Help keep our trails and parks open during COVID-19 by committing to social distancing. Some trails or park services may be closed so check with local authorities before heading out.
Learn more

Odessa Lake Via Fern Lake Trail

moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(229)
Rocky Mountain National Park

Odessa Lake Via Fern Lake Trail is a 8.3 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 June until October. Horses are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 8.3 miles Elevation Gain: 2,004 feet Route Type: Out & Back

camping

hiking

horseback riding

nature trips

walking

running

forest

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

muddy

rocky

no dogs

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.

hiking
muddy
snow
1 day ago

I started at about 3pm and was actually attempting Little Matterhorn, but ran out of time in the day due to the slow going on the trail. Within 1/2 mile of Bear Lake, I had to put on my crampons. The pace was quite slow due to the snow being mounded on the trail at variable heights. About every 20 feet or so, the snow was soft and stepping up or down into the existing footprints was difficult. Pushing through the snow when I thought it would hold happened dozens of times. Just about each time, the result was a bit of snow in my boots a higher risk of potential injury. Hiking alone that's not a great risk to take. When I hit the open snowfield at about 2 miles in, there were footprints all over the place and it was tough keeping to the trail without constantly checking GPS. I hadn't seen anyone for over an hour at that point, but while pausing for a drink, heard a faint yelling down the slope where there was no trail. I yelled back and could hear them call for help. After a few minutes of calling back and forth and walking toward one another, I met up with a guy in his 20's who was a bit distraught. He said he and his girlfriend had lost the trail and could not find the way back to it. He had told her to stay put, so she was much further down the slope, maybe 1/3 of a mile from the trail. We walked toward her calling back and forth, then I led them back up to the trail and helped them get oriented to head back down to Bear Lake. Understandably, they were not up for continuing the hike after that situation. If you end up reading this, best of luck to you Evan and Sofia! This time of year, it is a difficult trail to follow. I can tell it's well marked when it's clear of snow, but right now it's a difficult hike and you should be prepared to go much slower than usual as well as having good equipment/methods for keeping yourself on the trail. I continued slogging onward at an even slower pace due to the snow conditions. Upon arriving at a rocky outcropping, I finally got to witness the view down to lake Odessa. It was absolutely stunning. The valley that had been to my left stopped climbing at that point and plunged down to a larger valley with the lake snug on the floor of it. Steve Lannon

hiking
snow
3 months ago

Attempted to hike to Two Rivers lake via the Fern Lake/Odessa trail. With spikes I was able to make it a few miles out from Bear Lake trailhead, but half way I encountered a clearing on the side of the mountain where wind had swept the trail and previous tracks away. Without snowshoes or skis, and hiking alone, I turned back after losing the pack and postholing for a bit. Still a great trail, and a few hikers I passed on my way back had received some hints from the rangers on how to find the trail after crossing the clearing.

hiking
4 months ago

Attempted on 1/16 /20 via Fern Lake trail. 1 mile or so past the Flat Top split, snow shoes were necessary. 1/2mi or so after that, the tracks we were following turned around. We had trouble finding the route, even with Alltrails app and GPS, but had lots of fun trying. Ended up on an outcrop that awarded fantastic, panoramic views of all the peaks, with Fern and Odessa far below. We were tired from breaking trail, and also thought our accidental views were some of the best we'd ever seen. Not to mention Fern and Odessa looked SO FAR down. So we decided to turn around here. Expect a navigational adventure if you attempt any time soon!

hiking
icy
snow
5 months ago

Hiked after the first snow of the season, and was making first tracks in several sections. It is tough without mini spikes, especially as you descend past the notch top mountain toward Odessa lake. I turned back due to the high winds, exposure and large snow drifts. Awesome in the snow but I look forward to the spring when the snow melts so I can get after it again.

hiking
7 months ago

arrived at 730 am on monday 10/7. there was plenty of parking. we were 2nd car in lot. hike is amazing! beautiful fall colors in full force right now. the waterfall and lakes along the way are beautiful. it is cold at the top! we saw icicles on dead logs in the lake. left at noon and all the lots were full! with people still trying to just arrive

hiking
7 months ago

Great Trail, It isn't too steep, getting over to Lake Helene was a little confusing, but not awful. I am grateful I took a GPS. I went down to Fern and came back up, its not that steep, but if your not used to it it could be difficult, the views are incredible. Their was a little ice on the trail as of this writing, nothing to worry about.

