Hike Colorado!

Lake Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park

Parika Lake
Parika Lake
5 miles
Elev. Gain 2496 ft
moderate
Trailhead

Parika Lake lies outside of the park boundary and is one of the classic tundra lake hikes.

Bowen Lake
Bowen Lake
7 miles
Elev. Gain 2160 ft
difficult
Trailhead

A long, gradual climb through thick forest to the lake.

Lake of the Clouds
6.9 miles
Elev. Gain 2440 ft
difficult
Trailhead

This trail offers a barren and rocky landscape, and the last section is difficult to access. 2 backcountry sites.

Lake Verna
Lake Verna
13.8 miles
Elev. Gain 1809 ft
moderate
Trailhead

The East Inlet Trail leads to Lone Pine Lake and subalpine forest before reaching the soggy ground around Lake Verna. 2 backcountry sites.

Lone Pine Lake
Lone Pine Lake
11 miles
Elev. Gain 1494 ft
moderate
Trailhead

Lone Pine Lake is past East Inlet meadows and Adams Falls on the East Inlet trail. The lake contains a rock island that once housed a single lodgepole pine in a crack. 3 backcountry sites near the lake.

Haynach Lakes
8.3 miles
Elev. Gain 2286 ft
difficult
Trailhead

Long, beautiful hike on a trail mostly used by backpackers. Llamas allowed, but no other stock. 3 backcountry sites.

Lake Nanita
Lake Nanita
11 miles
Elev. Gain 2240 ft
difficult
Trailhead

Spur trail off the CDT to a high mountain lake at the base of Andrews Peak.

Lake Nokoni
Lake Nokoni
9.9 miles
Elev. Gain 2240 ft
difficult
Trailhead

Lake Nokoni is a glacial tarn surrounded by beautiful landscape, including great wildflowers.

Timber Lake
Timber Lake
4.8 miles
Elev. Gain 2060 ft
moderate
Trailhead

The hike to Timber Lake travels through dense forest and crosses several creeks, and uses the flank of Jackstraw Mountain. The rugged terrain of the lake hides the summit of Mount Ida. 5 backcountry sites along the Timber Lake trail.

Lawn Lake Trail
Lawn Lake Trail
6.2 miles
Elev. Gain 2447 ft
moderate
Trailhead
Horse Trail

The Lawn Lake trail climbs to a pair of beautiful alpine lakes (Lawn Lake and Crystal Lake) along the course of the Roaring River. The river shows the massive damaged caused by a dam failure in 1982 that claimed the lives of three campers. A strenuous snowshoe in the winter. 5 backcountry sites along the trail before the Lake.

Ypsilon Lake
Ypsilon Lake
4.5 miles
Elev. Gain 2180 ft
moderate
Trailhead
Horse Trail

This trail offers a visit to Chipmunk Lake, well-composed scenes of Longs Peak, pine forests carpeted with grouseberry and bearberry, and dramatic views of the canyon gouged out by rampaging water that broke loose from Lawn Lake Dam in 1982. You'll see Ypsilon Mountain's extraordinary southeast face with its Y shaped gash rising sharply from the shoreline.   More on Ypsilon Lake trail...

Crystal Lake
Crystal Lake
7.7 miles
Elev. Gain 2972 ft
difficult
Trailhead

A continuation of the Lawn Lake trail to one of the deepest lakes in the park. Take the left fork after leaving Lawn Lake. Fairchild Mountain is the backdrop.

Gem Lake
Gem Lake
1.8 miles
Elev. Gain 910 ft
easy
Trailhead
Horse Trail

The shallow waters of Gem Lake are cradled high among the rounded granite domes of Lumpy Ridge. Untouched by glaciation, this outcrop of 1.8 billion-year-old granite has been sculpted by wind and chemical erosion into a backbone-like ridge. Pillars, potholes, and balanced rocks appear midway along the trail. Spectacular views of the Estes Valley and Continental Divide. Gem Lake's elevation is 8,800 feet.  More on Gem Lake trail...

