Baker Gulch to Bowen Gulch Lake

MODERATE 30 reviews
#1 of 5 trails in

Baker Gulch to Bowen Gulch Lake is a 19 mile loop trail located near Grand Lake, Colorado that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, and backpacking and is best used from April until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
19.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
4,757 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

backpacking

camping

hiking

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

snow

backpacking
53 minutes ago

My wife and I did this as a counter- clockwise overnight backpacking loop on August 14th. Amazing trail. The hike up to Parika was pretty strenuous but we did it in about 5 hours. 3 groups camped at the smaller unnamed lake just below Parika so we had Parika lake to ourselves. We didn't see any moose that day but had one running and grunting right outside of our tent at about 9pm so we didn't get much sleep! The stretch over Parika pass and Bowen Pass was amazing! The exposure isn't too bad and we could have sat on the other side of Bowen Pass all day. Saw two bull moose on the way down and made it to the car in about 7 hours. Loved this loop and definitely recommend going counter-clockwise!!

6 days ago

I consider this trail to be strenuous, and I typically only seek out strenous trail. 2nd time to Parika Lake on a day hike, and since I had my head lamp with decided to do the whole trail instead of walk the same trail. Past Parika Lake is some pretty heavy exposure to me. Your essentially hiking a narrow ridge with dramatic vertical dropoffs and the wind along those ridges is steady and huge. Glad I made it down safely because I didn't expect the trail to keep climbing like that. Like another hiker said two continental divide crossing past Parika Lake. Cake walk down hill after that. My legs were just noodles. I wouldn't want to hike it clockwise, because I feel going downhill,on those exposed areas would be shady. I rate it strenuous.

backpacking
21 days ago

Great backpacking trail. Amazing views on the divide, and some of the best wildflowers I’ve ever seen (columbines, Indian paintbrush in vivid reds and pinks, elephants head, shooting stars, daisies, sunflowers, etc). We actually camped by a small lake before reaching Parika Lake, which I think was more in the trees and less in the wind. Saw a moose leaving Bowen Lake, and lost of moose prints wherever we went. We were a little misled on the mileage for each day (based on other sites’ descriptions), for example the last day is closer to 7 miles than the 4 we thought it would be, although it is almost all downhill. Going up to Bowen Lake does have some decent uphill, so be ready for that. Also the signage could have been better leaving Bowen Lake to return to the trailhead, as after meeting back up with the trail there were two forks without signs that we needed to consult maps to figure out which way to go. Overall a great hike that I highly recommend!

hiking
29 days ago

Great loop with lots of vertical. One night at bowen lake was plenty for the entire loop.

30 days ago

A lot of moose. both lakes were very crowded, for a reason. it is beautiful.

1 month ago

This route is not dog friendly. It starts inside the national Park, there are signs everywhere Prohibiting you to take your dog past the gate. I’m sure it’s a nice hike, but I spent two hours getting here and now can’t take my dog and I don’t trust the app.

backpacking
1 month ago

Insanely beautiful. Felt very wild. I would agree that this is very strenuous, but if you take your time it's fine. Heres a video of my trip https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zezQ7E2FbA

backpacking
3 months ago

Attempted this loop 5/19. Saw 7 moose and signs of bears. Went counterclockwise with the intent of camping near Bowen lake. Made it to Bowen lake trail junction and decided not to continue due to waist deep snow. Will be back later in the summer.

10 months ago

Amazing trail, really beautiful and scenic. Just wanted to note that All Trails rates this as moderate. This is definitely hard/strenuous. We did go the opposite direction as All Trails has listed and ran into a ranger who told us that we were hiking the "harder" direction...but I can't imagine the other way being much easier. No permits made it much nicer to plan than backpacking in RMNP.

backpacking
Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Don't be fooled. This is pretty darn strenuous, but very worth it. Hiked to Parika Lake to camp 1 night. Started to rain the last mile. There were 3 groups already there when we arrived, but there is plenty of spots to tent. A male moose showed up at dusk to survey our campsite and we saw a mama and her baby on the trail. Beautiful in the morning and well worth the trip. So many wildflowers on the trail, larkspur, columbine, etc. There is a pretty significant rock slide area and when ran into horseback riders who had to turn around there. Not sure why they thought they could ride through there!

Tons of clean water, so I wished I had carried less. We crossed 28 streams. Some mud as well.

