Fern Lake Trail

MODERATE 639 reviews
#14 of 212 trails in

Fern Lake Trail is a 7.1 mile heavily 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

walking

bird watching

running

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
snow
2 days ago

Hiked 8.4 miles RT from winter trailhead to Fern Lake. Microspikes were adequate for the entire route until we were within 100 yards or so of Fern Lake. At that point, we postholed over to the Patrol Cabin but really weren't able to make it any further. Due to heavy tree cover, we didn't get a particularly good view of Fern Lake either. There was no evidence that the trail had been broken beyond this point. Continuing further up to Odessa Lake would require (1) snowshoes, (2) a willingness to break trail, and (3) excellent winter navigation skills.

hiking
snow
4 days ago

Hiked 1/19, parked in lot after bus stop. Road is closed and a mix of packed snow and some ice from restroom to trailhead. Mostly packed snow with a few icy spots and some plain dry dirt. I wore micro spikes with hiking boots and my cousin had plain, good tread hiking boots on. Both options worked well. We hiked to The Pool and back to parking. Trip was just under three hours, we think five and half miles, with a brief stop for packed lunch and lots of pictures on the way in. Trail was gorgeous with easy incline in certain parts. Lots of flat space as well. Not difficult for this midwestern girl not used to high altitudes.

hiking
4 days ago

Had to walk .7 miles to trail head as road was closed. Icy in some areas at the trail start then turns to packed snow the majority of way. Gorgeous hike on a beautiful January day. Even saw a handful of elk when leaving.

hiking
icy
snow
5 days ago

hiking
icy
snow
5 days ago

Brought snowshoes but didn't need them, spikes worked fine. Trail was packed all the way up to Fern Lake. Road is closed at the Fern Lake trailhead, had to park in the Fern Lake bus drop-off. Lots of shade, very windy at the lake, beautiful hike!

hiking
8 days ago

Attempted on 1/16, hoping to make it to Fern and on to Odessa. A mile or so after the Flat Top split, snow shoes were necessary. There was some sinking, even with them. 1/2 mile after that, the tracks we were following turned around, and all signs of a trail disappeared into untouched snow. We had trouble finding it even with the AllTrails map and GPS, but had lots of fun trying. There was some sinking above our knees occasionally, even with snowshoes, when we got off-trail. We eventually came out on a fantastic rock outcrop that awarded panoramic views of all the peaks/glaciers, as well as Fern and Odessa far below us. One of the best views I've seen in my life, and we hike around the world. We decided that this view just might be better than going to down to Fern/Odessa, and were already feeling tired from all the trail-breaking, so we turned around there. On the return, we saw ski tracks heading down to Fern, and our tracks were nearly covered by blowing snow. Be prepared for a navigational adventure if you attempt this any time soon!

hiking
11 days ago

Hiked on 1/12. Great hike! Micro spikes up to fern. After that you will need snowshoes.

hiking
icy
snow
12 days ago

Hike on 1/12 and you will need spikes. No need for snow shoes as they have not received enough snow in the mountains to blanket the area. Route is very nice and well marked with the last 3 miles being the highest elevation gain. Cool cabin on top of the trail to eat.

hiking
snow
14 days ago

hiked on 1/9. very good trail conditions, tamped snow and minimal amounts of icy spots.

hiking
23 days ago

Hiked on 12/30/19. Beautiful hike, especially for the views at the end. Very doable for most skill levels. Was able to wear microspikes all the way to Fern Lake, probably didn’t even need those but it would have been slick. Fern is frozen solid and doesn’t look like there are any tracks heading up to Odessa yet. Someone had broken trail all the way to Spruce lake, though, which was awesome. We did have to wear snowshoes though just to make sure we didn’t sink down too deep. Views from Spruce lake were beautiful and it’s even better taking them in from the middle of the frozen lake!

snowshoeing
snow
1 month ago

I hiked this trail on 11/27, the morning after the blizzard. Due to the deep snowpack, snowshoes were necessary even at the very beginning. The road to the trailhead is closed which adds an extra 2 miles to the total round trip length. I only made it to the first falls because the snow was too deep to continue. Yet the path is wide enough that it’s still easy to follow. As of 11/27 the parking lots had not been plowed leaving city cars stranded because snow covered all the available spots. Overall I recommend this hike for a pleasant winter outing.

