Rocky Mountain National Park: Cub Lake Loop
This 5.9-mile loop is great for eager flatlanders who are acclimating to the thin Rocky Mountain air.
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At the center of this 5.9-mile loop is Moraine Park and the braided blues of the Big Thompson River, a world-class flyfishing river and stomping grounds for resident elk herds. Starting at the Club Lake Trailhead off of Fern Lake Road, hike clockwise and cross the river.
From here, you’ll climb roughly 800 feet (this is little elevation gain compared to other trails in the park) past a campsite to Club Lake. Pause at several outposts to grab photos of Steep Mountain and Stones Peak.
Hikers rejoin the grassy banks of the Big Thompson after 3.6 miles, then trace its banks going east past giant boulders and marshy areas. Trail ends at Fern Lake Road. To close the loop, walk the road back to the trailhead.
Hike Cub Lake Loop
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 Jeff Chow
- Distance: 9.5
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From the parking area, walk east on Fern Lake Road for 0.2 mile.
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Cub Lake Trailhead: Hike south on Cub Lake Trail. The trail winds through Moraine Park.
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Cross the Big Thompson and continue south. Views extend across a grassy meadow. Watch for marmots and grazing elk. Lucky hikers may spot coyotes roaming the area.
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Pass by the Beaver Ponds on the left as you begin the gradual climb to Cub Lake.
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Pass Cub Creek Campsite.
Location: 40.346233, -105.641052
The first glimpse of Cub Lake appears on the left. Ahead, you’ll pass unobstructed views of the lake in 0.3 mile.
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Look to the southeast for views across Cub Lake. Steep Mountain rises behind this small mountain lake (usually covered with lily pads).
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Continue straight @ 3-way junction, heading west. A moderate downhill awaits. The trail to Mill Creek Basin enters on the left.
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The forest opens, revealing incredible views of Stones Peak to the west.
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Cross a bridge and continue hiking west along the base of 10,761-foot Mount Wuh.
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Cross a small bridge. Continue descent to the Big Thompson.
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Turn right @ T-junction onto Fern Lake Trail. Next, head east and cross a wooden bridge over The Pool (a stretch of rushing river). Add a lake: To visit Fern Lake, turn left @ T-junction and follow the trail roughly 1.8 miles.
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Pass Arch Rocks Campsite.
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Trail passes a bouldering area. You may spot chalk marks where climbers have scaled the 10-foot rocks.
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Pass between towering 40-foot rocks.
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Pass more bouldering rocks before meandering along the stream through shady aspen groves.
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Walk past the Fern Lake Trailhead and follow the road 0.6 mile back to your car.
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Cub Creek Campground
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Views of Cub Lake
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Trail offers views of Stones Peak to the west.
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Big Thompson River Sign
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Arch Rocks Campsite
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