Rocky Mountain National Park: Pear Lake via Finch Lake Trail

This 12.4-mile out-and-back sweeps under a giant evergreen forest to a blossoming burn zone, then ends at an alpine lake perfect for stargazing.
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This 12.4-mile out-and-back sweeps under a giant evergreen forest to a blossoming burn zone, then ends at an alpine lake perfect for stargazing.

This picturesque alpine lake sits at the foot of 13,176-foot Copeland Mountain and a rugged cirque in Rocky Mountain National Park. Get there on a 12.4-mile out-and-back that starts just east of the large Wild Basin parking area. From the trailhead, follow Finch Lake Trail as it climbs southeast to a narrow ridgeline.

From here, the trail turns sharply west, then levels out, passing through one of the park's brightest wildflower corridors. At mile 1.4, turn right at the junction, heading west. Half a mile later, stop for views of Mt. Meeker to the northwest. At mile 2.3, continue straight at the 4-way junction, and continue climbing through a burn area, now dotted with flowers.

Near mile four, cross a series of crystalline creeks on log footbridges before skirting Finch Lake .2 mile later. Roughly six miles in, cross Pear Creek and turn right for the final stretch to its namesake lake. Follow the same route back to the trailhead.

-Mapped by Caitlin May and Kim Phillips

MAP
Rocky Mountain National Park ($12, natgeomaps.com)
Order USGS topo quads at store.usgs.gov.
Order a custom map of this route using MyTopo.com

CONDITIONS
Trail Ridge Road is closed from November to April. Check conditions for the east side of the park check Estes Park, CO (80517) Weather

PERMIT
$20 for entry to Rocky Mountain National Park; (970) 586-1242; nps.gov/romo

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK INFO
Visitor Information (970) 586-1206 (daily, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mountain Time; recorded information after hours)
Trail Ridge Road Information Recorded Message 970-586-1222 (available 24 hours a day, updated when conditions and/or road status change)
Visitor Information for the Hearing Impaired (TTY): 970-586-1319 (daily, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mountain Time)
Backcountry Office (970) 586-1242

OTHER RESOURCES
GAS
Shell‎ 860 Moraine Ave. Estes Park, CO (970) 586-7867
GEAR
Grab supplies or gear rentals (packs, bags, pads, and fishing gear) at Estes Park Mountain Shop, 2050 Big Thompson Ave., Estes Park, CO; (866) 303-6548.
GROCERIES
The Country Market National Park Village 900 Moraine Ave. Estes Park, Colorado (970) 586-2702
RESTAURANTS
Try a Mountain Mai Tai and the buffalo-and-bacon meatloaf at Peak-to-Peak American Grille, 451 South Saint Vrain Ave., Estes Park, CO; (970) 577-0577

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 20.0

Waypoints

PLT001

Location: 40.208393, -105.56097

Begin hiking uphill on the well-marked Finch Lake Trail.

PLT002

Location: 40.207, -105.547478

Trail turns sharply west, then levels out; pass through one of the park's brightest wildflower corridors.

PLT003

Location: 40.202149, -105.555718

Turn right at junction, heading west.

PLT004

Location: 40.202149, -105.565288

Break at first vista; enjoy views of Mt. Meeker and skyline of peaks.

PLT005

Location: 40.199544, -105.57042

Straight at 4-way junction, following signs for Pear Lake.

PLT006

Location: 40.19697, -105.571468

Keep climbing; pass through old burn land, now carpeted with flowers.

PLT007

Location: 40.184849, -105.586266

Cross a series of crystal-clear streams on log footbridges.

PLT008

Location: 40.184382, -105.592024

Finch Lake sits in a dishbowl basin of steep evergreen hillsides; hike past several campsites.

PLT009

Location: 40.183808, -105.594192

Continue straight; follow sign for Pear Lake.

PLT010

Location: 40.177201, -105.618889

Turn right after crossing Pear Creek to reach its namesake lake.

PLT011

Location: 40.17666, -105.623438

Good spot for stargazing at this high alpine lake, cradled by jagged mountainsides; retrace steps to trailhead.

Pear Lake

Location: 40.176758, -105.623052

Hiking into the rugged basin of Pear Lake

Pear Creek

Location: 40.177217, -105.618696

Views from Finch Lake Trail

Location: 40.177238, -105.62088

Pear Lake

Location: 40.176758, -105.622816

Western edge of Pear Lake

Location: 40.175988, -105.628588