Thunder Lake Trail

HARD 14 reviews
#47 of 129 trails in

Thunder Lake Trail is a 11.5 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Allenspark, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October. Horses are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
11.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2306 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

walking

horseback riding

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

rocky

Thunder Lake (10,574') is a popular destination in the Wild Basin. It's located in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), so you'll need a park pass, or pay an entrance fee. Begin your journey on the well marked trail at the Wild Basin trail-head. After about 2.7 miles, you'll encounter a junction: left to Bluebird Lake, right to Thunder Lake. It is in this area, on the north side of the trail that there are many back-country camp sites. A gradual ascent on the well-maintained Bluebird Lake Trail for another 3.6 miles past the junction will get you to the Lake. You'll be rewarded with views of the Continental Divide, Boulder-Grand Pass, Tanima Peak, Pilot Mountain, and the massive Mount Alice.

backpacking
31 minutes ago

This was an amazing hike! It's very rocky in some areas, and is quite a long hike, but worth every step. The view is incredible. There is still a lot of snow up there, so be sure to wear boots. The trail gets lost under the snow, so follow the footprints. The ranger station is no longer under snow, but there is nobody stationed there yet. Our 10 year old daughter did this with us, and although it's challenging, it definitely doable!

backpacking
13 days ago

We did a one nighter last weekend. Still lots of snow but packed. Lake was about 80-90% frozen that made it easy to pump water. GPS was helpful to help us get to the lake and not waste time guessing since the trail was 100% covered in snow and NO TRAIL MARKERS noted on trees as guidance. Ranger station was buried halfway in snow. We saw two guys up there but they were day hikers. We had the lake to ourselves. We camped in snow. If you're not keen on doing that maybe another month or so would be best. Two ways to get up there. The trail splits at the sign where it reads No Llamas. To the right. This is the split that's shorter to get to Thunder lake by almost a mile but it's wet and rocky. This is less used by day hikers in general. If you choose to take the other trail it is longer and undulating and as you go higher is covered in snow but dry to Ouzel Falls.

hiking
23 days ago

Didn't go all the way. Deep snow but packed providing a good workout. Would recommend crampons for traction. Again good workout with snow but we didn't really care if we made it to the lake.

9 months ago

This is a really long one (at least for me) but it wasn't super difficult. The elevation gain is mostly gradual and there's several cool things to see along the way. I started at 8:30 and got back to the trailhead at 2:00, so it'll take a good chunk of the day to do, but really great mountain and lake views at the end. I think Sky Pond, Mills, Haiyaha, and Emerald lakes have a better view at the end for less effort, but I'm glad I did this one; it was fun.

hiking
9 months ago

9 months ago

10 months ago

10 months ago

SO BEAUTIFUL, the trail is very long and ALL up hill on the way to the lake but once you're there, it's worth it. The lake is surrounded by big mountains and its not crowded due to its difficulty to reach. Good place for lunch. The walk there was very scenic, lots of pines and then sections with different things to see and flowers. You cross 2 amazing waterfalls also. Way back is easy, all down hill

hiking
10 months ago

This hike is NOT hard! And boring? What?! From the trailhead, there's Coleman Falls, Calypso Cascades, and Ouzel Falls. There is a break here until Thunder Lake is reached, but along the way are fascinating things if you stop to look. Through the trees, peaks pop into view. The St. Vrain is your constant companion, dipping under bridges and gurgling alongside. Meadows break out where deer and moose wander. Interesting boulders form instant shelter from rain. Never a dull moment. It wasn't very crowded after Ouzel Falls. Take the side trail to the top of Ouzel Falls. It's well worth it. All six of us agreed this one is easy with moderate on occasion. Fantastic, but long, hike!

hiking
10 months ago

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

hiking
Monday, September 08, 2014

I have done this trail as a day hike and backpacking. I love it as a day hike. It's a pretty easy overnight backpacking trip--exceptional for outta town friends who may not be acclimated to the altitude. The forests are beautiful the last 2 or so miles towards Thunder Lake. Typically a lot of traffic. I enjoyed it.

hiking
Monday, September 01, 2014

This was my third time to Wild Basin- one failed attempt at Sandbeach Lake due to snow, and one failed trip to Ouzel Lake due to the bridge being out since May, 2013 (we just went to Ouzel Falls instead).


Thunder Lake itself is a rewarding destination, framed by Tanima Peak and Boulder-Grand Pass (which does offer dramatic views, as another reviewer said!). The backdrop of the mountain is so close and abrupt that it kind of surprised me! Pictures do not do it justice. Wildflowers dotted the landscape all the way to the west side of the lake, along the trail. While I am so happy to have hiked here, the reason for the three stars is that it was... kind of boring to get to.


The St. Vrain creek was so enjoyable to walk next to, and the valley was pretty, but you are mostly in the trees, especially once you get to the primitive campsite spur trail. However, besides the length, I didn't find the trail to Thunder Lake to be too strenuous. Yes, there were some switchbacks, but not many, and there were many flat parts of the trail for resting.

Again, I did very much enjoy this trail, and do not at all regret hiking it, but compared to other trails I have hiked, I gave it three stars. I would like to come back to this area in a few weeks when the aspen turn yellow.

hiking
Sunday, August 12, 2012

It's about 6.8 miles one way, about 2100' in elevation gain, with most of the gain in the second half of the hike. Difficult hike with a full pack (or without a pack), but plenty of points of interest along the way to use as rest stops.
The first half or so is on the Ouzel Lake trail, with the St Vrain river rushing next to the trail. Calypso Cascades runs underneath one of the many bridges on the trail. Ouzel Falls is a very short side hike off the main trail. The second half of the hike is all uphill on a very rocky trail.
Lake is tucked up against a mountain, making for dramatic views. The cascading river feeding the lake is on the far side.
Backcountry camp sites are about 200 yards above the lake, and require a permit and bear resistant container.