ALL HIKERS

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
AUGUST 19, 2009, DAY HIKE

     I hiked here four years ago and saw Alberta Falls, Mills Lake, Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, and Emerald Lake.  That hike was so good that I asked fellow hiker Bob Bordasch for his recommendation for my hike this year.  He suggested this hike, so I park my car at the Park-and-Ride location and get on the free shuttle.  In no time at all, we pull up to the Bear Lake trailhead.  I have a brief discussion with the Ranger on duty and then I'm off.  The trail is quite smooth and I round Bear Lake in just a few minutes.

Bear Lake Ranger Station
8-19-2009 @ 8:45
Start of the trail
8-19-2009 @ 8:47
Bear Lake
8-19-2009 @ 8:48

     A trail sign confirms I am headed in the right direction.  I meet a couple carrying their kids in special backpacks.  I put out my thumb and ask them for a ride, but it doesn't work.  I know from reviewing my GPS topo software that the trail heads uphill for the next 2.5 miles.

Trail sign
8-19-2009 @ 8:50
A couple with backpacks
8-19-2009 @ 8:53
Uphill trail
8-19-2009 @ 8:54

     I reach another trail branch and take the fork to Odessa and Fern Lakes.  Maybe I'll do the hike to Bierstadt Lake another day.

Trail branch sign
8-19-2009 @ 9:00
Trail branch sign
8-19-2009 @ 9:00

     I was expecting to have great views of Bear Lake from above, but it is mostly obscured by the trees.  I pass the Flattop Mountain sign but continue straight ahead.  I don't think I'm up for the 3,000' climb it would take to reach the top of Flattop Mountain.

Above Bear Lake
8-19-2009 @ 9:04
Trail branch sign
8-19-2009 @ 9:19
A great distant view
8-19-2009 @ 9:27

     The mountains are so different from the Grand Canyon where I do most of my hiking, but both have their own distinct beauty.  I reach one section of the trail that crosses a vast boulder field.

More great views
8-19-2009 @ 10:03
The trail across the rock bed
8-19-2009 @ 10:05

     I pass two different ponds and the mountain views have been fantastic. Snow is still present at the top of the mountains.

A small pond
8-19-2009 @ 10:14
A wonderful mountain view
8-19-2009 @ 10:23
Another pond
8-19-2009 @ 10:24

     I have seen several purple and yellow daisies, but few other flowers until I come to an interesting variation of an Indian Paintbrush and a little later a very pretty Purple Bellflower.

Rosy Paintbrush
8-19-2009 @ 10:11
Purple Bellflower
8-19-2009 @ 10:31

     The Ranger I talked to at Bear Lake said I would probably miss seeing Lake Helene unless I was paying close attention.  She was absolutely right as the view of the lake is almost completely blocked by the thick trees.  Because I had my GPS on, I knew when to start looking for it and was barely able to see it through the trees.  My GPS shows that Two Rivers Lake is just before Lake Helene, but I never saw it, so maybe it is hidden by trees also.

Lake Helene behind the trees
8-19-2009 @ 10:35
Lake Helene behind the trees
8-19-2009 @ 10:35

     The trees thin out some as I make a right turn and head north on the trail.  The views are absolutely stunning.  I have reached the high point of the hike at approximately 10,700' and have gained about 1,400' since leaving the Bear Lake trailhead.  The trail starts a gradual descent after this.

A great view of the mountains
8-19-2009 @ 10:38
Downhill trail
8-19-2009 @ 10:39
Another mountain view
8-19-2009 @ 10:42

     In just a few minutes, I get my first view of Odessa Lake.

Odessa Lake
8-19-2009 @ 10:45
Odessa Lake
8-19-2009 @ 10:45

     Chuck and Sheri, a couple who live in Fort Collins, overtake me from behind.  They are frequent hikers here.  I mention to Sheri that I was expecting to see many more flowers.  She explains that the weather has been very funky this year and not at all conducive to flowers.  We walk together to the turnoff to Odessa Lake and take that.

Chuck and Sheri
8-19-2009 @ 10:49
Trail to Odessa Lake
8-19-2009 @ 11:15
Chuck and Sheri
8-19-2009 @ 11:16

     Odessa Lake is quite pretty and reminds me of Mills Lake I saw on my previous hike here.

Odessa Lake
8-19-2009 @ 11:19
Richard at Odessa Lake
8-19-2009 @ 11:20
Odessa Lake
8-19-2009 @ 11:23

     I say goodbye to my new friends and take the side trail back to the main trail and continue my descent.  Fern Lake is visible in about ten more minutes.  Another ten minutes and I reach the lake.  It too is extremely pretty.  There are even some guys fly-fishing on the other side of the lake.

Fern Lake
8-19-2009 @ 11:35
Fern Lake
8-19-2009 @ 11:45
Fern Lake
8-19-2009 @ 11:47
Guys fishing in the lake
8-19-2009 @ 11:47
Fern Lake
8-19-2009 @ 11:49

     I cross over a log bridge at the north end of the lake and continue along the trail.