Bear Lake Loop
Bear Lake Loop
0.6 miles
Elev. Gain 20 ft

An easy walk around a high-mountain lake with peak views. Tucked into the spruce/fir forest at the base of Hallett Peak and Flattop Mountain, this 0.6-mile loop is one of Rocky's most famous trails. Unlike other trails listed as accessible by the Park, Bear Lake is not entirely flat and is a more challenging route. As a wedding site it accommodates 2-35 people.  More on the Bear Lake trail...

Bierstadt Lake
Bierstadt Lake
1.6 miles
Elev. Gain 255 ft

From Bear Lake, a level walk through forest, with Continental Divide views. More climb if you start from the Bierstadt Lake trailhead. Iconic trail to see fall Aspen gold.  Trail from the Glacier Basin Park and Ride lot also joins the Bierstadt Lake trail.  More on Bierstadt Lake trail...

Dream Lake
Dream Lake
1.1 miles
Elev. Gain 425 ft

In summer this is a great easy family hike. In the winter this is a good snowshoe tour to one of the most photographed lakes in the park.   You'll pass Nymph Lake on the way.  More on Dream Lake trail...

Emerald Lake
Emerald Lake
1.8 miles
Elev. Gain 685 ft

The trail to Emerald Lake passes Nymph Lake and the north shore of Dream Lake. Below the saddle between Hallett Peak and Flattop Mountain at 10,080 ft, the mountains rise steeply from the shore. Most popular destination in Bear Lake area. Start early!  More on Emerald Lake trail...

Lake Haiyaha
Lake Haiyaha
2.1 miles
Elev. Gain 745 ft
easy
Trailhead
Fishing Access

Haiyaha (Indian word for "big rocks") surround this lake's shore along with ancient twisted and picturesque pine trees in rock crevices. Climb over the rocks, explore the shoreline and nearby pools.  More on Lake Haiyaha trail...

Nymph Lake
Nymph Lake
0.5 miles
Elev. Gain 225 ft

A beautiful yellow lily named Nymphaea polysepala makes its home on the deep blue waters of Nymph Lake. Breathtaking views of Longs Peak and Hallett Peak.  Continue on - it's not much further to beautiful Dream Lake!  More on Nymph Lake trail...

Lake Helene
Lake Helene
2.9 miles
Elev. Gain 1215 ft
moderate
Trailhead
Fishing Access
Horse Trail

Take a short side trip from Odessa Lake on a fishermen's path to Lake Helene at the head of Odessa Gorge, east of Notchtop Mountain.  More on Lake Helene trail...

Two Rivers Lake
Two Rivers Lake
2.6 miles
Elev. Gain 1125 ft
moderate
Trailhead

Notchtop Mountain provides the backdrop to views in the area. Two Rivers Lake is found along the hike to Odessa Lake from Bear Lake. 1 backcountry site.

Cub Lake
Cub Lake
2.3 miles
Elev. Gain 540 ft

A favorite hike offering river scenery, flowery meadows, stands of pine and aspen, and a serenely beautiful lake backed by mountains. Joins the Fern Lake trail at The Pool. 1 backcountry site.  More on Cub Lake trail...

Fern Lake
Fern Lake
3.8 miles
Elev. Gain 1375 ft

Pass the famous Arch Rock formations, The Pool, and the cascading water of Fern Falls. A gorgeous lake with views of the Continental Divide (Little Matterhorn and Notchtop Mountain). It is a heavily used area. 2 backcountry sites near the Lake, and 2 closer to the trailhead. More on Fern Lake trail...

Odessa Lake
Odessa Lake
4.1 miles
Elev. Gain 1215 ft
moderate
Trailhead

There are two approaches to Odessa Lake, another magnificent feature of the Bear Lake region: a 4.1 mile route along the Flattop trail from Bear Lake, and a 4.5 mile route from the Fern Lake trailhead. The longer route is also steeper, but you get the pleasure of seeing Fern Creek, The Pool, Fern Falls, and Fern Lake itself along the way. 1 backcountry site.  More on Odessa Lake trail...

Jewel Lake
Jewel Lake
3 miles
Elev. Gain 727 ft
easy
Trailhead
Fishing Access

Trail takes you past Alberta Falls and follows Glacier Creek. Small lake with a marshy grass shore, divided from Mills Lake by a small channel & beaver dams.  More on Jewel Lake trail...

