Fern Lake Trail

MODERATE 404 reviews
#15 of 199 trails in

Fern Lake Trail is a 7.1 mile moderately 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 May until October. Horses are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 7.1 miles Elevation Gain: 1,453 feet Route Type: Out & Back

fishing

hiking

horseback riding

nature trips

trail running

walking

bird watching

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

snow

no dogs

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.

hiking
5 days ago

Gorgeous. Crowded for a Wednesday. Not too difficult but long and most of the elevation gain is in the last two miles to Fern Lake.

hiking
7 days ago

This is definitely a favorite of mine. The hike stresses the lungs at times but is not difficult from a technical standpoint. The trail itself is well maintained and marked. We started out at 9 and did wind up crossing some other hikers but for the most part we were alone. Everyone is so friendly anyway. The entire hike is filled with beauty everywhere you turn. I highly recommend going on to Odessa Lake after you reach Fern. It is worth it.

hiking
rocky
8 days ago

This was a beautiful scenic hike. The beginning mile is pretty flat up until the pool, then the unrelenting uphills begin until the lake. It wasn’t too crowded for a Sunday in July which was great! Get there early to beat the afternoon rain and the larger crowds.

hiking
8 days ago

I lost a black and white patterned Chaco sandal on this trail on 7/14, near the Fern Falls switchback! If you come upon it, please return it to any visitor’s center within the park!

hiking
13 days ago

Loved the hike. Many interesting sights on the trip to Fern Lake. Got to trailhead around 8:45. Parking still available. Trail to the Pool (~1.7 mi) was mostly flatter and we were able to move faster. Trail to Fern Lake after the Pool was a little hard to understand/find. (Take the stairs on the right) Trail from Pool to Fern Lake was much more uphill and we hiked slower. Saw a deer crisscross the trail in front of us. The views of Fern Lake where well worth the effort!

loved the adventure. saw streams, falls, snow, the lake. rewarding day.

hiking
bugs
rocky
15 days ago

hiking
rocky
17 days ago

Great trail. Even for the 4th of July weekend was not overly crowded. Definitely gets steeper past the pool, and even more so past the falls, but the falls and the lake at the top make it all worth while! The river runs next to a good portion of the trail to provide nice accustics and. There are a lot of scenic views on the way. I would recommend starting earlier in the day for the fewest people on the trail as some parts are narrow and hard to pass side by side

hiking
17 days ago

Great trail. Got there at 6:15 AM on 7/4 and found only 3 cars parked in the trailhead. No available spots when we left at around 11:30AM. No people or snow up to fern lake, and a very small amount on the way to Odessa lake, which in my opinion is what you should aim to get to on this trail. Fern lake is nice, but an extra mile or so to Odessa lake is what makes this trail wonderful. Somehow the trail nymphs must have been gracing me with good fortune and I had Odessa lake to myself. Expect a 4 star trail to fern lake and a 5 star experience if you make it to Odessa. It is hot starting at 9 AM so do yourself a favor and get there earlier so you aren’t as miserable as the out of towners hiking up in their jeans and sweat stains and audible sounds of chafing.

hiking
17 days ago

Incredibly beautiful hike. While it’s a moderate trail, it’s not one for beginners. The combination of the vertical climb from the trailhead to fern lake, plus the steepness and rockiness on a large portion of the trail, make it challenging. Plan on a total of 5 hours (3 hours to fern lake, and 2 hours back down). The juice is worth the squeeze though! Waterfalls, the Thomas River, and beautiful Fern Lake—memories for a lifetime. Bring lots of water, some energy bars and walking poles for the best experience.

hiking
snow
18 days ago

great hike. the extra mile to Odessa lake was well worth it. wear boots as the trail is rocky and steep. also some streams to cross and lots of snow on the way to Odessa...fun!

hiking
rocky
18 days ago

Finished today - 7/4. A fun experience but note that the hike can be a little punishing both ways. I would describe this trail as strenuous, as the path is comprised of rocks of all sizes and both loose and firmly in place. This trail beat the hell out of my feet and ankles. The incline past The Pool is not too steep but ever-present plus rocky. Be cautious about your steps because this trail can easily twist or sprain an ankle. There are portions of the trail where loose rocks creates a pretty slippery path. Not a huge problem on the way up, but going down, they can get you sliding. You can milestone this hike via several different points: The burned forest The Pond Fern Falls Enjoy the wonderful views at several points of the trail. Leave early to hike it in wonderful lighting and to beat the crowds If you do plan to hike this trail, please pack at least 2 liters of water and wear proper hiking attire. We saw too many people carry nothing but a water bottle and hiking in running shoes and jeans. It was in the 50s this morning and in the mid/high 70s on the way down. Bug spray! Remember to bring it. You’ll need it. Left at 7 AM and arrived around 9:15. Went through about 2.5 liters of water. Oh, and if you do make it to Fern Lake, push the additional .7 miles to Odessa. It’s gorgeous — another level or two above Fern.

hiking
20 days ago

Great trail! one of the best hikes I've ever been on :) We parked at the farthest lot, but realized as we were walking in that there was more spots that were closer! The snow is almost all melted. Went early enough that there were not too many other people there! definitely worth it to go to Odessa lake, even though it's a steep hike to get there. Go early in the morning because it's cooler too!

