Loomis Lake, Fern Lake Trailhead, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Loomis Lake - 10.2 miles
Fern Lake Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||10.2 miles (distance may vary by route)|
|Start-End Elevation:||8,165' - 10,269' (10,283' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+2,104' net elevation gain (+2,876' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Loomis Lake - 10.2 Miles Round-Trip
Loomis Lake fills a deep, tightly bound cirque near treeline in a lightly-traveled corner of the Bear and Fern Lake Trail corridors. There is no maintained trail to Loomis Lake - hikers should anticipate rugged conditions and limited navigational clarity between Fern Lake and Loomis Lake.
The Fern Lake Trail rolls gently beside the Big Thompson River through aspen and mixed pine to The Pool - Cub Lake - Fern Lake Trail junction (1.8 miles : 8,365').
The trail weaves through large boulders known as Arch Rocks to The Pool, a churning whirlpool below the confluence of Spruce Creek, Fern Creek, and Big Thompson River.
The trail climbs methodically above The Pool through dense fir and lodgepole to Fern Falls (2.65 miles : 8,855'), the only notable highlight on this yeoman-like segment.
Grades moderate to the Fern Lake - Spruce Lake Trail split (3.8 miles : 9,485'). Fern Lake is less than .1 miles away, a worthwhile excursion with excellent fishing and views of the Little Matterhorn (11,586'), Knobtop Mountain (12,331'), Gabletop Mountain (11,939'), Castle Rock, and The Gable.
The unimproved Spruce Lake Trail undulates steeply on a sparingly marked course obstructed by deadfall, overgrowth and boulders. Cairns offer guidance over several short talus scrambles, but can be difficult to locate. Be patient with route finding in this pretty but cluttered forest.
Level, marshy clearings with views of The Gable, Gabletop Mountain (11,939') and Little Matterhorn (11,586') signal proximity to Spruce Lake. You'll reach a well-marked split for Spruce Lake Backcountry Campsites A-B (4.5 miles : 9,665') and bear left to Spruce Lake (4.55 miles : 9,670').
The marshy east shore of Spruce Lake provides the most complete view the basin, Gabletop Mountain (11,939') and spire-like Castle Rock. Loomis Lake sits in a cirque located just behind the saddle fronting Gabletop Mountain.
Here the trail fades and you'll simply follow this stream up an exceedingly steep and tangled forest all the way to Loomis Lake. Stay close to and north of the stream until reaching the east edge of a scenic pond (4.75 miles : 10,155'), where you'll cross its outlet to better terrain on the south side.
One final push up a narrow gulch leads to the east edge of Loomis Lake (5.1 miles : 10,269'), a rugged basin ringed by krummholz, limber pine and willow. Exploration is difficult, however a small clearing on Loomis Lake's north side provides ample room to relax and fish.
- N40 21.291 W105 37.868 — Fern Lake Trailhead
- N40 21.040 W105 39.036 — 1.0 mile mark
- N40 20.966 W105 39.586 — 1.8 miles : The Pool - Cub Lake - Fern Lake Trail split
- N40 20.842 W105 40.071 — 2.65 miles : Fern Falls
- N40 20.320 W105 40.577 — 3.75 miles : Spruce Lake Trail junction
- N40 20.362 W105 40.590 — 3.8 miles : Fern Lake backcountry campsite spur
- N40 20.594 W105 41.191 — 4.4 miles : Spruce Lake backcountry campsite spur
- N40 20.488 W105 41.324 — 4.6 miles : Spruce Lake inlet
- N40 20.365 W105 41.578 — 4.75 miles : Pond - cross over outlet to south side
- N40 20.278 W105 41.740 — 5.05 miles : Loomis Lake
- This trail is best suited for experienced, fit hikers. Use terrestrial cues in conjunction with a good topographic map to reach Spruce and Loomis Lakes. Late summer travel is recommended to avoid lingering snow and heavy runoff.
