If you like meadows, then don’t miss Big Meadows on Rocky Mountain National Park’s west side, near Grand Lake. Big Meadows is just what you’d expect from its name – two big meadows with a bonus historic cabin, mountain scenery and the chance for a moose sighting.
Most visitors hike to Big Meadows from the Green Mountain Trailhead (directions below). Be aware, the trailhead parking lot has a reputation for having a lot of mosquitoes. While there weren’t mosquitoes in the parking lot the day we hiked, we did find them right away on the trail.
Now, let’s talk about the trail. Just steps from the parking lot, you’re immediately in the forest and you’re immediately climbing. Even seasoned hikers have mentioned that the trail is steep in the beginning. According to my GPS, we gained 300 feet in the first 0.3 mile on this trail.
The trail does mellow out at times and climb again at times. When you need a break, stop and take a photo of the forest, the wildflowers and your companions.
After about 1.8 miles, you’ll come to a clearing of sorts with lots of signs. Just keep heading straight, then take the turnoff that says “hitchrack.” From the hitchrack, you’ll have a great view of Big Meadows. And yes, it’s a big meadow. The meadow is nearly a half mile long and there’s a second big meadow next it.
At Big Meadows, enjoy the meadow, the flowers and the mountain peaks in the distance. Look on the edges of the forest for moose, deer and elk.
This is a great place to sit and enjoy lunch. If you can handle a little more exploring, take the main trail a little further to two cabins. The first cabin is on the left side of the trail. The second cabin is on the right side of the trail, on the meadow.
The cabins are less than a quarter mile from the hitchrack. When you’re done exploring, you can hike another 3 miles to Granite Falls or head back the way you came.
Details: The hike to Big Meadows from the Green Mountain trailhead is about 3.6 miles with 535 feet of elevation gain. The hike to Big Meadows and the nearby cabins is about 4 miles roundtrip with 550 feet of elevation gain.
Find more hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park and more hikes in this list of 400+ Colorado hiking trails. Don’t miss any of my trip reports, sign up for an email alert by clicking on subscribe at the bottom of this article and follow me on Facebook.
Directions: From Winter Park, take U.S 40 to Granby. Just past town, turn right on U.S. 34 towards Grand Lake. At Grand Lake, turn right to go into town or left to go towards the park. At 2.6 miles past the park entrance station, you’ll see the Green Mountain trailhead on your right.