Kruger Rock Trail: A Short Hike to Amazing Views

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Kruger Rock Trail is one of those hikes that have tremendous rewards with little effort. Sweeping views of the Rocky Mountains and Estes Park are accessed from the trail head Hermit Park Open Space, operated by Larimer County.

It’s the kind of trail that’s perfect for bringing those out of town guests.

Kruger Rock Trail Quick Facts

  • distance > 3.2 miles (round trip)
  • difficulty > moderate
  • elevation change > 977 ft (298 meters)
  • trail type > out and back
  • estimated time > 2 hours
  • nearest city > Estes Park, CO
  • dogs > yes, on leash
  • parking > at trail head, in Hermit Park Open Space ($6/vehicle)
You’ll be standing on top of that rock at the peak before you know it

Location

The Kruger Rock Trail is located inside Hermit Park Open Space in Estes Park.

The entrance to Hermit Park Open Space is off Highway 36, just a few miles southeast of downtown Estes Park. You’ll need to stop at the gate to purchase a day pass (this is required even if you are camping at the park).

Once inside the park, there is a bit of a drive to the trailhead.

Trail Highlights

The best part of the trail is Kruger Rock itself. There is an area carved into the rock that makes reaching the top of the massive rock is surprisingly easy. The views are spectacular and it makes for a great photo op!

on the summit of Kruger Rock in Estes Park CO
Hanging out at the very top of Kruger Rock in Estes Park

We were there in early fall, but the leaves were already starting to change to gold on the Aspens. We can’t wait to go back and see the peak of the fall colors.

With so many views along the trail, be prepared for this hike to take a little longer. You won’t be able to help but linger at the lookout points just a little bit longer.


You may also like: Family Hiking and a Peek Back in History at Caribou Ranch near Boulder


Distance & Difficulty of Kruger Rock Trail in Estes Park

This wasn’t a terribly long hike at less than 2 miles each way, but it is a consistent climb along a well-groomed trail.  With the 1,000 ft climb in elevation, it is rated at a moderate trail.

The first mile is a slower climb with fewer views, but you’ll reach those overlooks before you know it.

Frequent stops along the way to take in the views will give you plenty of time to rest throughout the climb to the summit.

aspen lined trails at Kruger Rock in Colorado
The first mile of the trail is a gentle slope

The Best Spots for Breaks and Picnics

The Pavilion at the Kruger Rock Trailhead

If you want to picnic before heading out on your hike, there is a large pavilion (big enough for 175 people!) right near the trailhead. Restrooms are available there too.

Hosting a big event? The pavilion can be rented for the day. The rental includes a volleyball court, gas grills, and more.

Along the Trail

About a mile in, the trail brings you to the side of the mountain facing Estes Park.  There are two good places to stop along the way, to take in the views and rest for a few minutes.  As you get closer to the end of the trail, there are a few more places to stop off the trail for more views and rests, if needed. 

The BEST Picnic Spot

a picnic spot near the top of Kruger Rock Trail

Our pick for a picnic spot on Kruger Rock Trail? Hold out until you reach the summit. It’s the perfect excuse to hang out and stare at those views just a little bit longer anyway.

When you get to the top of the mountain, there will be one more climb to go if you want the most spectacular views.


You may also like: Camping at Hermit’s Hollow Campground in Estes Park


What the Kids Say About Hiking Kruger Rock Trail

With so many incredible hikes near us, we won’t always get a chance to repeat a trail. Because this one is a relatively quick hike with incredible rewards, we’ve already hit this one again. 

Plus, the kids love it too:

“I liked resting on top of the rock.”

“It was kind of hard, but not really because it was short.”

“It was fun to see the Stanley [Hotel] from the mountain.”

Post-hike Recommendations

Since the Kruger Rock Trail is not a full-day hike, there will be plenty of time to head into town to explore Estes Park afterward. 

Stop at The Barrel for Mom and Dad to grab a post-hike beer, where the kids have plenty of room to play in the outdoor space. There are plenty of kid-friendly drinks to choose from.

If you want to get out of the sun, we recommend Bird & Jim, an upscale (yet kid-friendly) restaurant that offers spectacular views of Rocky Mountain sunsets.

Have you hiked Kruger Rock Trail? Share your experience with us in the comments!


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10 thoughts on “Kruger Rock Trail: A Short Hike to Amazing Views”

  1. Love this!! I wish we had had more time when we were in Estes Park last Fall. We actually were in CO just before AND after the peak of the Aspens. Argh!!!! I absolutely love that state now and hope to make it back over and over!! I love the hikes that the kids can do too and yet, they still have amazing reward in terms of views. Thanks so much for linking up with #outdooroutpost Hope we see you again soon!!

    1. The weather was so odd this past fall – we missed them too! We love living here, and we are always out finding something new. So much to explore!
      I’m so glad to find a group of people that love the outdoors as much as we do, and excited to connect with everyone!

    1. We always said we would try not to repeat any Colorado destinations since there is so much to explore here, but we keep finding ourselves back in Estes Park – it’s a good one 🙂

  2. Gorgeous shots…and what a thorough description of the trail and your experiences!!!
    We have been to Rocky Mt NP, but never on this trail ( or Hermit’s Hollow ) Sounds like everyone had a blast!!!
    Following you and sub! “Found” you at Amanda’s outdoor Outpost hop!

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