Monday, July 31, 2017

A really beautiful hike, particularly around Parika Lake and the trail to Bowen Lake. It took us about four hours each day and we saw a bunch of moose along the way, including a couple swimming in Parika Lake. The wild flowers were out in full force too. There were a fair number of mosquitoes at both lakes and we got drizzled on a couple times but really not much to complain about. Highly recommend this loop!

backpacking
Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Didn't find any solitude on this trip. Of course it could have been because yesterday was the 4th of July! Left Colorado Springs about 2am Sunday morning. Got to the trailhead about 5 am. Started hiking around 5:40 am up to Bowen Lake. Didn't see anyone on the trail. Got to Bowen lake shortly before 10 and found about 4 tents set up. Found a spot in some trees towards the back of the lake. The trail was wet and muddy. My Suunto ambit 3 clocked it about 8.39 miles from the parking lot. There are A LOT of downed trees on the trail cutoff to Bowen Lake. We wound up doing some bush whacking to get to the lake. By the end of the day there were about 5 more tents set up around us. People were pretty cool, some had dogs that were well behaved. But no solitude here.
****But allow me to digress. The hike starts out in RMNP and goes into The Never Summer Wilderness. If you get there before the gates are manned you don't have to pay to get in. You don't need an overnight parking permit for the Bowen/Baker TH as you will leave RMNP about 3/4's to 1 mile in.
We were planning to spend 2 nights but saw signs about roads being closed due to Independence Day parades so we decided to hump it out on day 2.
Day 2 fun! Started hiking around 7am on Monday. To head to Bowen Pass. Saw a very friendly bunny on the way and a few people. Didn't see any moose or elk. (Saw elk by the parking lot!) there was still snow just below the pass you had to climb up. Dropped down the other side to head toward Fairview mountain and over to Parika Lake. Saw about 3 groups of 2-6 people on this part and maybe a solo hiker. Dropped down about 10 ft of snow at the Pass above Parika. Had lunch by the lake and filtered some water. Was pretty warm once we dropped below the lake but was all downhill back to the car. On this section we passed quite a few people. Mostly day hikers heading up to the lake. And some coming down.
Was beautiful but should have kept to 2 nights. Disappointed because didn't see any moose outside our tent! LOL. And there were A LOT of people. We clocked from Bowen lake back to the car passing Parika Lake at about 13 miles. So close to 22 miles for us. We did go off trail a bit. I did speak to a guy who was up there backpacking a couples weeks before whilst I was soaking in the stream by the TH who said when he was up there he ran into 2 people at the TH and that was it. So if you're looking for solitude don't do it in a holiday or a weekend.

backpacking
Monday, July 03, 2017

Make sure you get an early start above tree line. Storms stack up early on this range.

backpacking
Sunday, September 11, 2016

A group of friends and I do this loop as kind of an "annual" trip every September and it never disappoints! We hiked the loop counter clockwise, making it up to Parika Lake in about 4 hours on Day 1. Fishing is solid at the lake, and every year we always manage to see a few moose there. Day 2 consisted of about a 5 hour hike to Bowen Lake, the regaining of the altitude on the divide can be frustrating but the views more then make up for it! Bowen Lake is plentiful with camp sites and fire rings from previous backpackers. Also you'll more then likely see moose coming to or from Bowen Lake on that small trail. Day 3 is about a 4 hour hike back to the car from Bowen Lake, trail is decently rocky in spots and fairly muddy as well. However 2 of the 4 of us made it just fine in low top trail shoes. All in all its a great loop for a wide range of backpackers, however those new to backpacking or with excessively heavy packs may find it a bit fatiguing!

backpacking
Wednesday, August 31, 2016

amazing hike with option to get on the Continental Divide trail. 3 days 2 nights -- hiked clockwise from trail head. 1st night at Bowen Lake and 2nd at Parika Lake.

Saw a cow moose and her offspring 1 mile below bowen lake off the trail and 3 bull moose at Parika. Storms come quick! I almost got caught in a storm hiking the CD trail from Bowen to Parika.

backpacking
Monday, July 25, 2016

This was my first backpacking trip and it was amazing. Great 3 day 2 night trip with tons to see. I highly recommend this trail to backpackers of all experience levels.

hiking
Monday, August 04, 2014

Solid 3 day 2 night backpacking trip. The first day is spent getting up to Parika lake. Camp at the lake just above timber line. Be sure to get up early day two has two continental divide crossings. You also want to be up and down quickly to avoid any storms that can come up quick. The second night will be spent at Bowen lake. Get up the morning of day three and you are on your back down. Parking is in Rocky Mountain National Park. You can pay for a day pass a leave your vehicle at the trail head for the time you are out and back. This trip is difficult but the rewards are worth it.

hiking
1 month ago

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hiking
11 months ago

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11 months ago

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11 months ago

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11 months ago

hiking
Tuesday, August 15, 2017

hiking
Tuesday, July 11, 2017

hiking
Thursday, June 29, 2017

Monday, August 29, 2016

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Tuesday, May 24, 2016