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

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.
Publish date:

Hike Fern Lake Trail

INFO For information on permits, current trail and camp conditions, and wilderness guidelines, go to

PERMIT A wilderness permit is required for all overnight camping in the backcountry. Reservations accepted ($20 administrative fee for permits during peak season).

CONTACT Rocky Mountain National Park, (970) 586-1206;

-Mapped by Kris Wagner

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 14.7



Location: 40.354515, -105.630501

Fern Lake trailhead; head W along Big Thompson River


Location: 40.352798, -105.641174

Raptors perch on the dead trees and cliffs above


Location: 40.350552, -105.65197

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


Location: 40.350132, -105.653084

Primitive campsites on R (backcountry permit required)


Location: 40.349316, -105.659615

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


Location: 40.349251, -105.663536

Log bridge crosses river braid


Location: 40.347698, -105.66967

Fern Falls below; trail continues up shaded switchbacks


Location: 40.342934, -105.674065

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


Location: 40.337883, -105.676147

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


Location: 40.34251, -105.686295

Spruce Lake; retrace route back to trailhead

Popular Content