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Flat Top Mountain and Fern Lake Trail is a 10.4 mile lightly trafficked point-to-point 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.

Length 10.4 mi Elevation gain 1,368 ft Route type Point to Point

Camping

Fishing

Hiking

Nature trips

Snowshoeing

Bird watching

Forest

Lake

River

Views

Waterfall

Wild flowers

Wildlife

Muddy

Snow

No dogs

Description
Waypoints (0)
Facilities

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. 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.

Park at Moraine Park Visitor Center or the Park & Ride shuttle bus parking area across from the Glacier Basin Campground. Alternatively, take the Estes Park hiker shuttle to the Park & Ride shuttle location. More shuttle information is here: http://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/upload/Summer-2013-Shuttle-Map-2.pdf

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (86)
Photos (1777)
Recordings (44)
Completed (420)
Julie Marshall
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 12, 2020
Backpacking

Bear Lake Trailhead > Sourdough Campsite > Odessa Lake, Fern Lake > Spruce Lake Campsite > Fern Lake Trailhead. 2 night backing trip. ~14 miles

Michael McGrath
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMay 24, 2020
Hiking

started out at bear lake. did this early spring and was still a lot of snow. post holed a lot but the view at the top is amazing. go early and take it further to Hallett.

Courtney Shaw
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 24, 2019
Hiking

We did this today and it was incredible. We parked at the party and ride and took the first bus to Bear Lake. Go early. Watching the sun rise in the valley was worth it. We knew we picked a good one because the shuttle driver was surprised we were doing the hike and said it was one of his favorites. He also recommended the turning off to do Cub lake. we took that advice and didn't regret it. The hike didn't feel as long as the mileage. There is so much to see and the scenery changed often. You almost feel like you're cheating because it's mostly downhill after a fairly reasonable first 2.5 miles uphill. We ended up adding one last lake to the mix, Cub Lake. You can turn off The Fern lake trail and see Cub lake at the end. It adds maybe one more mile at most and was totally worth it. Cub lake of beautiful and different than everything else we had seen. You can decide as you go. the turn off is pretty late. Don't skip on the side trips. We turned off at Lake Helene and Lake Odessa and we weren't disappointed. Both were peaceful and gorgeous. Odessa in particular offered some incredible picture opportunities. We saw a ton of wildlife, including a large buck moose courting a special lady friend. The crowds weren't bad. Long story short, you won't be disappointed with this one and Cub lake is also worth seeing. See the Bear Fern Cub Lake Trail in Alltrails.

Pamela Less
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 15, 2019
Hiking

Great hike! Reminded me of canyon hikes I’ve done as the hike back from the lake was most of the work. Stunning views is an understatement.

Kevin Steele
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 18, 2019
HikingRocky
C A.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 11, 2019
HikingMuddyOff trailRockySnow

Hiked 7-11-19. Large deep snowfield about 1.5 miles from bear lake trailhead. Everyone seemed to be taking a different path around it. We went to the right and hugged the edge until it met back up with the trail. I probably would have turned around at that point if not for having a gps since we are not familiar with the trail. Ran into a steep sided snowfield before lake helene. Took our time and it wasn't too bad to cross with poles. Crossed a few more small flat snowfields and made it to Lake Helene. We turned around at Helene due to some more steep sided snow on a pretty good ledge at the start of the descent to Odessa. Still great views from the overlook!

Tom Doulong and Amy Hartstern
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 8, 2019
Hiking

Heavy snow (3+ feet) in many places on this trail. Hard to follow the trail about 1.5 miles from Bear Lake since people wandered on many routes. We found our way through and later one there were 4 sections of steep sided snow that was turning really slushy. Was easier to make it over in our boots than with spikes due to the slush. Gorgeous, rewarding hike. Views of Odessa and Fern Lakes were jaw dropping.

CM Stevens
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 22, 2019
HikingMuddySnow

This is still one of my favorite hikes in RMNP, however we could not finish this stretch today. At about two miles from Bear Lake the snow was too deep and we completely lost the trail, even with GPS. Wait on this one. This stretch will take weeks to thaw. Too bad because the views are spectacular.

Phong Lê
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 5, 2019
HikingIcyScrambleSnow
View Phong's Recording
Abbie Muhlstadt
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarOctober 4, 2018

This was a very beautiful hike. I would suggest starting at Bear Lake Trailhead and hiking to the Fern Lake Trailhead, NOT vice versa. (We decided to start at Fern Lake Trailhead so that we would end at Bear Lake, and we regretted it. We hiked at a tough rocky incline for ~ 7 miles before finally getting to descend for the last ~ 3 miles. We were sore from extensive hiking the day before, and we struggled.) If you start at Bear Lake, you have a tough first 3 miles, but then it’s completely downhill after that point. Despite the difficulty, it was undoubtedly a gorgeous hike.

