The Royal Elk hiking trail is one of the most beautiful footpaths at Beaver Creek resort in Colorado. The trail takes you through aspen and spruce forests with many wildflowers, mushrooms and berries. The Royal Elk trail at some point merges with the Beaver Lake trail and leads to Beaver Lake, a picturesque alpine lake.
How to Get to the Royal Elk Hiking Trail, Colorado
Trail Length: 5 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,062 feet
The length of the trail out and back is 5 miles with an elevation gain of 1,062 feet. It is moderately challenging with the last half of a mile being a steep uphill ascend. If you are in good shape, it should not be difficult at all.
Parking at Beaver Creek Resort, Colorado
First, arrive to the town of Beaver Creek, Colorado. Parking in Beaver Creek during the summer season is free at the Ford Hall garage. Then, take the Centennial Express lift. You may need to buy a ski lift pass. The ski lift pass cost changes each year. In 2023, the online day pass costs $53 per adult. There are discounts for seniors, military and children.
Centennial Express Lift to Royal Elk
If you have an Epic pass for the upcoming winter season, ski lifts rides in summer are included too. The link to where you can purchase tickets is in the description.
Be aware, that in 2023 the hours and dates of operation for Centennial Express lift are from June 17 to September 4 daily between 9:30am and 4:30pm. After that, it is open on weekends only from September 9 to September 24.
The views from the Centennial Express lift are breathtaking. If you look closely, you may spot a fox, marmot and other wild animals on the ground.
Hiking Royal Elk to Beaver Lake, Colorado
Once you reach the top of the Beaver Creek mountain, turn right. The Royal Elk hiking trail will start a short walk downhill. First, you will traverse beautiful open meadows before entering the aspen forest. Early morning is the best time to hike the Royal Elk trail as you will have the footpath all to yourself. There may be some people closer to the afternoon.
Along the way, you may spot fireweed, arnica flowers and other forest wildflowers. We also picked wild blueberries, which were delicious. Other edible berries we saw here were wild rosehips, raspberries and thimbleberries. We also saw tons of wild mushrooms. But, because we are not fungi experts, we only marveled at them and took photos.
After a short steep climb at the end, you will reach Beaver Lake. Beaver Lake is an alpine lake with Beaver creek flowing through it.
Helicopters stock the lake with trout. If you have a Colorado fishing license, you can fish here. It is best to get here early though, as the fish will not bite later in the morning.
There is the option to hike further from Beaver Lake to lower and upper Turquoise lakes. But this will add another 10 miles to your adventure. Hiking to the Turquoise lakes is probably best suited for backpacking.
Returning to Beaver Creek Resort
To return from Beaver Lake to the Beaver Creek resort, you have two options. The first option is to take the Royal Elk trail again.
The other option is to take the Beaver Lake trail, which will add 0.6 miles. The Beaver Lake trail will not involve riding ski lifts though. We would say that the Beaver Lake trail is less fun, because its last part goes along a wide dirt road and then a paved road. But, the Beaver Lake trail is mostly downhill on the way back to the village.
Returning on Royal Elk will involve some elevation gain here and there. But, be aware that the Centennial Express lift may be closed when you get there. You will have to traverse various ski routes from the top of Beaver Creek mountain to the village. It will take significantly longer compared to hiking the Beaver Lake trail on the way back. But it is less steep and will not strain your legs compared to the downhill descend on the Beaver Lake trail.