to Have the Best Experience
Start the hike early, ideally by 7:30 am. You need to get here early in order to get a parking space. Also, during the summer months, afternoon thunderstorms are common, typically occurring by 2 pm. To avoid the storms, return to the parking lot by 2 pm.
Leave No Trace. When you are in the park, practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace. This includes packing out what you bring into the park, be considerate of other hikers, stay on the trail, and do not remove anything from the park.
Wear hiking shoes or a good pair of walking shoes. As long as there is no snow on the ground, a good pair of walking shoes or running shoes are sufficient. The trail is rocky and uneven but hiking shoes are not necessary for this hike.
If you have any questions about hiking Deer Mountain, let us know in the comment section below. Happy Hiking!!
More Information for Your Trip to RMNP:
- 15 Best Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park
- Sky Pond: One of the Best Hikes in RMNP
- Bear Lake to Odessa Lake to Fern Lake Hike
- Gem Lake Hike, Rocky Mountain National Park
- Twin Sisters Peak Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park
If this is part of a bigger road trip through the USA, visit our United States Destination Guide for more inspiration and travel planning tips.
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