Mills Lake
Mills Lake
2.5 miles
Elev. Gain 700 ft

A popular hike, this trail offers dramatic views of Glacier Gorge from the lake shore.  More on Mills Lake trail...

The Loch
The Loch
2.7 miles
Elev. Gain 940 ft
easy
Trailhead

The hike to the Loch is filled with mountain scenes as you pass Alberta Falls and the Glacier Knobs, then travels alongside and above Icy Brook. It's one of the most popular destinations in the park and well worth spending the day and exploring, while soaking in the majesty and serenity.  More on The Loch trail...

Black Lake
Black Lake
4.7 miles
Elev. Gain 1390 ft

A 2.2 mile continuation of the trail to Mill Lake, Black lake is surrounded by tall cliffs and dramatic peaks. Hike around the lake for lunch. At 10,260 ft snow lasts through June. 1 backcountry site.  More on Black Lake trail...

Blue Lake
Blue Lake
11 miles
Elev. Gain 1880 ft
moderate
Trailhead

Three quarters of a mile past Black Lake, following the inlet stream. Scramble over rock slabs - no trail. Above treeline.

Lake of Glass
Lake of Glass
4.2 miles
Elev. Gain 1580 ft
moderate
Trailhead

Perched above Timberline Falls, the route to the Lake is one of the park's better kept secrets - unmarked, inconspicuous, and at first glance, unlikely. To the right of the falls and close by, scramble up ledges to this cirque lake. Be ready for wind.  More on Lake of Glass trail...

Loch Vale
Loch Vale
2.7 miles
Elev. Gain 940 ft
moderate
Trailhead
Fishing Access

The hike to The Loch through Loch Vale is filled with mountain scenes as you pass Alberta Falls - wildflowers, peaks, falls, glaciers, and pines.  More on Loch Vale trail...

Sky Pond
Sky Pond
4.7 miles
Elev. Gain 1660 ft
moderate
Trailhead

Hike past Alberta Falls and The Loch to reach a cascading fall over a black granite wall - Timberline Falls. The falls are fed from the runoff of the Lake of Glass. Another .4 miles away is Sky Pond with great views of Taylor Glacier and Taylor Peak, and Powell Peak.  More on Sky Pond trail...

Sprague Lake
Sprague Lake
1 miles
Elev. Gain 10 ft
easy
Trailhead
Fishing Access

A popular stop on a drive up Bear Lake Road with a picnic area and beautiful views of the Continental Divide.  There is an easy and accessible half-mile-long trail around the lake with a fishing pier. An accessible backcountry camping site is located in the area. A good place for a short winter walk, or to try those crosscountry skis on a frozen lake. Good views of the Continental Divide. More on Sprague Lake trail...

Spruce Lake
Spruce Lake
4.6 miles
Elev. Gain 1515 ft
moderate
Trailhead

Hike past the Arch Rock formations, The Pool, and the cascading water of Fern Falls to reach the spur trail to Spruce Lake. The stroll to the marshy shores of Spruce Lake leads through boulders left by glaciers. 1 backcountry site.

Finch Lake
Finch Lake
4.5 miles
Elev. Gain 1442 ft
moderate
Trailhead
Horse Trail

Great fall color hike through a variety of landscapes, including regrowth from a 1978 burn. Tranquil lake with Copeland Mountain as a backdrop. 2 backcountry sites.  More on Finch Lake trail...

Pear Lake
Pear Lake
6.5 miles
Elev. Gain 2112 ft
difficult
Trailhead
Horse Trail

Copeland Mountain rises dramatically from the edge of the lake. 2 backcountry sites.  More on Pear Lake trail...

Lily Lake
Lily Lake
1 miles
Elev. Gain 0 ft
easy
Trailhead
Fishing Access

Lily Lake offers splendid views of Longs Peak and Mount Meeker amid rocky outcrops. A level packed gravel trail encircles the lake featuring educational exhibits. Accessible trail and fishing pier. Strollers permitted. Enos Mills, the "father of Rocky Mountain National Park," enjoyed walking to Lily Lake from his nearby cabin. Look for wildflowers in the spring and early summer. In the winter the trail around the lake is often suitable for walking in boots, or as a short snowshoe or ski.