Shawna Organisciak
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 2, 2018

my new favorite in RMNP. what a hike!

Jared M.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 15, 2018
Hiking

For the amount of effort put in, this was a disappointing hike. There are a handful of decent views, but not enough to counter the length, rocky terrain, and incredible amounts of horse poo... Any of the trails at Glacier Gorge are shorter and provide much nicer views for very minimal increase in difficulty.

Linda Howler
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 11, 2018
Hiking

First, this is a great hike, but AllTrails distance and elevation numbers are quite a bit off on this trail, as the RMNP maps and our tracking suggested it was about 10.5 miles and not 16.2. The hike is nice most of the way, but it becomes truly spectacular about 3 miles in as you reach the top of the elevation from Bear Lake Trailhead, turn the corner and start heading down to Odessa Lake. That mile down to Odessa goes through an amazing valley with big views all the way! And it's easy to miss, but there is a wonderful, unmarked viewpoint just before the trail turns the corner that we would have missed if people hadn't been up there making noise, so look for it, and if you miss it, turn back 50 yards or so and look for it again. It has incredible 360 degree views that were my husband's favorite part of the hike! After arriving down at Odessa Lake, many people turn around and head back up the way they came in, and having done the whole trail, I would say that that is what I will do next time, because, pretty as it is from Odessa to the Fern Lake Trailhead, I would rather hike that spectacular mile or so from Odessa to the top again. But if you do it one way, definitely start at Bear Lake, because the views going down the valley are the best. Enjoy!

CM Stevens
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 4, 2018
Hiking

This is an amazing hike with lots of diverse topography and awesome views. Four lakes, meadows, waterfalls and sweeping vistas. We took the shuttle from Fern Lake to Bear Lake and walked back to the car. This is a great route since the majority of it is downhill. Just keep in mind you have an extra .7 miles to get from the Fern Lake Trails head back to the shuttle parking lot. Although the trails head at Bear Lake was a mad house, once you get a little elevation it gets pretty quiet. We had Odessa Lake all to ourselves. Got busy again as we got closer to Fern Lake and the falls. If you can take the distance, this is an incredible hike in RMNP.

M. T. Tarrall
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 16, 2018
Hiking

Did this from Bear Lake to the Fern Lake Bus stop last Saturday 8/11. I am in Rock Mtn. NP most weekend either hiking or on snowshoes. This is my very favorite longer hike since Sky Pond has become so mobbed. I think the section around the side of Joe Mill Mtn is really fun - love the views down to Odessa Lake. You won't be by yourself but no where near as crowed as the Glacier Gorge trail system.

Doug Horst
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 27, 2018

Did just point-to-point then took the shuttle, but this was one of my all-time favorite hikes from the picas above timberline, to the creekside columbines between Odessa & Fern Lakes, and topped by the black bear cub between Fern Falls & "The Pool." Others have reported moose sightings.. guess I need to go back!

Joe Rinella
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 22, 2018

Hiked and did some backcountry camping on this trail over the weekend. It really lives up to the dozens of reviews for being a really beautiful hike. Taking this route from the entry point of Bear Lake to the exit point at the Fern Lake trailhead is a great way to go- especially if you’re carrying about 25-30 lbs. on your back. There is some elevation gain at the start till you get to the hard right turn about 3.7 miles into the hike. At this point, some of the most beautiful views on the hike appear as you descend to Odessa Lake. While this trail does not take you right next to Odessa Lake, you get a nice view from the elevated trail vantage point. But, there is a trail that connects to the lake if you want to back-track to see it up close along with the rushing creek waters. Continuing on another .8 mile takes you to Fern lake. This is a beautiful high mountain lake with some overflow ponds and a creek with waterfall. All of this water is great for filtering and drinking and cooking. There was a duck family there with ducklings. Also there were quite a few cut throat trout in the lake too. We camped at the group camping spot which is a nice area not too far from the lake. We checked out the individual campsites, and they were quite a walk back up from the lake. I didn’t care for them too much. We hiked to Spruce lake in the evening and the trail is rougher but manageable. There is nothing spectacular about this lake. The campsite was quiet and the privy was not far off from the group camping area. The next day we headed for the Fern Lake trailhead. It’s basically a downhill journey all the way but passes through several waterfalls and rushing streams. There are a lot of wildflowers and you will want to visit the Arches Rocks formations. The views on this side aren’t as spectacular, but still nice. I am not happy about all the piles of horse poop on this side of the trail. I know they say it degrades, but it’s just a mess trying to dodge the nasty stuff IMO. The stated mileage is not correct from what I can see for this trail. With our extra hike to Spruce Lake, we clocked 14 miles. We had someone pick us up at the Fern Lake trailhead because there’s not much parking. See my recording and pic’s for a highlight of the trip. All in all, a beautiful hike.

