It’s a 1.7 mile hike in to The Pool, a series of turbulent cascades and deep green-blue waters formed by the confluence of the Big Thompson River and Fern Creek. This is another popular and easy hike from the Fern Lake trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park, and a great destination along the Fern Lake Trail. Explore the full hiking trail profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more of the details you need to enjoy this adventure in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Trail Snapshot: The Pool in Rocky Mountain National Park

Parking & Trailhead Information for The Pool 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. 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: 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

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