hiking
22 days ago

Get there early. Parking sucks. There is parking past the base lot with the restrooms, which we didn’t realize. It will save you .7 miles one way parking all the way at the trailhead. Definitely go to Odessa Lake. Fern Lake was pretty, but Odessa was worth the trip. Really gorgeous! There is some snow on the way to Odessa, but it was definitely manageable. Be careful though because you walk over a stream on the snow pack and the snow is melting quickly now.

hiking
24 days ago

An easy-to-access trailhead out of Moraine Park, Fern Lake is a great day hike. Book it through the relatively flat 1.7 miles to the pool because all of your elevation gain is in the last 2.1 miles. It can also get pretty toasty on the east-facing parts of the trail so go early in the morning! We were the first car in the lot at 6a today and when we left at 9:30a, all lots were full (with people parking illegally -- please, please don't do that, just go back and take the shuttle). Nearly completely dry trail with a few patches of snow just below the lake -- there's a path through the snow to the left or you can skirt it to the right by the ranger cabin. If you need a privy, there's one across the inlet bridge to the left but don't forget to pack out any TP! Beautiful, calm, lovely morning with killer views of Knobtop and Little Matterhorn.

hiking
24 days ago

First half flat, second half progressive incline. Awesome waterfall and alpine lake

hiking
24 days ago

Hiked this Weds 6/26 from Fern Lake TH. Arrived at 6:30am to plenty of parking at TH and along road. Not too many hikers out this early. Fern Falls was rushing. Group of youth campers hanging out at Fern Lake. Explored along the shore to find a quiet lunch spot. Also hiked to Odessa Lake and Spruce Lake in same day. Odessa was prettiest but used micro spikes last .2 mile to reach it. Total for all 3 and my side explorations was a little over 11 miles and I think about 2300' elevation gain.

hiking
26 days ago

Hiked up earlier this morning from the Fern Lake Trailhead. Absolutely beautiful! We arrived around 7:30 AM and the parking lot had one spot left. There are a few pull-offs along the road to the trailhead if the lot is full but if you don't want to walk any extra distance be sure to get there early!

hiking
1 month ago

I hiked up to the lake yesterday, camped at one of the individual sites, and headed back down this morning. It’s chilly at the lake so be prepared even if you’re sweating at the start! Once you pass The Pool, it’s nearly a straight climb all the way to the lake. The trail isn’t too difficult but be sure to bring extra water and thin layers. Trekking poles are definitely useful on this trail. Tiny bit of snow right around the lake. Still hard to access Odessa Lake. Great fishing spot but make sure to have your permit! The park rangers stayed at the cabin last night and checked permits. The lake is definitely worth the climb and the hike back is super easy! Take your time, rest and have a snack, read a book, or fish at the lake, and enjoy!

hiking
1 month ago

This trail is well maintained and passes some great waterfalls. We hiked it at 6:30am and had no issues with parking. When we came out the cars were thick.

hiking
1 month ago

This was a great hike with lots to see! The river was full and rushing so the pool and falls were impressive. There was a bit of snow right before reaching the lake which was slippery but once you got to the lake it was pretty clear !

1 month ago

The first section to The Pool is through a mix of deciduous trees and underbrush. After The Pool,the trail increases in elevation rapidly and becomes rocky. The Falls are a great rest stop and most coming of the falls is cool. The rest of the hike is about the same rate of elevation increase. As of 6/13, there is still snowpack the last about 150 to 200 feet. It is easily traversed in boots or shoes. There is a privy off to the East side of the lake. It is just a primative outdoor toilet, but better than the alternative. I came down back past Cub Lake. That area was burned recently and is very open and is not nearly as impressive as Fern Lake. Overall I hiked 10.96 miles in 5 hours and 20 minutes.

hiking
muddy
snow
1 month ago

A few patches of snow (mid June), but able to traverse without poles & spikes. Beautiful hike!

hiking
1 month ago

Loved every minute of this hike.

hiking
1 month ago

Great trail and wonderful view at the lake. Would highly recommend! I started at Cub Lake trailhead, the last mile up to get to the lake was a killer for me. Get there early!

hiking
1 month ago

Great trail! As of 6/8, there was deep snow for the last 1/4 mile; however, it was relatively easy to traverse in sneakers. In my opinion the snow made the hike more interesting and fun! Beautiful view of a high elevation lake circled by trees. I do not recommend tacking cub lake onto the end as you will be underwhelmed.

hiking
1 month ago

LOVED this hike. We hiked fern lake to Odessa & it was beautiful. So worth it. Saw 3 moose together which was wild & it definitely pushes you. I wouldn’t recommend for a beginner hike, but great to do in the fall weather wise. It took us about 6.5 hours to hike & I was exhausted during the last mile to our car - absolutely would do it again.

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike! Did this with my 5 & 7 year olds (experiences hikers). Trail is easy to The Pool, then is a steady uphill from there to the falls and lake. Had to walk over a large patch of snow to get to the lake, but it was very doable without poles or spikes. I heard from other hikers that there was quite a bit more snow both on the way to Odessa Lake and Spruce Lake.

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