Fern Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park - Day Hikes Near Denver

May 28, 2016 Comments (0) 4-6 miles, Creek or Brooks, hikes near estes park, hikes with shade, Medium, More than 90 Min, Rocky Mountain National Park, Waterfall Hikes, Waterfalls

Fern Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

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Fern Falls tumbles down through the forest casting a fine mist across the trail. It’s a perfect place to stop, cool off, and take in the sights and sounds of the falls before hiking on to Fern Lake. Explore the full Fern Falls hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more of the details and tips you need to enjoy this adventure in Rocky Mountain National Park.


Trail Snapshot: Fern Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

  • Hike Distance: 5.4 miles Round Trip (from Fern Lake TH)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Duration: Approx 3hr Round Trip
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Starting Elevation: 8155′
  • Elevation Gain: +645′
  • Seasons: Spring through Fall
  • Dogs: Dogs Prohibited in RMNP
  • Hike Trail Map: Click for a Map of Fern Falls RMNP
  • Denver Drive Time: 1 hr 40 min
  • Driving Directions to Fern Lake Trailhead: Click for Google Map
  • Driving Directions to Fern Lake Bus Stop Parking: 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, river, wildflowers, aspen trees, ponderosa pine, waterfalls, wildlife: Abert’s squirrel, elk, deer, moose, duck, bear
  • Activities: Picnicking, hiking trails, snowshoeing, fishing
  • Fee: Park Pass Required


Parking & Trailhead Information for Fern Falls in RMNP

Parking is more limited in this area of Rocky Mountain National Park, and you’ll likely have to park at the Park & Ride then take the shuttle to the Fern Lake Trailhead. You’ll find driving directions above to The Fern Lake Trailhead (closest to this hike), the Fern Lake Bus Stop Parking area (very limited parking), and for the Park & Ride lot. See the RMNP Shuttle page for dates and times of service. Avoid parking along Fern Lake road as this damages the road side and vehicles are ticketed. If you park or are dropped off at the Fern Lake Bus Station, the hike from the station to the trailhead will add and additional .8 mile, one-way, to your hike.



The Hike: Fern Falls in RMNP

The hike to Fern Falls offers several beautiful sites along the way as it follows the Big Thompson River. The first is a side-trail cascade, Windy Gulch Cascades, which can be seen to the North (right) about 1/2 mile in. At 1.5 Miles in, the trail will weave through several house-size boulders at Arch Rocks.

Just a bit further at 1.7 miles, a bridge crosses the Big Thompson River near the spot of its confluence with both Spruce and Fern Creeks. This area is know as The Pool. After crossing the bridge at The Pool, Fern Falls is another 1 mile up the trail.


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Unnamed Falls along Fern Lake Trail

Shortly after The Pool, an unnamed set of cascades can be heard and seen to the right of the trail. The remaining mile journey follows a set of switchbacks that make a steady climb through the forest to Fern Falls.


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Tips & Resources for Hiking to Fern Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

  • TIP: It is advisable to arrive early as parking is limited.
  • Trekking Poles & Traction Devices are Recommended in Spring and Winter: During this time of year, there can be patches and even longer segments of snow and ice on the trail. Because of this, we recommend Trekking Poles and/or Traction Devices for this trail.
  • Bring A Snack or Picnic Lunch: The rocks and shore near the Big Thompson River can be a great place for picnics.
  • Trail Map for Bear Lake Corridor: Trail Map Link
  • 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 John B. Kalla for sharing such an amazing photograph of this hike to Fern Falls in RMNP.
  • After the Hike: Baba’s Burgers & Gyros


Weather

Estes Park, CO
66°
sunny
26% humidity
wind: 11mph SSE
H 68 • L 37
63°
Fri
49°
Sat
43°
Sun

Map & Driving Directions


Click for Driving Directions



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