Bridge at Fern Lake
8-19-2009 @ 11:50
End of Fern Lake
8-19-2009 @ 11:50

     I am surprised to find a cabin at the lake.  It is used by the Park Service, but no one is here right now, so I'm going to sit down on the porch and have lunch.

Fern Lake Patrol Cabin
8-19-2009 @ 11:52
Fern Lake Patrol Cabin
8-19-2009 @ 11:53
Fern Lake Patrol Cabin
8-19-2009 @ 11:53

     A small friend joins me for lunch, hoping for a handout, but I refuse to spoil him with human food.  A Steller's Jay sits in a tree nearby.

A friendly chipmunk
8-19-2009 @ 12:00
Steller's Jay
8-19-2009 @ 12:09

     After lunch, I head down the trail and in about a half-hour I come to Fern Falls.  It is quite impressive.

Fern Falls
8-19-2009 @ 12:45
Log jam below Fern Falls
8-19-2009 @ 12:45

     This is one of several log bridges I use to get past creeks.

Log bridge
8-19-2009 @ 1:02
Fern Falls
8-19-2009 @ 12:45

     Just after one o'clock, I come to the intersection of the Fern Lake Trail and Cub Lake Trail.  The creek widens here and forms a pool of water, interestingly enough called "The Pool."  It is a very pretty place and quite a few people are hanging out enjoying the scenery.  The elevation here is about 8,300' so I have lost nearly 2,400' since the high point of the hike.  The shortest route back to a shuttle pickup point would be to take the Fern Lake Trail to its trailhead, but I want to see everything in this area, so I start up the Cub Lake Trail, which is going to add about two miles to my hike. 

The Pool
8-19-2009 @ 1:09
The Pool
8-19-2009 @ 1:12
Big Thompson River
8-19-2009 @ 1:13
Another log bridge
8-19-2009 @ 1:13
Trail branch sign
8-19-2009 @ 1:13

     I find a few more nice flowers.

Rose Crown
8-19-2009 @ 12:23
Smooth Goldenrod
8-19-2009 @ 1:06

     The Ranger told me this section of the trail was uphill and she was right.  The uphill stretch goes on for about a mile until I reach a trail sign at an elevation of around 8,800'.  It sure seems like I have climbed more than 500' since leaving The Pool.

Uphill trail to Cub Lake
8-19-2009 @ 1:15
Log bridge
8-19-2009 @ 1:26
Trail sign
8-19-2009 @ 1:45

     Just down the hill is Cub Lake.  It reminds me of Nymph Lake I saw on my previous hike, but it has many more Lily Pads.  There actually is not much of the lake surface still showing due to the overgrowth.  Some people are fishing, but that would seem like a challenge to keep your hook from getting caught on a Lily Pad.

Cub Lake
8-19-2009 @ 1:46
Cub Lake
8-19-2009 @ 1:47
Cub Lake
8-19-2009 @ 1:51

     The trail leaving Cub Lake is shaded and smooth and passes a series of beaver ponds.  I was hoping to reach the trailhead by now, but it is a lot farther than I thought.

Trail away from Cub Lake
8-19-2009 @ 2:05
Beaver pond
8-19-2009 @ 2:16

     I am pleasantly surprised to find a nice variety of flowers on this section of the trail.

Wax Currant
8-19-2009 @ 2:06
Unknown flower
8-19-2009 @ 2:02
Broadleaf Arnica
8-19-2009 @ 2:08
Sticky Geranium
8-19-2009 @ 2:35
Yampa
8-19-2009 @ 2:35
New Mexico Thistle
8-19-2009 @ 2:39

     As I approach the Moraine Park area, the trail passes through a meadow/wetland area and turns to the north, so I think I'm getting close to the trailhead.

Meadow near Moraine Park
8-19-2009 @ 2:43
Meadow near Moraine Park
8-19-2009 @ 2:45

     I reach the last bridge, which goes over the Big Thompson River.  Several people are fly-fishing in the distance.  It looks like two ladies at the trailhead sign are contemplating a hike today.

The final bridge
8-19-2009 @ 2:55
Fly fishermen
8-19-2009 @ 2:55
Cub Lake trailhead
8-19-2009 @ 2:57

     I am glad to be at the end of the trail.  I go across the road and sit down at the shuttle pickup point.  My timing is perfect as the shuttle arrives in about two minutes.  I hop on and we head back to the Park-and-Ride location.

   
  Cub Lake shuttle pickup area
8-19-2009 @ 2:57
 

     This was a very pleasant hike and the views were magnificent.  The temperature was perfect and I did not have any rain.  The park's free shuttle bus system really facilitates hikes like this that end in a different place than where you started.  This is such a pretty area.  You will not be disappointed if you come here.

MAIN INDEX | BACK TO HIKING INDEX | BACK TO HIKING TRIP REPORTS

Copyright Richard M. Perry, 2004-2017.  All rights reserved. This web site, its text, and pictures may not be copied without the express written consent of Richard M. Perry.