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My Favorite Hike In Rocky Mountain National Park: Bear Lake To Fern Lake Trailhead

Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park is one of my all-time favorite things to do. The scenery is some of the best on the planet, as is the wildlife viewing. From driving Trail Ridge Road to hiking the numerous trails, you will find a trail to fall in love with.

My Favorite Hike In Rocky Mountain National Park Is Bear Lake To Fern Lake

The Bear Lake Trailhead to the Fern Lake Trailhead is my favorite hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. You can easily find a trail that meets your skill level from almost every trailhead. Tip: Before you hit the trail, grab a seat and enjoy Bear Lake.


Bear Lake Rocky Mountain National Park

Start Your Hike At Bear Lake

My favorite hike in Rocky Mountain National Park is from the Bear Lake Trailhead to the Fern Lake Trailhead. To get the most out of this hike, be sure to be on the trail by 6:30 a.m., as the parking lot fills quickly. Should you opt for a later start, you can hop on one of the shuttle buses that take hikers to the Bear Lake Trailhead. Odessa lake is absolutely stunning and this hike offers fantastic hiking, views, and a variety of terrain. Once you hop on this trail at Bear Lake, your ascent towards Odessa Lake begins. Here you will hike through lots of aspen trees and shade. Shortly into your hike, you will see a sign that says Bierstadt Lake, you will want to take a left and continue towards Odessa Lake. If you are planning a hike to Bierstadt Lake, this is the route you will want to take on another day.

Veer To The Left To Head To Flat Top Mountain & Odessa Lake

Once you take this left, the sky and the mountains seem to light up. A few steps into this part of the trail, be sure to look up to your left, as you will see people hiking up to Flat Top Mountain. You will continue to climb upwards while stunning views of Longs Peak and other peaks come into sight. A few miles into this hike, things level off and chances are you will find snow. My family and I have hiked this trail in June, July, and August- and yes, each month there has been snow! As always, check with a ranger at Bear Lake before you head towards Odessa Lake, the snowfields and the trail along Odessa Gorge can have a lot of snow on it. If you are hiking with kids, your kids will love the snowfields along the way.

Here’s a glimpse as to how much snow you can find on this trail.

Sprague Lake- Another Beautiful Hike In Rocky Mountain National Park

Stop At Odessa Lake

Do not walk right on by Odessa Lake, be sure to follow the sign that says Odessa Lake. Trust me, if you have hiked all this way, you need to make the descent towards Odessa Lake. The views here are absolutely breathtaking. Depending on what part of the season you visit, the wildflowers and bluebells can also be extremely colorful and stunning. The skies usually cloud up after the noon hour, so make it a goal to be in and out by noon.

Odessa Lake Stream


Odessa Lake in itself makes this my favorite hike in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Odessa Lake

Onward to Fern Lake

After spending a little bit of time at Odessa Lake, begin your descent and continue to the Fern Lake Trailhead.

Hiking Trail Odessa to Fern My Favorite hike in Rocky Mountain National Park


You will hike through lots of shade, and find yourself walking downhill. The trail is rugged with a lot of rock.


Fern Lake favorite hike in Rocky Mountain National Park


Fern Lake and Fern Falls are two places you will want to stop for a photoshoot or just a little rest and relaxation.


Relaxing Hiking RMNP


Once you reach The Pool your hike is getting closer to ending. But hold on, you will still have some awesome views. There are two large rocks known, as Arch Rocks that you will walk around. We have been caught in rain showers in this area several times. Through this last part of your hike, the Big Thompson River flows near the trail, again, offering another fine setting for a picnic.

The Fern Lake Trailhead Is In Sight

At a whopping 9.2 miles, you will reach the Fern Lake Trailhead. If you do not have a car parked in the parking lot in this area, you will need to proceed almost another mile to catch the shuttle bus.

And yes, this last 8/10th’s of a mile always seems like the longest hike in the park! We are usually exhausted and ready to call it a day. The hike here is on a flat, gravel road. Not very scenic, but well worth it! And if you time it just right, you will not have to wait very long for the shuttle bus to pick you up. And at the end of the day, I’m happy to kick my feet back and reflect on my favorite hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. I have hiked this trail numerous times and look forward to the day that I return and hike it again.

Happy Traveling~ Sara


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Sara is a travel enthusiast that resides in North Iowa. You can find her traveling where the plane, train, ship, or car will go. Are you looking to take a road trip? Sara has solutions for you!

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