Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Hiking in Moriane Park at Rocky Mountain National Park

January 4, 2010, 8:54 am

Sunlight exploded in the sky last fall, splashing it with golds and oranges. The brilliant color came down shining through the trees as if through an old fashion lace doily. Fall is my favorite season to hike Rocky Mountain National Park`s Moraine Park area.

Fall is fine, but if you really want to push yourself, try snowshoeing through Moraine Park to Fern Lake. Moraine`s 245 campsites make up RMNP`s largest campground and it is open all year long. The hiking trails originating from Moraine Park are some of the best. Starting at a trailhead elevation of 8,155 feet, hikers ascend 1,375 feet to Fern Lake on a 3.8-mile trail.

After starting, the first encounter is The Pool at about 1.7 miles from the trailhead. At this point you will have climbed an easy 245 feet. It might have seemed like a pretty average trail so far, but when you get to The Pool it will delight and surprise you. A large pool of water (now mostly frozen) surrounded by steep rock walls, The Pool is a part of the Big Thompson River.

Continue on across a large wooden bridge where the trail divides. Take the right branch, going straight to Fern Falls, rather than veering left to Cub Lake. The route to the falls circles around south facing slopes and climbs along the side of a gully, entering woodlands.

In summer and autumn, you can hear the roaring falls before you see the tumbling, icy water. By now you will have walked about 2½ miles. Enjoy steep Fern Falls amid a jumble of downed timber. A refreshing mist welcomes you in the summer; not so this time of year. Next it`s on to Fern Lake, where the trail gets a bit steeper, offering a few switchbacks for a mile or so. Once there, rest and return the way you came.