Hikes on 10/6. Arrived at Bear Lake TH at 6 am. Finished around 1145 with photo breaks and 20 lunch at Cub Lake. Hiked to lake Helena (not marked but short spur to see). Also saw Odessa, Fern, and Cub. View of Odessa from top was best part of trail. Most of the elevation is at the beginning. I am 38 in average shape and not used to high elevations. Great trail.

hiking
8 months ago

Stupendous! Started at Bear Lake and looped the Fern Lake Trail to the shuttle stop. Saw Bear Lake, Helena Lake, Odessa Lake, Fern Lake, Fern Falls and Gorgeous Fall colors. Clocked 10.6 miles total. Will do this (loop)again! (Note: doing it this way you will need to take the shuttle system back to bear lake to pick up your car.) You will be walking down hill from Odessa Lake to the Fern Lake Trail Head and you need to walk an additional .08 miles to the shuttle stop. But overall it was a great day and will be repeated!

hiking
8 months ago

Great day to hike 3 beautiful Lakes (Helene, Odessa and Fern) from Bear Lake. I enjoy this easy gradual trail once a year. The Aspens have started to turn their fall colors, but a week to go before full bloom.

hiking
8 months ago

Hiked from Bear Lake to the Fern Lake TH and there were things I loved about this hike, but it lost some stars due to the amount of loose rock and horse crap between Fern Lake and The Pool. Odessa Lake was amazing. We somehow missed the turnoff to Helene, so we did not get to see that this time.

hiking
8 months ago

Love this hike. Started at Fern Lake trail. Beautiful walk along the big Thompson until you hit the pool. Steady climb to Falls, Fern Lake and Odessa. The walk up to Odessa is like a beautiful movie with ribbons of water coming down. Started at 8:15. Parked at last spot near trailhead. Plenty of Elk coming in and going out. However, the line to get in park at 1:30 was all the way back to Beaver visitor center. Go early!

hiking
bugs
scramble
8 months ago

I was really disappointed in this trail. It's buggy, muddy, and extremely boring. There are no views for the first 3 miles, the first 2 miles are flat and awful. The hike up to fern falls/lake is difficult and still boring. I've heard going through Bear lake is better, we went through fern lake trailhead and was SO disappointed.

Great views and easy hike. Slightly crowded but The lake is beautiful! Would recommend to everyone!!

hiking
rocky
9 months ago

It’s was a perfect morning this Sat. I got there just before 7 AM, started about 7:15 AM and left around 1:45 PM. The parking at Bear Lake was nearly full. I started at Bear Lake, taking Fern Lake Trail to Odessa Lake. On the way back, I stopped at Lake Helene climbed off trail a bit to get a view of all three lakes (Odessa, Helene and Two Rivers) and also Two Rivers Lake. The falls leading into Odessa Lake was beautiful, and there were plenty of wildflowers. I decided to have my lunch here. The bugs at Lake Helene were annoying but they seemed to be mainly concentrate here. Overall the hike was a steady grade up, then down and vice versa. I completed the hike in ~6.5 hours but it could be done much quicker if you didn’t stop to take pictures of everything like I do and I drank 1.5 liters of water. I’d give it a 6.5/10 (with 10 being very difficult) difficulty.

hiking
9 months ago

This definitely was one of our favorites, too, in the park. We parked at fern lake shuttle stop and got on the first one of the day to the park and ride. Changed to the Bear lake bus and were hiking by 8:30. As others have reported, this direction to Odessa seems to be a bit more user friendly. There was a steady up and then a rocky descent to Odessa. So many gorgeous views. Trail was active but not overly crowded for the beginning of Labor Day weekend. After lunch at Odessa we headed down to Fern Lake, the falls and the Pool-back at the car before 1pm.

hiking
9 months ago

Absolutely beautiful views! Come in from Bear lake for an easier hike and end at Fern Lake. But don't miss Lake Helene on the way. Both are much more picturesque than Fern. Our favorite hike so far in RMNP.

hiking
9 months ago

One of my favorites - parked in the fern lake lot and took the bus to bear lake. Walked from there back to fern lake. Steady incline for first two hours - some slippery spots on the way back down due to stones. We completed the hike with our 5yo in about 6 hours. Lots of mosquitoes by fern lake.

hiking
rocky
9 months ago

This trail was amazing, I got some fantastic pictures! Ended up doing the out and back from bear lake to Fern lake, took about 5.5 hours round trip. I arrived at the bear lake trailhead at 6am on a Saturday, there was plenty of parking and didn't see any other people once I left the trailhead until I turned around to come back. This trail is very rocky though, please wear ankle support.

hiking
rocky
9 months ago

Beautiful trail with great views!! We started at bear lake and ended at fern lake. It’s another 4 miles to the beginning of fern lake trailhead and another .7 miles down the road to the shuttle bus. Highly recommend going all the way out and take the shuttle back to bear lake! In total it was about 12.5 miles (also hit lake Helene) and about 5 hours!!

hiking
9 months ago

One of the best hikes in Rocky Mtn Park. Like most people, I did it as a point-to-point, starting at Bear Lake and ending at the Fern Lake trailhead. Frankly, it would probably be better if this route were not listed as an "out-and-back", since not too many folks are going to go both up and down (although I confess that I did do that about 35 years ago). That having been said, this hike is simply amazingly gorgeous. The only point at which it was unclear was at Fern Lake, where I saw no sign at the horse corral indicating that you should take the right fork at the intersection there.

