Paradise Park is a valley in southern Rocky Mountain National Park, west of the Continental Divide. It is a Research Natural Area with no trails and no camping allowed. The valley is difficult to access but is one of the most beautiful places in RMNP. The valley consists of meadows with small unnamed lakes and clear, meandering creeks, and stands of trees. Wildlife includes elk and bald eagles. The surrounding mountains are, to the north, Mount Craig (12,007 feet; 3860 meters) and Isolation Peak (13,318 feet; 3998 meters); to the east, Ouzel Peak (12,716 feet; 3876 meters) and Ogallla Peak (13,138; 4004 meters); and to the south, Mount Adams (12,121 feet; 3694 meters), Watanga Mountain (12,375 feet; 3773 meters), and Hiamovi Mountain (12,395 feet).
The easiest access to Paradise Park is from the west side, through the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area. The road ends at Arapahoe Bay on Lake Grandby. A trail then follows the Roaring Fork creek 5.5 miles to Stone Lake and Upper Lake, between Hiamovo Mountain and Cooper Peak. From Upper Lake the pass north into Paradise Park is easy and safe.
From Grand Lake, maybe you could hike three miles up the East Inlet Trail, then follow Paradise Creek for three or four miles. The map doesn't indicate a trail along Paradise Creek so this might be a difficult bushwhack.
From the east side, two passes enable access into Paradise Park. These are how I go so I'll relate these routes in detail.
The easier pass is south of Isolation Peak (13,318 feet) and north of Ouzel Peak (12,716 feet). The pass is at 12,400 feet. From the Wild Basin Ranger Station trailhead (6 miles) or from the Allenspark trailhead (7 miles), hike to Bluebird Lake, where the trail ends, at timberline. Continue along the north side of Bluebird Lake. About halfway around the lake look for a cairn at the base of a talus slope. Follow cairns up the talus slope then west onto grassy ledge between cliffs and krummholtz.
Next you have a flat meadow with a few house-size boulders, north of Lark Pond. Continue north of Pipit Lake. From here you could continue north to Isolation Lake and Isolation Peak. But to go to Paradise Park continue west of Pipit Lake up to the pass. The pass, on the east side, is mostly a boulderfield with small cliff bands. The best approach to the pass is on a grassy ledge above a cliff band, approaching from the north side but going about a hundred feet south of the pass, and then scrambling back north up the last section. To descend this pass to the east, stay right (south) for a hundred feet until you're on the grassy ledge, then head north above the cliff. From the pass, descending the pass west into Paradise Park is safe and straightforward, to the group of ponds below.
The more difficult pass from the east is near Coney Pass. From the Wild Basin trailhead (7 miles) or the Allenspark trailhead (6 miles), hike to Pear Reservoir. Look for a small trail (not on the map) heading south from the outlet of Pear Reservoir. The trail starts beyond a sign with fishing regulations. This trail takes you to the first of the three Hutcheson Lakes. The trail ends at Timberline. Follow the creek up the valley, or go high on the north side of the valley above the krummholtz. Head north from Coney Lake to Coney Pass. This is steep, loose talus, without cliff bands or exposure. Annoying to climb but safe. Stay close to the base of the cliffs.
From Coney Pass (12,400 feet) you could continue north to Junco Lake. Junco Lake is probably the least scenic lake in RMNP, just a desolate valley, surrounding by steep, loose talus and cliffs. If the weather is bad you may have to descend to Junco Lake. From Junco Lake to Bluebird Lake I downclimbed a series of cliffs, nothing dangerous, but an easier route might be to follow Ouzel Creek until you're a little east of Bluebird Lake and then descend.
To get to Paradise Park from Coney Pass, traverse the loose, steep talus slope west to the Divide. Don't try to climb the cliffs above Coney Pass, the rock is rotten and will fall onto you if you pull on it. Traverse the base of the cliffs to avoid the worst scree, and be careful of your handholds on the cliffs. Avoid the steep snowfields. This section is less than a quarter-mile but it can be scary and should only be attempted by experienced hikers. Scramble up onto the Divide at 12,500 feet.
The Divide is wide, flat tundra here. You could head north along the Divide to bag Ouzel Peak (12,716 feet) and then scramble down a boulderfield to the pass above Pipit Lake, and then east to Bluebird Lake. Don't attempt this if there's lightning danger,
Head either due west and down the ridge line, or southwest down a steep, grassy slope. The latter is better because it puts you at the head of Paradise Park. Now you explore Paradise Park.
A roundtrip from Allenspark trailhead up over Coney Pass and back across the pass to Pipit Lake is 22-25 miles and 10-13 hours, depending on how much exploring you do in Paradise Park, and whether you run or hike the trail sections.
No camping is allowed in Paradise Park. The closest camping is in the Indian Peaks, near Stone Lake.
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