Lake Helene Trail

MODERATE 66 reviews
#31 of 177 trails in

Lake Helene Trail is a 6 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Estes Park, Colorado that offers the chance to see wildlife and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, horses, and snowshoeing and is accessible year-round. Horses are also able to use this trail.

6.0 miles
1338 feet
Out & Back


horseback riding







no dogs

From Estes Park, take Hwy. 36 to the RMNP entrance, go to the Bear Lake Rd., turn left and follow it to the Bear Lake Trailhead.

3 days ago

My favorite trail in the area. Make it one way from Bear lake to fern lake. Lovely. Moose swimming!

13 days ago

Stopped by Lake Helene on the way to Odessa - I had the lake all to myself. I didn’t find an obvious trail down to the lake, but GPS helped me find it.

Also - if anyone finds micro spikes just west and up above the lake send me a message! I accidentally left them there.

20 days ago

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!!!

24 days ago

I did this trail yesterday. I was a beautiful hike! Still quite a bit of snow which made it a bit difficult in spots. I would recommend snowshoes. We had a lot of slipping and sliding in our hiking boots. There was snow covering around 3/4 of the trail. Lake Helene is beautiful, so I highly recommend. Just know that there is a lot of snow and to prepare for it.

1 month ago

I initially attempted to snowshoe this trail with my roommates back in January, but had to turn back due to poor visibility and 20 mph winds. Yesterday, Mother Nature was on my side, and I was rewarded with beautiful sunny skies all day long!

I started my trek around 10 am and got back to the Bear Lake parking lot around 2 pm. This was a decently challenging trail (especially in snowshoes), which is probably why I only saw 5 or 6 people total throughout my trek.

The snow was deep and slushy at times due to the recent snowfall and warm weather that followed (which added an extra level of difficulty to the trek). But the views upon reaching Two Rivers Lake and Lake Helene made this trip 110 percent worthwhile.

I will definitely be back to tackle this one again and explore a little further!

2 months ago

Did this today. Perfectly clear, warm morning which was wonderful. The first 2 miles were great with hiking boots and micro spikes, but the last .75 had lots of post-holing and wet socks. Can be done without snowshoes, but I would recommend them if you're looking for a trouble free hike. Super easy (no hard climbs or switchbacks) and lots of fresh mountain air!

2 months ago

Absolutely beautiful hike. Not too difficult and definitely worth it. Amazing views of Notchtop and Flattop. Beautiful day today (4/3) but pretty windy. Snowshoes are definitely a must. Might be able to get by with microspikes but prepare for postholing. Especially with the wind, the trail is somewhat difficult to follow. There were a few times I pulled up my AllTrails map to find where the trail was. It’s just not too obvious with all the snow, especially the closer you get to Mill Creek, Two Rivers Lake, and Helene. Planned on continuing down to Odessa but as said below, the gorge looked like a death trap.

3 months ago

3/8-3/9 2018

You need traction from Bear Lake to Lake Helene. Trail is hard packed and slick for most of the way to the Flattop junction. After that I'd recommend snowshoes simply because if you step outside the narrow line of hard pack you are in for a surprise posthole. Winds and snow night of 3/8 scoured off many long stretches of visible signs of the trail past the banana bowl.

Grace Falls is absolutely massive this year. Did not venture down to Odessa. The gorge looked like a deathtrap.

5 months ago

Great trail, easy with pretty views. We went yesterday and the weather was gorgeous- packed snow and we just needed spikes. However, last night and this morning the mountains got a ton of snow— I would assume you would need snow shoes now. Trail is well marked and easy to follow- just keep looking for Odessa Lake signs.

5 months ago

Such a gorgeous area. Today we wore micro spikes and Yak Trax. Spikes were better. I was glad I had a pole for stability in a couple of stretches. Most of the trail is packed snow, but some areas are more difficult to follow because of blowing snow. We wished we had snow shoes the last 500 feet. Overall a great day.

5 months ago

Trail is all hard-packed, no snowshoes necessary. Microspikes were very useful, but bare boots are also feasible. Both Two Rivers Lake and Lake Helene are frozen solid. Make sure you walk across Two Rivers and continue 1/4 mile to get to Helene - the views are worth it!

5 months ago

1.5 miles in, snow-shoes are required going across the screes. Trail is fairly well traveled so you can find your way. Was real windy yesterday in bright sun and was beautiful for both Lake Helene and Two Rivers Lake.

5 months ago

Great trail! You need snowshoes and a wind coat it gets very deep.

5 months ago

12/28/17 Take snow shoes and poles. The snow was packed down the first 2.5 miles but towards the end the snow was too deep and I had to turn back bc I only had my micro spikes.

8 months ago

awesome trail. great views of some nearby peaks that were snow covered or boulder strewn. after you reach the pinnacle of the trail you start a step descent on the side of the mountain that shows how steep of a drop it is.

11 months ago

Completed on 7/16 as a lite prep for Long's the next day, this trail perfectly fit the ticket. Got to Helene quickly enough with plenty of opportunities to enjoy and photograph Notchtop and Knobtop in solitude while the lake was still calm and reflective. I didn't find there to be many good seating areas to relax with views around Helene herself, but continuing just north toward Notchtop a bit there are spectacular rock outcroppings on which to recline on and read while overlooking the valley draining into Odessa, Fern, etc. Can't beat this as a lounge spot! Being inspired by this view I tacked on Odessa, which was a standard beautiful mountain lake, and returning to Helene decided to find Two Rivers Lake. This was the most fun of the route as there is no signage or obvious maintained trail, but several faint footpaths just prior to the trail fork to Odessa. Basically where Odessa forks right, walk 50 more paces and fork left, bush wack for a short bit, and Two Rivers will come into view. It is similar to Helene but slightly smaller, rockier, harder to navigate around, and with zero other people to share it.

