Trail Snapshot: The Pool in Rocky Mountain National Park
- Hike Distance: 3.4 miles Round Trip (from Fern Lake TH)
- Difficulty: Easy
- Duration: Approx 2 hr Round Trip
- Trail Type: Out and Back
- Starting Elevation: 8155′
- Elevation Gain: +245′
- Seasons: Spring through Fall
- Dogs: Dogs Prohibited in RMNP
- Hike Trail Map: Click for a Map of The Pool 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, wildlife: Abert’s squirrel, elk, deer, moose, duck, beaver, chipmunk, bear
- Activities: Picnicking, hiking trails, snowshoeing, fishing
- Fee: Park Pass Required
Parking & Trailhead Information for The Pool in RMNP
The Hike: The Pool in RMNP
The hike to The Pool, and other destinations along this initial stretch of the Fern Creek trail–such as Arch Rocks and Windy Gulch Cascades–follows the Big Thompson River as it courses through a rocky, but verdant, valley. There are great places to stop to fish along the banks of the Big Thompson for trout.
At approx 1.5 mile, you’ll encounter a huge rock, split in two segments that bridges over the trail. Arch Rock likely broke off the cliff side above and tumbled down into the valley eons ago. It’s a remarkable site.
Another .7 miles further, hikers will arrive at The Pool, an unusual set of cascades formed by the confluence of Fern Creek and the Big Thompson River. Here, the waters collide and swirl, and have carved out a deep pool of chaotic–but beautiful–waters. Don’t be fooled by the name, The Pool is not a place to swim. The current is powerful and dangerous; so, stay out of the water and be sure to exercise caution along the slick rock edges of the Pool.
At the Pool, there is a footbridge that crosses the river. It’s a great spot to stop and take in the sights.
Tips & Resources for Hiking to The Pool in Rocky Mountain National Park
- TIP: It is advisable to arrive early as parking is limited. Hikers may opt to ride a shuttle that drops you off at the trailhead.
- Bring A Picnic Lunch: The banks along 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 Charlie Stein for sharing such an amazing photograph of this hike to the Pool in Rocky Mountain National Park.
- After the Hike: Baba’s Burgers & Gyros
Map & Driving Directions
Click for Driving Directions