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Hiking trail

Alternative Walk - Best of Bear Lake Area Loop Walk

Hiking trail
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  • Meadows along Bear Lake
    / Meadows along Bear Lake
    Photo: Minna Harshbarger, Macs Adventure
m 3100 3000 2900 2800 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 km
Your day starts and ends at the Bear Lake trailhead, this wonderful loop hits on many of Rocky Mountain National Park's biggest attractions. 
Distance 8.7 km
2:49 h
289 m
289 m
Enjoy a shorter alternative hike if the trail from Fern Lake is too snowy to descend. Along this trail, you'll have the opportunity to take in the views at four beautiful lakes as well as one stunning set of cascade before you return to the car park where you started. 

Author’s recommendation

Embark on this trail if our Bear Lake to Fern Lake point to point the walk is too snowy.
Profile picture of Minna Harshbarger
Minna Harshbarger
Update: July 17, 2019
Highest point
3,122 m
Lowest point
2,833 m

Tips and hints

Points of Interest


Fern Lake


The trail goes right past Fern Lake, so it's hard to miss! A bridge takes you right over the lake and then passes the Fern Lake Patrol Cabin, a former ranger station. The cabin was built in 1925 and is included in the US National Register of Historic Places.



Fern Falls


Depending on the time of year (and how much snow the region got during the winter), the falls can be anywhere from a trickle to a deluge! No matter how much water is flowing, however, it's always a good stopping point to snap a picture and cool off in the mist of the falls.


Bear Lake Trailhead (2,899 m)
40.312025, -105.646082
40°18'43.3"N 105°38'45.9"W
13T 445102 4462590


Bear Lake Trailhead


all notes on protected areas


40.312025, -105.646082
40°18'43.3"N 105°38'45.9"W
13T 445102 4462590
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike


We recommend wearing hiking boots that are well broken-in, plus a rain jacket and waterproof trousers in wet weather, as well as taking sun cream and a hat on nicer days.

In your information pack, you’ll find a detailed list of all the required hiking gear, including some good hiking boots, appropriate clothing, a rain jacket and a backpack.

Basic Equipment for Hiking

  • Sturdy, comfortable and waterproof hiking boots or approach shoes
  • Layered, moisture wicking clothing
  • Hiking socks  
  • Rucksack (with rain cover)
  • Protection against sun, rain and wind (hat, sunscreen, water- and windproof jacket and suitable legwear)
  • Sunglasses
  • Hiking poles
  • Ample supply of drinking water and snacks
  • First aid kit
  • Blister kit
  • Bivy / survival bag  
  • Survival blanket
  • Headlamp
  • Pocket knife
  • Whistle
  • Cell phone
  • Cash
  • Navigation equipment / map and compass
  • Emergency contact details
  • ID
  • The 'basic' and 'technical' equipment lists are generated based on the selected activity. They are not exhaustive and only serve as suggestions for what you should consider packing.
  • For your safety, you should carefully read all instructions on how to properly use and maintain your equipment.
  • Please ensure that the equipment you bring complies with local laws and does not include restricted items.

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Photos from others

8.7 km
2:49 h
289 m
289 m


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