9 months ago

trail is easy to follow, if you start at fern lake your going up most of the way through switchbacks, first 2 miles are a nice stroll. went all the way to bear lake and took the shuttle back, about 9 or 10 miles! lots of pretty lakes along the way and even saw a moose and some baby deer. started at 6 AM, got to near bear lake around 11. bring bug spray! they are relentless

hiking
9 months ago

I could not find the actual leg we did listed in AllTrails. We did Bear Lake Trailhead to Fern Lake trailhead, a very popular one-way 11 mile hike which many people say is one of the best day hikes in all of the Rocky Mountains. Park the car at Fern Lake Trailhead and take the shuttle to the Bear Lake Trailhead (change Shuttles at the park and ride). Then hike the 11 miles down to Fern Lake Trailhead and your car. Or park at the Park and Ride and take the Shuttle to Bear Lake Trailhead, do the hike, then catch the shuttle to the Park and Ride. That is probably best. Going from Fern Lake Trailhead to Bear Lake Trailhead is much more climbing as Bear Lake is much higher, so it is best to start from the Bear Lake Trailhead. The trail is extremely well marked along the way. It is world-class beautiful. Starting from Bear Lake, you climb 1500 feet for 2.5 miles, then it is all down hill to Fern Lake Trailhead. We are 62 years old but fit hikers. It took us about 6 hours because I stopped a lot to shoot and I carried a lot of camera gear. I am a photographer. Many shots here. https://www.flickr.com/photos/139148982@N02/albums/72157709930300111 We were rained on very hard for almost 2 hours at the start. Saw many ill-equipped hikers. Need a rain jacket of course (that high in the mountains for sure). Did the hike on 10 August, 2019. All Trails needs to add a trail called "Bear Lake Trailhead to Fern Lake Trailhead". My recoding was bad because GPS was in and out due to heavy cloud cover. Do this hike. It is the best day hake in RMNP.

hiking
9 months ago

Hiked in reverse from Bear Lake and continued to Fern Lake trailhead to save considerable elevation gain. Bear Lake parking full by 710am so had to use RMNP shuttle. Hike was mostly downhill after reaching Lake Helene 1.5 hrs into hike from Bear Lake trailhead. Not much to see up until Lake Helene, but amazing views of Grace Falls, Notchtop Mountain, and skyline just last as we entered Odessa Gourge about 15 minutes later. Backtracked slightly from trail along beautiful stream to reach Odessa Lake which also offered great views about 2.75 hrs into hike. Then hit Fern Lake, Fern Falls, and the Pool over the next 2 hrs. Lots to see along hike to the Pool with adjacent streams/falls. Cool rock formations just past the Pool, but not much to see on final 1.5 miles and then had to add another 0.7 miles from Fern Lake trailhead to reach RMNP shuttle back to Bear Lake parking. All in all, amazing hike except a few miles before Lake Helene and 1.5 miles after the Pool (10+ total miles). Highly recommended with lots of diversity. Definitely one of the better hikes I’ve done in RMNP, but liked Sky Pond more. Took 6.5 hours total with plenty of breaks and lunch at Odessa with a group of varying levels of fitness.

hiking
10 months ago

Our mileage was definitely more than what AllTrails shows. Took 8 kids and 3 adults to Fern Lake, and I took 3 of the kids up to Odessa. Absolutely gorgeous hike. the lower portion was pretty busy, but we found solitude beyond Fern Lake. Mosquitos were moderately annoying.

hiking
10 months ago

We hiked with our 13 year old 07/28/19 from Bear lake trailhead to fern lake trailhead( plus walk to shuttle) as going in opposite direction has even more elevation gain. This was our favourite hike of our trip in RMNP! For the first 1.5miles from bear it is a steady climb but starts to even out. Lake Helene was nice but you have to continue on to Odessa for the real beauty! Past Helene we came to two areas that we had to pass over Snow covered ridges but we made it through with trail runners. Once up in the ridge gorgeous views of Odessa lake below. Odessa is so worth the hike! Rested there and filtered some cool alpine lake water! Didn’t stop to long at Fern lake as nothing can compare to Odessa. Fern falls were nice but thought that Margeurite falls were even nicer. As you walk by the falls mist you off. The pool was gorgeous. Bugs were not an issue for us but maybe its because we are from Manitoba and nothing compares to our mosquitos! Took our family a total of 5.5 hrs to finish with a few rest stops. Can’t wait to get back to Odessa on our next trip!!

hiking
10 months ago

Hiked 7/13/19. Mosquitos = 0 AllTrails stars. Sitting lakeside by Odessa taking in the beauty of nature = 5 AllTrails stars.

Showing results 1 - 27 of 229