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Fern Lake Trail

MODERATE 617 reviews
#14 of 209 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

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.

snowshoeing
snow
5 days 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
18 days ago

hiking
1 month 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
1 month ago

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

hiking
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month 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
2 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
2 months ago

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

hiking
2 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
2 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
2 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
2 months ago

Nice trail. Odessa lake is awesome!

hiking
2 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
2 months ago

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

hiking
rocky
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

Beautiful trail...much of it is in the trees with glimpses of mountains. Spectacular waterfalls, babbling creek sounds the entire way, and then the lakes! I continued to Odessa after Fern and the trail was beautiful...as you approach Odessa the stream and views are gorgeous! It’s windy, but so beautiful! 10 mi round trip with both lakes. Btw on the way to trailhead you pass an area where elk congregate. Parking fills up fast.

hiking
2 months ago

The lake at the end was a truly rewarding experience. Lots of trout swimming where you can see them. From bridge by Pool on up is pretty steady incline. No services, so if you want to go light on water, bring a filter for the rivers or lake. Much of trail is walking on rock tops. Good hiking boots will help your feet. Many had tennis shoes, but I felt the rocks through my boots. I also thought my trekking poles were worth their weight in gold. Anyone over 50 will really appreciate the poles. Junction at bridge is not real clear so take hard right and look for rock stair case. If you don’t take hard right you will end up at Cub Lake. Had moose hanging out at cub lake and had bear cross Fern Lake Trail in front of me. The hike is not a walk in the park, but very doable for most. Again, don’t skimp on water! It was in 70s on my day in Sept and I went through a 2.5 L bladder in my pack. Would of used much more if it was hot. I also added 2 miles to the trip by going up to Cub Lake and back.

hiking
2 months ago

As always, to the Pool, nice easy walk. Had heard we missed a bear by five minutes. Around 9am, Sunday 9/8/19 close to the Pool. Pool to waterfall preps you a little for the stretch to Fern Lake. Not for the weak. Trail very rocky, make sure you have adequate shoes. Pretty steady incline but as you finally reach the lake you forget how tired the trail made you. Trail mostly shaded which helps.

hiking
2 months ago

Beautiful hike up to fern and Odessa lake!! Bluebird sky and lakes were awesome!!

hiking
2 months ago

I started at Bear Lake and finished at the Fern Lake Trailhead. The first 2 miles are uphill from Bear Lake and then it's all downhill. Total mileage was 9.54 and that included side trips to Lake Helene and Odessa Lake. There are no trail signs pointing you to those lakes, so check detailed trail reports and/or maps so you know where the turn-offs are and don't miss them. Trail was well maintained, easy to find, no difficult stream crossings or boulders to scramble, no snow on the trail. I started at 7:08am and finished at 11:22am, and took 156 photos. I took the shuttle buses from Fern Lake to Bear lake where my car was parked. Great views, beautiful lakes, not many people until I got to Fern Lake.

hiking
2 months ago

Fanstastic hike. Started at bear lake and ended at fern lake trailhead and take the shuttle back for a point to point hike

hiking
3 months ago

lovely weather, lightly trafficked. all in all, a great hike today.

good hike start at bear lake. incline for 2 miles then all down hill. see Helena lake and a few other mountain views up close.

hiking
bugs
rocky
3 months ago

Very good trail. Little crowded so parking could be a issue. Reach there early if you want to get in at the nearest lot. There are few other lots @ walking distance. First mile and half is pretty flat and steady gradual uphill thereafter. Lake is amazing and peaceful.

hiking
3 months ago

Really a nice hike, the trail is in good shape, and it wasn’t super crowded (yet). The section to the lake after the waterfall has some elevation to be gained, and was probably the hardest portion of the hike, just stay at a decent pace and it shouldn’t be a problem. The lake was beautiful this morning, and the temps were equally great. On a side note, if you’re hiking to Fern, stay on the correct trail, you’ll see my recording has an additional tail...that wasn’t the right trail to follow.

hiking
3 months ago

Took the trail to Fern Falls with our 2 boys (5 &7 years old). The 5 year old needed a piggyback for the final 0.25 mile to Fern Falls, and a few carries towards the end. The 7 year old made it the entire way out/back to Fern Falls with only minimal complaints. Not sure the kids would have made it the final mile to Fern Lake. The hike was spectacular was amazing views. I would have preferred to not have shared the trail with the horses, but we only encountered one group of horses so it wasn't too bad. The parking lot was less than 1/2 full when we arrived at 745 AM on a Thursday. Only a few other hikers on our way out, we encountered more on our way back in. It was nice to start early since I suspect the trail would have been quite hot and sunny later, though we were very comfortable in the morning.

hiking
bugs
muddy
3 months ago

One of my favorite lakes to fly fish for rare native greenback cutthroat trout! The trail is ALWAYS busy but less of a S show than dream lake can be, still advised to get there early. The hike itself averages out for me to be 9 miles but that’s probably counting all the fishing at the lake, 4.8 hours of “movement time” but it’s an all day thing for me most days. Always love RMNP

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