hiking
snow
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

Hiked this trail Friday 10/25/19. We started at 10:45 AM and we're able to park at Fern Lake TH but we're lucky because the weather was in the upper 50's. When we returned, it was full. The park had a lot of snow this week so crampons were a necessity especially past the Falls. The trail was snow and ice packed past the pool all the way to Fern Lake. The trail was packed down and easy to follow but anything past Fern Lake (going up to Odessa, Helene, Bear) was not evident. It was all fresh snow so you will need to know the trail and your way. This trail is considered moderate but I would say moderate/hard past the Pool with all the snow and ice. Plus you climb roughly 1,050 ft from Fern Falls to Fern Lake in just 2.1 miles

hiking
3 months ago

Loved this trail. Tons to see, waterfall is spectacular! Get there early, park traffic is thick even at the end of October.

hiking
3 months ago

Great trail that offers multiple levels of challenge. It is a fairly easy walk to the pool and then it starts going uphill and is fairly challenging. The falls and the lake are worth the effort. Like others have said, starting early is the way to go if you want to park at the trailhead. We arrived around 7:45am with no problem. By the time we left around noon it was impossible to park.

hiking
3 months ago

Beautiful trail with low foot traffic. Once you passed the pool, get ready for the real hike!! Last 1.8 miles is all uphill and not for the beginner. Once you reach the lake, all of the pain is forgotten!

hiking
3 months ago

According to the park signs and my GPS it is 3.8 miles from the TH to the lake. So its 7.6 miles r/t. Nice Waterfalls and pretty lake. Most of the trail is covered by a tree canopy or bordered by trees.

hiking
3 months ago

We ended up only going to fern falls instead of all the way to the lake. It was really great, all the fall colors were out! Got to the trailhead a little after 7 with plenty of parking. By the time we left around 10 all the parking (and overflow) was full. On the way up we had the trail to ourselves, but by the way back we ran into way more people after passing the Pool. Can’t wait to come back and make it all the way to the lake.

hiking
blowdown
3 months ago

Absolutely beautiful! We used all our layers Clothing wise! Couple of trees blew down on our way down across the trail!

hiking
3 months ago

This was a great hike. We went to the falls and back. I’d recommend this hike to beginners like us. It was a push but an enjoyable hike non the less.

hiking
3 months ago

Great hike! Just hard enough and not busy, but parking is sparse! Lots of river and falls. Would definitely do again! Trail itself was better than lake at the end.

hiking
3 months ago

A great trail to fall colors that begins with a gentle ramble along the Thompson. Do not be deceived by the first mile and three-quarters, once you reach the Pool and the area around the former Old Forest Inn (now a backcountry campsite), you will begin to climb upwards far above and away from the river on your right and the creek on your left. Fern Falls is still roaring and the fall color in the burn scar is fantastic at sunrise or sunset. Fern Lake itself is a pretty typical Rocky Mountain NP subalpine lake, but the surrounding peaks make for an impressive backdrop.

Beautiful hike! We started at Glacier Gorge (that’s where we parked), headed to Bear Lake, and continued on to the Fern Lake trailhead. It passes many lakes, gorgeous mountain views, a waterfall, and goes along a stream near the end. There is some slight incline until you hit Two Rivers/Lake Helene and then it’s mostly downhill or flat from there. Including the 0.8 mile walk along the dirt rode to the bus stop at the end, it was just under 11 miles. Took us about 4 hours (but we’ve been hiking every day for the past two weeks). Take the time to walk down to Lake Helene and Odessa Lake - they’re beautiful! We then took the Moraine Park Route bus to the park & ride and then took the Bear Lake Route back to Glacier Gorge.

hiking
4 months ago

Nice trail. Odessa lake is awesome!

hiking
4 months ago

awesome hike with amazing veiws. the falls are gourgous and the lake is so clear and memorizing. would RECOMMEND to anyone.

hiking
rocky
4 months ago

Beautiful hike, the trail follows plenty of water on the way up.

hiking
rocky
4 months ago

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