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Fern Lake Trail is a 9 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Estes Park, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is best used from May until October.

Length 9.0 mi Elevation gain 1,453 ft Route type Out & Back

Hiking

Forest

Lake

River

Views

Waterfall

Wild flowers

Wildlife

No dogs

Description
Waypoints (3)
Contact

Reservations to enter the park will go on sale through Recreation.gov at 8 a.m. Mountain Time on Thursday, May 28. Reservations will be available to enter the park from June 4 through July 31. The next release will be on July 1, for the month of August and any remaining days that have not been booked for July. On August 1, reservations will be available for the month of September and any remaining days that have not been booked for August. On September 1, reservations will be available for the month of October and any remaining days in September that have not been booked. Permits issued using the reservation system will allow park visitors to enter the park within two-hour windows of availability between 6 a.m. through 5 p.m. This process will facilitate advance payment of entrance fees, minimize contact between park entrance station staff and visitors and limit congestion in parking lots. The permit system will apply to all areas of the park. In the initial opening phase, the park will open approximately 60 percent of the park’s maximum parking capacity or 4,800 vehicles (13,500 visitors) per day. Fern Lake Trail is a relatively uncrowded hike to a scenic mountain lake accessed from the Moraine Park area on the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park. The trail follows the Big Thompson River offering great views of Fern Falls, Notchtop Mountain and the Little Matterhorn from Fern Lake's north side. Easier to hike from Bear Lake.

Colorado Tourism Office, 1625 Broadway, Suite 1700 , Denver, CO, 80202, Phone: 800-COLORADO

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (750)
Photos (975)
Recordings (462)
Completed (1984)
David Spates
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Jul 05 2020
Hiking

Hiked to Spruce, Loomis and Fern Lakes. Awesome day

View David's Recording
Hannah Forsythe
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarThu Jul 02 2020
HikingRocky

I would say this trail was definitely worth our time. I went with my dad who had knee surgery so he took his time and made it all the way up to the Falls. I went to Fern Lake which was beautiful but I’d have to say I thought the falls are even prettier. The trail was a little rocky it was fine as long as you pay attention to your footing but if you have a bad hip or knee I would suggest maybe hiking poles or just make sure to take your time. Otherwise it was beautiful there were lots of deer and butterflies! It was pretty flat for the first 2 miles and then there was some incline after the pond. Overall it was relatively flat though just small sections of incline. Areas of sun and shade so it’s got a little bit of everything to offer. I’m also a solo hiker and this was very easy to follow absolutely no worries about getting off path. Definitely lots of people too.

Clark Cummings
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarTue Jun 30 2020
HikingRocky

From the Fern Lake trail head this is an 8 mile round trip, not 9 miles. I found the trail challenging, but am a 68 year-old male and not in the best of shape. Hiking poles were helpful on the return trip as lots of steps and some loose rock. I started the hike at 7:00 AM and saw very few people on the trail on the way up. Did encounter several hikers on the return as I got closer to the trail head.

View Clark's Recording
Taylor Spencer
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarTue Jun 30 2020
HikingBugs

Lost a Fitbit inspire somewhere in the trail today. It’s black. If anyone finds it please let me know!

Pepe Debernardi
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSun Jun 28 2020
Hiking

Una ruta muy buena donde puedes empezar, hay una cascada ala mitad del sendero.

Chad Williams
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Jun 28 2020
HikingBugsGreat!Rocky

To clarify the mileage, its an 8-mile out and back to Fern Lake from the Fern Lake parking lot. Parking at other parking areas can add mileage. This is a great intro to moderate hiking. Bugs are out, so bring bug spray. It's very rocky, but hey, its Rocky Mountain National Park. Point being, boots are recommended over shoes. But if you are young and want to go for it with sneakers...have fun. There are really three legs to this hike, Parking Lot to The Pool, The Pool to Fern Falls (very Cool by the way), and Fern Falls to Fern Lake (Very, very cool). Those are your Way Points if you are using the Alltrails Map and good turn around points if necessary. They are an easy 1.7 miles, a moderate 1.0 miles, and a little more difficult 1.3 miles respectively. Fern Lake is well worth the effort though, so go for it! Most of the elevation gain occurs from The Pool to Fern Lake. WILDLIFE: Bird Watchers will like The Pool to Fern Lake section, as it is more Alpine Forest. Expect a few Mule Deer and usual ground mammals. The Elk may have moved to higher elevations, as usual as the temps rise. We've been in Moraine Park every weekend for the past 5 weeks and they have been in the meadows each weekend until today. If you see them, please post in this trip report thread so we know they are still around. We are usually on trail at 530am. Also, please take the time to tell everyone your experience in the trip reports so we can plan our trips moving forward. Simply posting a 5-star review is not very helpful. Its RMNP, we know its a 5-star experience. We are looking for what you saw, experienced, etc on your hike. Thanks a ton, enjoy!

