Trail Snapshot: Odessa Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park
- Hike Distance: 9.8 miles Round Trip (from Fern Lake TH)
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Duration: Approx 5-6hr Round Trip
- Trail Type: Out and Back
- Starting Elevation: 8155′
- Elevation Gain: +1865′
- Seasons: Spring through Fall
- Dogs: Dogs Prohibited in RMNP
- Hike Trail Map: Click for a Map of Odessa Lake 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:catch and release only, photography
- Fee: Park Pass Required
Parking & Trailhead Information for Odessa Lake in RMNP
The Hike: Odessa Lake in RMNP
Beginning at the Fern Lake Trailhead, the trail will follow the Big Thompson River past several sites (see the list and waypoints below) including three cascade waterfalls before arriving at Fern Lake at 3.9 miles. Fern Lake sits at approximately 9500′ elevation. The next segment up to Odessa Lake climbs another approximate 500′ in elevation over the course of one mile.
Fern Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park
At Odessa a spur trail takes hikers along the secluded western shore of the lake, something you can’t miss if you’ve hiked this far. The spur is marked by a trail junction sign, and leads over a footbridge to cross Fern Creek, then through a short, narrow gorge before opening out to Odessa Lake.
Return and Alternate Route Options
Hikers have a couple options for their return route. They can turn around and hike back the way they came, or they can hike the 4.1 miles to the Bear Lake Trailhead where a shuttle system can transport them back to the Fern Lake bus stop. If you are considering this option, be sure to check the shuttle times and details. At the time of this writing, a shuttle transfer at the park-n-ride will be necessary to get back to the Fern Lake bus stop.
This route down into Bear Lake travels past Lake Helene and Two Rivers Lake. After approximately 3 miles, the trail arrives at a trail junction where signs indicate the final .9 mile trail segment down to Bear Lake and Trailhead.
This 4.1 mile route from Odessa to Bear Lake can be traveled in reverse as an alternate and very scenic option for hiking up to Odessa Lake from the Bear Lake Trailhead.
Sights & Waypoints Along the Fern Lake Trail:
Tips & Resources for Hiking to Odessa 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.
- 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.
- Bear Country: There is a decent population of Black Bears near Spruce, Fern, and Odessa Lakes. Be bear aware and be sure to dispose of food and waste properly.
- Packing List: Always pack the 10 Essentials. Download our Hiking Guide to get list and dayhiking packing checklist.
- Trail Map for Bear Lake Corridor: Trail Map Link
- Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
- Photo: We would like to express our gratitude to Wayne Boland for sharing such an amazing photograph of this hike to Odessa Lake in RMNP.
- After the Hike: Baba’s Burgers & Gyros
Map & Driving Directions
Click for Driving Directions