Sunday Hikes: Fern Lake Trail

The Fern Lake Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park is a 7.6 mile round trip hike with 1400 feet in elevation gain and takes you to Fern Lake at 9,560 feet above sea level. We began our hike right after eating our tuna lunch in the parking lot. 

The trail starts off fairly flat following alongside the Big Thompson River. The trees in this area vary from small new growth aspen to large and lodgepole and ponderosa pine trees. There are also lots of wild flowers in this area. The trail is fairly busy in this part as it leads up to the convergence of Fern Creek and the Big Thompson River in an area known as The Pool. 

This area is a popular spot to hike to with the family to eat a picnic. The trail begins to climb after passing The Pool and at 2.6 miles into the trail you will reach Fern Falls! Fern Falls is a really pretty 60 foot waterfall that makes the long stretch of uphill you just did feel very worth it! 

We stopped here for a minute to take pictures, have a snack, and refill our water bottles. After the waterfall you have another 650 feet of elevation to climb in the next mile to the lake! Just before you reach Fern Lake there is a side trail that takes you .9 miles to Spruce Lake and passes some backcountry campsites. We didn’t hike to Spruce Lake but I hear it’s pretty dope so now I gotta go back to hike to it! Anyways we hike the last little bit up to Fern Lake and followed the trail around the lake and looked for the perfect place to make our coffee and take pictures. We found a nice spot on the south side of the lake but then some loud fisherman with no understanding of personal space set up right next to us so we found a better spot a little further down. Fern Lake is beautiful with great views of four Rocky Mountains that tower over the lake. The lake is very clear and we could see a couple different fish swimming around close to us (we warned them about the fishermen). 

We spent a good bit of time relaxing at Fern Lake and making coffee and eating peanut butter. We probably spent an hour here and were only prompted to leave when some old guy came out of nowhere and tried to catch our fish friends. The hike back down went by quickly and we were back at The Pool and then the trailhead in no time. This hike is amazing and gives you a lot of nature to admire! If you’re in Rocky Mountain National Park I would definitely recommend this hike to anybody! 

Me and a little baby aspen tree

Thanks! – Josh

Sunday Hikes: Great Sand Dunes

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve boasts North Americas largest sand dune, Star Dune. Star Dune is 750 feet tall and looks giant even with the mountains surrounding it. It takes about 5 hours to hike to the top of Star Dune and back from the parking lot. Unfortunately when I went recently we didn’t have time for the whole hike so we hiked up to the top of the first tallest Dune we could find. From the parking lot you cross over a small creek and then across the flat sand before you reach the first sand dune. 

The sand dunes get taller and steeper with every one you traverse. With the desert sun blazing down on us and reflecting of the sun back at us again we tired out pretty quickly and took often breaks to catch our breath and take in the views of the surrounding mountains. At some point we reached a nice tall dune and decided to call that our turn around point. We had a granola bar snack and enjoyed the views some more before heading back down! 

Hiking up a sand dune sucks, but going down is like a big sandy rollercoaster! It is hard to slide down further than a couple feet at a time but if you pick up enough speed running down you feel like you’re floating. Once the ride down was over we walked back to the car and dumped six tons of sand out of our boots and said goodbye to the sand. Great Sand Dunes is dope and definitely worth a visit! I would love to go back and do more backpacking in the park as well as reach the top of Star Dune! 

Thanks! – Josh

Picture of the Day: Deer in Great Sand Dunes NP

These deer were grazing in the field by the sand dunes and we crashed their breakfast to take pictures so one of them decided to crash our morning coffee! 

Thanks! – Josh