The route is forested the entire way with occasional meadows yielding views and plenty of snow melt making this mushy and sometimes slippery. At one point a snow field still exists that makes it easy to lose the trail.

11 months ago

7/15/17 This trail was worth every step! It was mostly shaded along the trail, stunning 360 views, and saw a deer. There is one big patch of snow where, if you're not careful, you can lose the trail. It slightly goes go straight over it and follow the creek. Yak tracks recommended. I arrived at 7:30am and the lots were full. Had to go to the park and ride.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Was amazing . Lot of snow residues when I went ( June 18)
Went completely off trail
Highly recommend hiking shoe for this one . Ended up wearing tennis shoe and made my life miserable to an extent

Monday, June 12, 2017

This is one of my favorite trails in RMNP. Hiked 6/11/17. 99% of the trail was packed snow. I saw people with only tennis shoes on, however they were having a very, very hard time. I had hiking boots with heavy duty yak tracks, which I highly suggest. I could not find the trail to Odessa, due to snow. Beautiful views, very few people on the hike and perfect weather. If you take this trail soon, there is a portion where the paths in the snow split, do not take the higher path, which is icy and on the side of the mountain. Take the lower path and go through the trees, much more safe! I also suggest using an app or navigation to track your path as snow melts quickly and it can be difficult to find footprints.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

This had some of the best views I've ever seen! You definitely need yaktracks right now and trekking poles would be a big help. Although some of the trail is packed, I was falling through the snow a lot. It was completely worth it for all of the amazing views though. I even saw moose tracks! I'd definitely recommend this trail.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Snowshoed to Lake Helene from Bear Lake Trailhead on Sat. 04-Mar-2017 via Flat Top Mountain Trail and Fern Lake Trail. Not surprisingly, Bear Lake Trailhead parking lot was crowded by 9AM. Bear Lake itself was a zoo and several groups were encountered up to the Fern Lake/Flat Top trail intersection, after which only three or so groups were seen.

Weather in this area in March is a toss up--This particular day was clear and sunny and snowshoes may not have been strictly necessary, but were certainly useful for off-trail exploring and walking across Two Rivers Lake and Lake Helene. The snowfields on the northeastern slope of Flat Top Mountain can be very windy and the trail (when covered in snow...) is poorly defined. A map/compass or GPS is useful here, but it wouldn't be too difficult to pick up the trail in the trees on the other side.

Bottom line: highly recommend this hike. After the first mile or so it is less crowded (at this time of year...) than other hikes in the immediate area, and the soaring views of Flat Top Mountain from Lake Helene are fantastic.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Spectacular snowshoeing hike in the winter. Not well marked it all so definitely ask one of the volunteers for directions and a small map

Thursday, October 27, 2016

I absolutely loved this hike and would do it again! Not only is the end spectacular but the entire hike was full of spectacular views. There are very few trails that I actually enjoy the scenery the entire time. Such a great hike.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Small lake with big views. The trail isn't marked, if you get out of forest and to switch back that starts going downhill on the side of mountain you've gone too far.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The small trail that leads to Lake Helene from the Fern Lake/Odessa Lake trail is not marked. A great hike, but look out for trails leading to the left otherwise you'll keep going and end up at Odessa Lake, which is gorgeous on its own.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Decent, moderate hike. Starts at bear lake where you can go left towards emerald/dream/nymph lake and go right towards lake Odessa/Helene and a few others. We did all in one trip - lakes to the right were pretty but much easier to get to.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Great hike, despite lingering snow. It starts around 1.5 mi in but the trail remains eat too follow since the snow is patchy. There is a short sloping snow field that you walk horizontally across on the talus at about 2.35 mi - it could be a bit hairy if you aren't careful. Spend the time going up above the lake a bit to get gorgeous views of Notchtop, the gorge, and Odessa Lake. You should probably do yourself a favor and wait for the trail down to Odessa to melt a bit before taking it, though. There was a rock slide on the trail, plus with the mix of snow and ice on the incline, it is currently dangerous. Conditions are changing quickly, though.

Monday, January 11, 2016

I wouldn't call it easy, at least in the winter after fresh snow, but definitely a trek worth doing. Hang to the right at the large clearing and then work you're way towards Notchtop. The route we took took also took us across Two Rivers Lake and then to Helene. As stated in an earlier review, the view of Notchtop is spectacular even in winter.

cross country skiing
Friday, January 01, 2016

One of the easier "long" lake hikes in the park. The way up is very moderate, and the way down is incredibly easy. Lots of people reach Two Rivers Lake first in the winter thinking its Helene, but you need to cross Two Rivers headed towards Notchtop in order to actually reach Helene. The views on the way up are so so... There is a great overlook of Beirstadt Lake about halfway. Once you get to the top however, it's one of my favorite spots in the park. Great views of Notchtop!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Nice snowshoe hike with spectacular views at the lake.

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