Trail Snapshot: Cub Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park
- Hike Distance: 4.6 miles Round Trip
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Duration: Approx 3 hrs Round Trip
- Trail Type: Out and Back
- Starting Elevation: 8080′
- Elevation Gain: +540′
- Seasons: Spring through Fall, Winter Snowshoeing
- Dogs: Dogs Prohibited in RMNP
- Hike Trail Map: Click for a Map of Cub Lake RMNP
- Denver Drive Time: 1 hr 40 min
- Driving Directions to Cub Lake Trailhead: Click for Google Map
- Driving Directions to Fern Lake Trailhead: Click for Google Map
- Driving Directions to Park & Ride Trailhead: Click for Google Map
- Town Nearest Hike: Estes Park, Colorado
- Beauty: Sub-alpine lakes, mountain views, meadows, river, wildlife: Abert’s squirrel, elk, deer, moose, duck, bear; yellow pond lilies and wildflowers.
- Activities: Picnicking, Hiking Trails, Snowshoeing
- Fee: Park Pass Required
Parking & Trailhead Information for Cub Lake
The Cub Lake Trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park has a very small parking area where only 7 to 8 vehicles can park. Chances are, if you don’t arrive early in the morning, you’ll need to park just .3 mile further down the road at the Fern Lake Bus Stop parking area. If both lots are full, then your best bet is to park in the RMNP Park & Ride lot and use the shuttle service to get to the Cub Lake Trailhead. Please do not park alongside the road. This causes significant erosion and damage to roadside–and you might get a ticket.
The Hike to Cub Lake in RMNP
One of the things we love about Rocky Mountain National Park is the diversity of landscapes. The Cub Lake trail is a great example. Over the course of the 2.3 mile journey to the lake, you’ll encounter plenty of sights that you will want to take in. The trail begins in the wetland meadows of Moraine Park, replete with willows and other wetland shrubs. It’s a perfect habitat for a variety of birds, including western tanagers and warblers.
Soon, the trail goes from easy to quite demanding, working its way up a series of switchbacks before reaching Cub Lake. Two things will catch your eye at Cub Lake. First is the strange halo formation made by the yellow pond lilies that grow around the inside of the lake. The middle of the lake, open to reflect the sky, looks like a big, blue eye staring into the heavens. The second thing you may notice is a large stand of dead trees from a forest fire in the 1970s.
Tips & Resources for Hiking to Cub Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park
- TIP: It is advisable to arrive early as parking is limited. One may opt to ride a shuttle that drops you off at the trailhead.
- Trail Map: Trail Map for Cub Lake in RMNP
- Packing List: Always pack the 10 Essentials. Download our Hiking Guide to get list and dayhiking packing checklist.
- Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
- Photo: We would like to express our gratitude to Jeff Livingston for sharing such an amazing photograph of this hike to Cub Lake in RMNP.
- After the Hike: Baba’s Burgers & Gyros
Map & Driving Directions
Click for Driving Directions