Bear Lake to Fern Lake Trailhead

MODERATE 50 reviews
#35 of 135 trails in

Bear Lake to Fern Lake Trailhead is a 16.5 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Estes Park, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until October.

DISTANCE
16.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
4015 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

birding

camping

fishing

fly fishing

hiking

snowshoeing

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

muddy

snow

no dogs

Start at Moraine Park Visitor Center or the Park & Ride shuttle bus parking area across from the Glacier Basin Campground. Ride the shuttle to Bear Lake, hike to the shuttle station nearest Fern Lake Trailhead and take the shuttle from their back to your start point. Take advantage of the free RMNP shuttle system to hike this point-to-point trail at an overall elevation loss. Hike through boulder fields and get some of the best views in the park, including Notchtop Mountain, Odessa Lake, Fern Lake, and Fern Falls.

hiking
3 days ago

From Bear the trail is rocky and inclined until about halfway to Helene then pretty much down hill and rocky from there. I hung around Helene for a while then went down and backtracked to Odessa Lake. Both so beautiful! Fern Lake too. Instead of going to the Fern Lake trailhead I went to Cub Lake then marched up the hill back to Bear. That was hard. I had never done that so I gave it a whirl...now I will be sore for a week.

camping
23 days ago

camping
25 days ago

hiking
26 days ago

A really great hike. We parked at Fern Lake Shuttle then shuttled to Bear Lake.

The trail starts up right away and is steady for about 2 miles. You hit the first snow field that covers the trail at about 2 miles. You go straight from the trail follow the dirty snow pack and find the other side about 50yds away.

You are flat to inclined for another mile or mile and half. The top is gorgeous. The Mountains and waterfalls are stunning.

The hike down is steady with one tricky snow field. I would suggest trekking poles for some comfort but I saw a few people who did not use. It's a rocky trail down past Odessa, Fern, Fern Falls and the pool. It gets flat to rolling from the pool back to the lot. I clocked 10.4 miles to the Fern Lake shuttle parking from Bear Lake. Highly recommend.

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

This is an amazing and unique hike!

We took advantage of the park's free shuttle system by parking at Bear Lake PnR, riding up to Bear Lake trailhead in the shuttle, then taking the Fern Lake trailhead shuttle back to the PnR at the end of our hike.

The first 3 miles are a steady climb to an amazing overlook of Flattop, Notchtop, Odessa Lake, etc. Be sure to scramble up the rocks just to the right of the trail here for the best view! The remaining 6 miles or so are downhill to Odessa Lake, Fern Falls, Big Thompson River, etc. Be sure to take your time and stop off at all these sites if the weather is good. They're much less crowded than other areas of the park, and offer amazing scenery.

With our little excursions and the .8 mile walk back to the shuttle, we clocked in at 9.75 miles in 4 hours 11 minutes. There's a bit of snow obscuring the trail about 2 miles in, but follow the tracks to the left and you'll eventually end up back on trail, which follows a small stream bed. There were two snowfields on inclines that some might find dicey, but we managed fine without traction or poles.

hiking
1 month ago

Incredible! Multiple types of terrain - snow, rock. Do yourself a favor and get sidetracked around the Y to lake Helene, go right due north - find the peak that overlook's joes mt. Its breathtaking.

hiking
1 month ago

Starting at Bear Lake, this hike also includes Two Rivers, Helene, Odessa, Fern, and Spruce and you'll want to include them all. There are a number of short social trails behind Lake Helene with fabulous views of the lake, Flattop Mt, Joe Mills Mt, Notchtop Mt, and Odessa Lake below. This trail has a lot of great vistas, mountain views, and also includes Fern Falls and The Pool. The hike is point to point using the park's shuttles. Note that the hike does not end at the Fern Lake TH, but at the closest shuttle stop another .8 of a mile.

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

1 month ago

Way too much snow last week... would have been great otherwise.

hiking
2 months ago

Probably a great hike when there isn't snow. I went yesterday (6/12/17) with my sister and after the incline from bear lake the entire trail is covered with snow. To make it worse there are no trail markers and it is VERY easy to get lost. Our 3 hour hike turned into a 7 hour hike after losing the trail.

hiking
2 months ago

Absolutely stunning views, one of my favorite hikes to date. Was highly recommended to me by a park ranger and it definitely didn't disappoint!

backpacking
3 months ago

hiking
6 months ago

Amazing scenery!

hiking
6 months ago

hiking
9 months ago

We started at Bear Lake but somehow decided to take the hardest trail --Flattop. That was very hard, but so beautiful. We made it about 3/4 up the top of the mountain when we started to feel dizzy and the altitude really hit us. Coming from a very flat Miami, over 10,000 ft was challenging. Coming down, although much faster, was tricky since a lot of the trail was slippery from ice and snow. It was a gorgeous day, and we started with 30+ temperatures. But we began to peel off the layers of clothing as we built up a sweat from the hike.

Had we realized this was such a difficult trail, we would probably have opted for a more moderate one. But we're glad we did this one. The views are spectacular!

hiking
10 months ago