Becca Lee
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Jun 27 2020
HikingBugsRocky
View Becca's Recording
Kimberly Jones
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarWed Jun 24 2020
HikingRocky

Very nice trail. Rocky in places (obviously), muddy in spots from the daily afternoon into evening rain. We headed up at 8:20am, several cars already but only 4 other hikers headed up at the same time. Two sets of falls, so keep going on up. Less than a mile from the second falls is where you’ll arrive at Fern Lake. After the first falls, the trail becomes somewhat relentlessly steep. We did the incline in 1 h 50 mins, back down in 1 h 35mins, arriving at the car shortly before noon. Right now, count on weather potentially moving in by 1pm; we saw many, many people just heading up during our last mile - with an increasingly dark sky moving in. Also, despite the park’s electronic sign at the entrance stating that visitors should wear masks, the vast majority do not. The trail is not wide enough to maintain distancing. Thank you to the people who put on their masks as we encountered each other, very appreciated.

Mike Marshall
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarTue Jun 23 2020
Hiking

Starts off easy. Pretty steep toward the end. Basking in the mist of Fern Falls is wonderful.

View Mike's Recording
Rebecca Garlington
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Jun 21 2020
HikingBugs
View Rebecca's Recording
Cassie Seebart
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Jun 21 2020
Hiking

Beautiful. Bugs weren't too bad. We went up Sunday - got to the parking lot at 7 am and there were still a fair number of spots available, but I would guess that didn't last long after we headed up.

Joe Monforton
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFri Jun 19 2020
Hiking

Trail was in good shape, a few small patches of snow up by the lake but, otherwise smooth sailing.

Adam Baker
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarThu Jun 18 2020
Hiking

Great hike, beautiful lake and forest. Go early to get parking spot

Charles Kasper
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Jun 13 2020
Hiking

Great hike if you get there early. One the best lakes in the park and the falls are running fast.

View Charles 's Recording
Trent Pickett
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Jun 13 2020
Hiking

Get to the trailhead early if you want a parking spot within a mile or the trailhead. We got there at 6am and got almost front spot and left to a line of cars waiting. Trail was a extremely busy on the way down as well. Trail is perfect up to the last few hundred yards to fern lake where there is a snow field but easy to walk around.

View Trent's Recording
John Woodward
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarThu Jun 11 2020
Hiking

Advice? Start early. 6am if possible. Cool and shaded on the way up but hot and mostly sunny on the way down. Hardly anyone on the trail until I started back down from Fern Lake.

View John's Recording
Timothy Williams
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarThu Jun 11 2020
Hiking

We started at 6:30am Wednesday 6/10/20. Already six vehicles at trailhead. Very cool air no bugs trail was dry, windy at lake, gorgeous bull elk, western tanger, juncos and other birds. Not many on trail up, down...another story. First time we did this hike. Would do it again. We were really amazed at how many people were hiking throughout the park. Glad they are restricting amount of vehicles

Cal Of the Woods
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarWed Jun 10 2020
Hiking

Had a blast on Fern Lake trail today! Dry and clear right up to the lake. Well maintained. Beautiful waterfalls. Really cold at the lake, we had major winds throughout the hike. Would absolutely do it again!

Stone Conroy
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarWed Jun 10 2020
Hiking

Good trail along a river. Great waterfall near the end

Kelly Gau
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarTue Jun 09 2020
Hiking

About 2 miles in snow prevented us from finding the trail and actually making it to fern lake. We will be back though.. excellent trail and such amazing views.

Alessandra Bongiardina
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Jun 08 2020
HikingBugs

Did this trail two days ago on a Saturday morning, first parking lot already full at about 7:30. Packed by the time we got down around 12. But it was beautiful! Next to moving water for most of it, and the falls are a great stop before your last push to the top. The trail isn’t snowy at all, no need for gaiters or spikes! It lightly drizzled for most of our way up so no big problems, but the way down was a different story. Definitely bring bug spray!

Noly Wils
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Jun 07 2020
Hiking

Love this trail, it’s beautiful with the river winding along with you a good percentage of the way. Falls are spectacular. A little buggy, bring bug spray! The lake is a welcome sight after a good long gradual uphill. Perfect place to sit and have lunch bf heading back. Get there early or else you’ll be walking an extra mile for parking.

Taylor Marzolf
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSat Jun 06 2020
HikingIcyMuddyRockySnow

Fern Lake via Bear Lake TH is extremely snowy and icy. We were scaling snowy cliffs and did not have spikes or poles. Fern Lake via Bear Lake is doable, but I highly recommend gators, as we were postholing. Once we got to Fern Lake, we headed down Fern Lake Trail to the Fern Lake TH. This portion of the path is in incredible condition, and the waterfall is beautiful. No snow on this portion of the path. Fern Lake itself isn’t spectacular, but the vegetation, greenery, and wildflowers are beautiful.

Stephanie Zayatz
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Jun 06 2020
Hiking

Perfect hike. Beautiful conditions on 6/7 even in the rain. Some snow after 9500 feet right before you reach the lake, don’t miss the trail like I did. You cut to the left just before the cabin and go up and over the snow to get to the lake. Tried to continue on to Odessa but there was a significant tree fall across the trail that made it impassable. I arrived at 6:35am with a timed entry pass and was the second to last car to fill the lot. All lots behind fern lake totally full by the time I left.

View Stephanie's Recording
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