- The trek to Loomis Lake passes through riparian woodlands, upper-montane and subalpine forests. These overlapping ecosystems and lightly-traveled parts attract some of Rocky Mountain National Park's most diverse wildlife collections.
- The towering spire between Spruce and Loomis Lake is Castle Rock.
Camping and Backpacking Information
There is no camping at Loomis Lake, however, there is camping (with permit) at Spruce Lake which is .45 miles away from Loomis. Permits are required for all overnight stays. Fires are not permitted within Rocky Mountain National Park (except designated campsites).
Camp safely away from dead trees, as close as possible to silver metal arrowheads posted at each site. Red arrowheads on trees provide guidance to each campsite from the main trail:
- Old Forest Inn Backcountry Campsite (8,405')
- There are two individual sites located 1.8 miles from the Fern Lake Trailhead in a spruce - fir stand about 200 yards above the Pool. A bear storage box is available. Water is available from Fern Creek.
- Fern Lake Backcountry Campsite (9,530')
- There is one group site and four individual sites located 3.95 miles and 4.15 miles from the Fern Lake Trailhead, respectively. Both are located in a mixed pine forest on the NE and NW sides of Fern Lake, respectively. Each has access to a bear box and privy. Water is available year-round from Fern Lake, its inlet and outlet streams.
- Spruce Lake Backcountry Campsite (9,670')
- There is one individual site located 4.5 miles from the Fern Lake Trailhead (6.1 miles from the Bear Lake Trailhead) in a thick spruce-fir stand. The trail from Fern Lake to Spruce Lake is not maintained, and horses are not permitted. A bear storage box is available. Water is available from Spruce Lake, its inlet and outlet streams.
- A valid Colorado fishing license is required for all persons 16 years of age or older to fish in Rocky Mountain National Park. No other permit is necessary; however, special regulations exist. It's your responsibility to know and obey them. Due to the dynamic nature of fisheries management, fishing regulations could change at anytime. Special closures may be put in place above and beyond what is listed here. Please contact the park before your fishing trip for current information.
- Loomis Lake is a catch and release only area: Certain waters in the park with restored native fish populations are open year round during daylight hours, except as indicated. Use barbless hooks only. Any and all fish species taken must be immediately returned to the water unharmed. No bait is permitted by any age angler in catch-and-release areas.
- Method of Capture: Each person shall use only one hand-held rod or line. A 'second rod stamp' is not honored in park waters. Only artificial lures or flies with one (single, double, or treble) hook with a common shank may be used. "Artificial flies or lures" means devices made entirely of, or a combination of, materials such as wood, plastic, glass, hair, metal, feathers, or fiber, designed to attract fish. This does not include: (a) any hand malleable material designed to attract fish by the sense of taste or smell; (b) any device to which scents or smell attractants have been externally applied; (c) molded plastic devices less than one and one-half inch in length; (d) foods; (e) traditional organic baits such as worms, grubs, crickets, leeches, minnows, and fish eggs; and (f) manufactured baits such as imitation fish eggs, dough baits, or stink baits. Fly fishers may utilize a two hook system, where one hook is used as an attractant.
- While in possession of any fishing equipment, bait for fishing (insects, fish eggs, minnows, or other organic matter) or worms is prohibited. Children 12 years of age or under, however, may use worms or preserved fish eggs in all park waters open to fishing except those designated as catch-and release areas.
- No bait or worms are allowed in catch-and-release waters.
- Use of lead sinkers (or other lead fishing materials) is strongly discouraged.
Rules and Regulations
- Horses are not permitted on the Spruce Lake Trail.
Directions to Trailhead
Loomis Lake is accessed from the Fern Lake Trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park.
The Fern Lake Trailhead is located 4.1 miles from the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station. Immediately after the entrance station, turn left on Bear Lake Road and travel 2 miles to Moraine Park Road. Turn right on Moraine Park Road and follow signs to the Cub Lake Trailhead. Continue past the Cub Lake Trailhead until it dead-ends at the Fern Lake Trailhead.
Rocky Mountain National Park