Timothy Falter
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 19, 2018
Backpacking

We arrived at the Bear Lake trail head about 12 to 1 pm and started the hike shortly after. We were in three groups with different experience levels. I was the least experienced and least fit on the three groups. Thankfully I had a buddy that stayed with me through day one of the hike. The first evening we hiked the first part of the bear lake trail until it intersected with the Flattop Mountain Trail and made a sharp left onto the Flattop Mountain trail. We followed the trail until it intersected with the Fern Lake Trail. We then followed that past lake Odessa and on to Fern Lake. We arrived at Fern lake and made camp on the far side of the lake in one of the camp sites. Reservations needed. The next day we broke camp and followed Fern lake trail to The Pool and broke for lunch at The Pool. As we broke for lunch I found The Pool a great place to remove my boots and socks and soak those tied dogs in the cold crisp icy water of the Thompson River. As you arrive at The Pool, if you cross the little log bridge, you will find a nice rock with a trail / elevation designator on it and that rock makes an awesome place to get to the rivers edge for a good foot soak. We then followed Fern Lake trail past through the huge rocks, and on to the Fern Lake trail head. It was a beautiful hike through the mountains. I’m actually looking forward to another pass through this trail. The highlights of this particular hike has to be as you turn the corner of the trail and start the decent into the valley toward Odessa Lake, the scenery is beautiful to say the least. Norman Rockwell would have loved this picturesque valley. As you start the decent into the valley toward Lake Odessa I felt that the terrain changed and became more challenging. First your working a different set of muscles now as your hiking downhill and second the trail is now covered with many more large rocks to traverse on your descent. For those of us in a little less than great shape this is a bigger challenge than for those with the skills of a mountain goat. My sons highlight of the trail was the little pesky chip monks who take up residence at The Pool. They will gladly accept any handouts and stuff their little cheeks full. It was a wonderful nearly 17 miles and hopefully the first of many more such adventures.

Angela Lanciaux
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 16, 2018
Hiking

Lovely hike with many beautiful lakes along the way. We started at Bear Lake and hiked thru to the Fern Lake trailhead which clocked in at 11.4 miles on my Fitbit. From Fern Lake it is another .7 miles to the RMNP shuttle. It took us about 5 hours, with stops, to complete. The first 3-4 miles of the hike is a steady ascent and the rest is all downhill. We ran into one snow patch along the way that was easily traversed (early July). Stop at every lake along the way- they are spectacular. Keep an eye out for an unmarked trail on your left that leads to Lake Helene. It's about half a mile past the Sourdough Backcountry Campsite and is a great stop for views and lunch. Lake Odessa is about 4.5 miles in and you need to hike down to get to it. Incredible views. We also passed Spruce Lake, Fern Lake, and Fern Falls. We didn't see many people along the way and the views descending into Odessa Gorge are spectacular. Horses are allowed on the trail, and the droppings get pretty bad the last 3 miles near Fern Lake. Overall, this is a beautiful, long hike that offers gorgeous views of RMNP.

Simon Guérard
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJune 26, 2018
Hiking

Unlike what is indicated, you do NOT need to go back and forth. Leave the car, hike one way, take the bus. Great hike, many lakes, and not as crowded as the emerald, mills, skypond lakes

Rod Hunsaker
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 3, 2018
Hiking

Fabulous hike yesterday (6/2/18). Started at Bear Lake and went to Fern Lake trail head. Completed Trip in 6 hours. Stopped at each lake. Snow fields were encountered all the way from 1 mile from Lake Helene to Odessa Lake and patches from Odessa lake to Fern Lake. Rented micro spikes but ended up keeping them in the bag the whole time. Didn’t need them. Just go slow. Well worth the time spent. Will do it again!!!

Chris Ruhnke
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarApril 29, 2018
Hiking

We did the first 1.5-2 miles from Bear Lake, but made it to 10k elevation before turning back. Snow was still 2-3 feet deep at points, but packed down well enough to walk on without sinking in. The only trouble is that it’s icy at points, especially late in the day, so be sure to have a good walking stick and decent trail shoes if not cleats. So beautiful and breathtaking. You won’t be sorry.

Glyn Dix
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFebruary 21, 2018
Hiking

Simply amazing! Go see for yourself, no disappointments

Andrew Duggan
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarOctober 8, 2017
Backpacking

Awesome trip. Went in early October and it got pretty icy close to Odessa lake. I would consider this a nice smooth trail with no major concerns. Takes about 3-4 hours depending on your stops. The scenery was absolutely beautiful and has several spots to camp, so take your pick. Spent 2.5 days on the trail and absolutely worth it!

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