Chasm Lake
Chasm Lake
4.2 miles
Elev. Gain 2360 ft

Pass through 3 climate zones on the way to this magnificent alpine lake at the base of the east face of Longs Peak (the Diamond) - one of the most popular hikes in the park.

Sandbeach Lake
Sandbeach Lake
4.2 miles
Elev. Gain 1971 ft
moderate
Trailhead
Horse Trail

From Copeland Lake, this trail is a steep hike through Copeland Moraine, requiring significant effort due to the steepness of the trail. The lake itself provides a pretty end to the trail. 6 backcountry sites.

Bluebird Lake
Bluebird Lake
6 miles
Elev. Gain 2478 ft

Former reservoir, excellent wildflower displays. 1 backcountry site.  Horses not permitted on the last 1/2 mile of the trail to the lake.

Ouzel Lake
Ouzel Lake
4.9 miles
Elev. Gain 1510 ft
moderate
Trailhead
Horse Trail

Lightning strike started a large fire in 1978, unique landscape 1 backcountry site.

Thunder Lake
Thunder Lake
6.8 miles
Elev. Gain 2074 ft
moderate
Trailhead
Horse Trail

Great base area for exploring stunning scenery. 3 backcountry sites.

Lion Lake No. 1
Lion Lake No. 1
7 miles
Elev. Gain 2565 ft
difficult
Trailhead

Awesome views of high peaks, remote, well worth the long hike

Lion Lake No. 2
Lion Lake No. 2
7.5 miles
Elev. Gain 3021 ft
difficult
Trailhead

Snowbanks last late into the summer

Snowbank Lake
Snowbank Lake
8 miles
Elev. Gain 3021 ft
difficult
Trailhead

No established trail, best views from tall rock outcrops nearby

Allenspark Trailhead — Region 5 - South side, known for waterfalls & backcountry

Southern-most trailhead along Hwy 7.  Joins Finch Lake trails.  Parking area is too small for horse trailers - park on the east side of the road.

Horse Trails
Alpine Visitor Center Trailhead — Region 2 - Alpine, known for spectacular vistas

Near the top of Trail Ridge Road (Hwy 34) at the Alpine Visitor Center. Trailheads are located on the East side of Trail Ridge Road, across from the Visitor Center, and from the parking lot.

Ranger Station
Bear Lake Trailhead — Region 4 - Heart of the Park, known for easy access & great views

At the end of Bear Lake Road, 9.5 miles from the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center.  During summer Bear Lake Road Construction, Shuttle Bus is highly recommended.  Although the parking lot at the trailhead is large, it fills up early in the day during summer.  Elevation: 9.475 ft.

Ranger Station
Picnic Area
Shuttle Bus Stop
Fishing Access
Bierstadt Lake — Region 4 - Heart of the Park, known for easy access & great views

Along Bear Lake Road after Sprague Lake, across from the Storm Pass trailhead.

Shuttle Bus Stop
Bowen/Baker Trailhead — Region 1 - West Side, known for moose & big meadows

About 6.5 miles north(east) of the Grand Lake entrance on Highway 34.

Picnic Area
Fishing Access
Chapin Pass Trailhead — Region 2 - Alpine, known for spectacular vistas

Near the top of Old Fall River Road. About 6.5 miles from Endovalley on the right side (open only in summer, limited parking).  Access to 2 backcountry sites.

Colorado River Trailhead — Region 1 - West Side, known for moose & big meadows

On the west side of Trail Ridge Road across from the Timber Lake Trailhead, about 9.6 mi north (east) of Grand Lake Entrance Station.  Hwy 34 closes here in winter.  Access to 9 backcountry sites.

