Rocky Mountain National Park

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.

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