Rocky Mountain National Park: Fern Lake and Spruce Lake via Fern Lake Trail

Get high fast on this 9.1-mile, out-and-back to Fern and Spruce lakes, which sit in gorgeous alpine valleys beneath the Little Matterhorn and several other commanding peaks.
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Get high fast on this 9.1-mile, out-and-back to Fern and Spruce lakes, which sit in gorgeous alpine valleys beneath the Little Matterhorn and several other commanding peaks.

INFO For information on permits, current trail and camp conditions, and wilderness guidelines, go to nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/backcountry.htm

PERMIT A wilderness permit is required for all overnight camping in the backcountry. Reservations accepted ($20 administrative fee for permits during peak season). nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/backcntry_guide.htm

CONTACT Rocky Mountain National Park, (970) 586-1206; nps.gov/romo

-Mapped by Kris Wagner

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 14.7

Waypoints

FLT001

Location: 40.354515, -105.630501

Fern Lake trailhead; head W along Big Thompson River

FLT002

Location: 40.352798, -105.641174

Raptors perch on the dead trees and cliffs above

FLT003

Location: 40.350552, -105.65197

Trail squeezes between Arch Rocks; white chalk marks highlight technical bouldering routes

FLT004

Location: 40.350132, -105.653084

Primitive campsites on R (backcountry permit required)

FLT005

Location: 40.349316, -105.659615

Cross bridge over small pool; veer R, climbing away from the riverbed

FLT006

Location: 40.349251, -105.663536

Log bridge crosses river braid

FLT007

Location: 40.347698, -105.66967

Fern Falls below; trail continues up shaded switchbacks

FLT008

Location: 40.342934, -105.674065

Path passes by huge rock; Marguerite Falls softly grumbles in the woods ahead

FLT009

Location: 40.337883, -105.676147

Gorgeous views of the Little Matterhorn on the banks of Fern Lake; bear NW on trail

FLT010

Location: 40.34251, -105.686295

Spruce Lake; retrace route back to trailhead