Picnic Area
Fishing Access
Horse Trails
Cow Creek Trailhead — Region 3 - North side, known for wilderness escape

Cow Creek trailhead is near the historic McGraw Ranch, at the end of McGraw Ranch Road, which can be found north of Estes Park off Devils Gulch Road (Limited parking). R off US34 on MacGregor Ave. 3.5 mi. then L on McGraw Ranch Rd. 2.5 mi. to end. Access to 12 backcountry sites along the northern boundary of the Park, and 2 closer in along the Cow Creek trail.

Coyote Valley — Region 1 - West Side, known for moose & big meadows

South of Bowen/Baker and north of Onahu Creek trailheads on Hwy 34, about 5.6 mi. north(east) of the Grand Lake Entrance Station.

Cub Lake Trailhead — Region 4 - Heart of the Park, known for easy access & great views

From Bear Lake Road, turn R toward Moraine Park Campground; after .7 mi. turn L and follow signs to Cub Lake Trailhead .  Access to 1 backcountry site.

Shuttle Bus Stop
Horse Trails
Deer Ridge Trailhead — Region 3 - North side, known for wilderness escape

From Park Headquarters at Beaver Meadows, drive 4.5 miles on Highway 36 to roadside parking on the R at the Deer Ridge Trailhead, just before Junction with Highway 34. 

East Inlet Trailhead — Region 1 - West Side, known for moose & big meadows

Located at the east end of Grand Lake.  From Highway 34, head east on 278 towards Grand Lake for .3 mile, bearing left at all forks until you reach the East Inlet trailhead parking lot.  Access to 8 backcountry sites.

Fishing Access
Horse Trails
East Portal Trailhead — Region 4 - Heart of the Park, known for easy access & great views

Follow Highway 66 past the YMCA about 1 mi. to its end at East Portal.  Park in the small day use parking area about 100 yds before the road ends.  Access to 3 backcountry sites.  Easy turn-around for horse trailers, with space for 1-2 trailers.

Horse Trails
East Shore Trailhead — Region 1 - West Side, known for moose & big meadows

West of Grand Lake, L onto CO 66. After 1 mi., L into the campground.  Drive toward the lake and turn right into the next campground and park at the Shadow Mountain Dam. 

Picnic Area
Fishing Access
Horse Trails
Fern Lake Tailhead — Region 4 - Heart of the Park, known for easy access & great views

From Bear Lake Road, turn right toward Moraine Park Campground, then left after .7 mi. to the end of the road at Fern Lake parking.  Access to 6 backcountry sites.

Fishing Access
Finch Lake Trailhead — Region 5 - South side, known for waterfalls & backcountry

About 1,000 feet east of the bridge that crosses North St. Vrain Creek to Wild Basin Ranger Station. Wild Basin is about 12.5 miles south of Estes Park on Highway 7.  Access to 5 backcountry sites.

Glacier Gorge Trailhead — Region 4 - Heart of the Park, known for easy access & great views

Less than 1 mile before Bear Lake along Bear Lake Road. SMALL parking lot. Shuttle bus is highly recommended in summer.  Access to 2 backcountry sites.

Shuttle Bus Stop
Fishing Access
Green Mountain Trailhead — Region 1 - West Side, known for moose & big meadows

Located on the west side of the park on US 34, 2.8 mi. north (east) of the Grand Lake Entrance Station.  Northern access to the Continental Divide trail loop through the Park,

Horse Trails
Hollowell Park Trailhead — Region 1 - West Side, known for moose & big meadows

R at Hollowell Park turn-off, about 3.5 miles south on Bear Lake Road.  Shuttle Bus recommended. Access to 2 backcountry sites.  Parking is challenging for horse trailers.

Picnic Area
Shuttle Bus Stop
Horse Trails
Kawuneeche Trailhead — Region 1 - West Side, known for moose & big meadows

Located on the west side of the park on US 34,  Kawuneeche Visitor Center.

Ranger Station
Picnic Area
Lake Estes Trailhead — Region 3 - in Estes Park

Join the Lake Estes trail and the Downtown Riverwalk trail from behind the Visitor Center on Big Thompson Avenue.

Shuttle Bus Stop
Lawn Lake Trailhead — Region 3 - North side, known for wilderness escape

About .5 mile north of Highway 34 past the Endovalley picnic area along Old Fall River Road.  Access to 5 backcountry sites.

