Directions: From Grand Lake, Colorado, follow Hwy 34 north and enter Rocky Mountain National Park at the Grand Lake Entrance. Once, in the park, follow Hwy 34 north for about 6 miles to the trailhead and parking area.
Coyote Valley is a truly beautiful part of Rocky Mountain National Park. The wide lush valley was carved by the Colorado River, now no more than a narrow stream, and sits at the southern tip of the Never Summer Mountain Range. The Coyote Valley Trail serves as the perfect introduction to the western side of Rocky Mountain National Park with an easy hike, great for all skill levels, and perfect for kids to get acclimated to the park.
The Coyote Valley Trail follows the Colorado River with wide open views of the valley. The trail is continuously overseen by the jagged slopes of Baker Mountain and it's neighbors Mt. Stratus and Mt. Nimbus to the north. It's hard not to get excited by these mountains.
The trail is relatively easy and for the first half, follows a wide gravel path with interpretive signs and benches scattered throughout the trail. According to most maps, there is a short loop at the end of the trail, however, this is no longer the case. The loop has been closed and is being restored to natural conditions. Instead, at the end of the gravel trail, an additional single track trail continues up through the valley.
This part of the trail is more primitive and absolutely beautiful. The trail passes through pine and conifer forest as it continues to follow the Colorado River. On this particular day a bull elk was relaxing behind some downed trees, it's hard not to relax here... If you follow the singe track for a bit less than half a mile, you'll reach the Baker-Bowen Trailhead. What used to be a short 1 mile nature trail is now a pleasant and relaxing two mile roundtrip hike through one of the park's most beautiful valleys.
I can't say enough about the western side of Rocky Mountain National Park. This part of the park sees far less visitation then the often crowded east side. The trails are generally longer and getting to the high alpine lakes, passes, and peaks takes a bit more effort, but Coyote Valley is quiet and relaxing and absolutely wonderful...even during Labor Day Weekend...