There are several good reasons for this hike. One, it only takes 1 hour to drive to it. Two, it is snow free early in the hiking season. And three, although it is in RMNP, it does not require you to purchase an entry ticket into the park. Good stuff : )
So, we left Fort Collins around 6:30 am, got up to "The Egg and I" in Estes Park around 7:30 am, had a rather great breakfast (combination of excellent service, excellent food, and very reasonable prices), and were on the trail no later than 9 am. I did discover that they have constructed a brand new trail head and parking lot (pretty decent in size), but it WILL fill up. When we got there at 8:30+am there were only a couple of dozen cars. When got back the parking lot was full (there is an additional row of parking that can't be seen in this photo).