Lily Lake Trailhead — Region 5 - South side, known for waterfalls & backcountry

Six miles south of the town of Estes Park on Highway 7, past Mary's Lake.

Ranger Station
Picnic Area
Fishing Access
Longs Peak Trailhead — Region 5 - South side, known for waterfalls & backcountry

At Longs Peak Ranger Station, 7.5 miles south of Estes Park on Highway 7.  Access to 4 backcountry sites.

Ranger Station
Lumpy Ridge Trailhead — Region 3 - North side, known for wilderness escape

Drive north from downtown Estes Park on MacGregor Avenue. Cross Hwy. 34 bypass and continue on  MacGregor Avenue  past MacGregor Ranch to the trailhead parking lot on the left.  Access to 4 backcountry sites along Black Canyon trail.  Designated horse trailer parking spot for 2 trailers with easy pull-around. 

Horse Trails
Milner Pass Trailhead — Region 2 - Alpine, known for spectacular vistas

On Trail Ridge Road at the Continental Divide west of the Alpine Visitor Center and 16 mi. east of the Grand Lake Entrance Station.

North Inlet Trailhead — Region 1 - West Side, known for moose & big meadows

Drive east from Highway 34 on 278 towards Grand Lake, bearing left at the forks until you reach the parking lot. Trailhead at E. end of parking lot. Tonahutu accesses 4 backcountry sites before the Green Mountain trail; North Inlet and southern part of Continental Divide trail loop through the Park accesses 13 backcountry sites.

Horse Trails
Onahu Trailhead — Region 1 - West Side, known for moose & big meadows

Located on the west side of the park on US 34, .5 mile north(east) of the Green Mountain trailhead. Access to 3 backcountry sites.

Rock Cut Trailhead — Region 2 - Alpine, known for spectacular vistas

At the Continental Divide coming up Trail Ridge Road from Estes Park, before the Alpine Visitor Center.

Sandbeach — Region 5 - South side, known for waterfalls & backcountry

12.5 mi. south of Estes Park on Highway 7, R at Wild Basin Road.  Immediately to the R of the Ranger Station Kiosk.  Access to 5 backcountry sites.

Sprague Lake Trailhead — Region 4 - Heart of the Park, known for easy access & great views

On the south side of Bear Lake Road.  Shuttle Bus recommended.

Picnic Area
Shuttle Bus Stop
Fishing Access
Storm Pass Trailhead — Region 4 - Heart of the Park, known for easy access & great views

After Sprague Lake, on the south side of Bear Lake Road across from Bierstadt Lake trailhead.  Access to 2 backcountry sites along the Boulder Brook trail.

Timber Lake Trailhead — Region 1 - West Side, known for moose & big meadows

Grand Lake (west side) of the Park.  Trailhead is located on the east side of Hwy 34 across from the Colorado River trailhead.  Access to 4 backcountry sites.

Picnic Area
Horse Trails
Tonahutu Trailhead — Region 1 - West Side, known for moose & big meadows

Same as North Inlet Trailhead. 

Twin Sisters Trailhead — Region 5 - South side, known for waterfalls & backcountry

Across Highway 7 from Lily Lake.

Upper Beaver Meadows Trailhead — Region 4 - Heart of the Park, known for easy access & great views

From the Beaver Meadows entrance, pass Bear Lake Road and continue along Hwy 36 until just before the junction with Hwy 34. Left onto dirt road.  Go about 2 mi. to road end.

Horse Trails
Ute Crossing Trailhead — Region 2 - Alpine, known for spectacular vistas

At Fall River Pass along the east side of Trail Ridge Road about 2 mi. below Rock Cut. Limited parking.  Access to 1 backcountry site.

Wild Basin Trailhead — Region 5 - South side, known for waterfalls & backcountry

12.5 mi. south of Estes Park on Highway 7, right at Wild Basin Road.  Take right fork to Entrance station, then 3 mi. to Ranger Station.  Access to 6 backcountry sites.  2 Horse Trailer parking spaces.

Ranger Station
Horse Trails

Castle Mountain

McGregor Mountain Lodge

Boulder Brook