Timber Lake, Timber Creek Trailhead, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Timber Lake - 9.6 miles

Timber Creek Trailhead

Timber Lake (11,085') on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park

Timber Lake (11,085') on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park

Round-Trip Length: 9.6 miles
Start-End Elevation: 9,042' - 11,085' (11,094' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +2,043' net elevation gain (+2,294' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Timber Lake - 9.6 Miles Round-Trip

Timber Lake (11,085') is located 4.8 miles from Timber Creek Trailhead on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park. It shares a wide, level basin with two adjacent ponds beneath Mt Ida (12,889').

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

A well-cut trail leads through diverse forests and long meadows frequented by moose and elk. Visitors will enjoy excellent fishing and room to explore this open alpine setting:

The Timber Lake Trail curls south through an aspen-lodgepole forest accented by arnica, kinnickinnick, columbine and fallen trees. It rises steadily across a steep N-S hillside to a stream that feeds the Colorado River (.65 miles : 9,108'). Gaps in the forest offer partial views of the Never Summer Range (west).

Spruce and fir soon emerge (2.0 miles : 9,925') on a steady S-SE climb to the Timber Creek backcountry campsite spur (3.05 miles : 10,185').

The trail briefly meets Timber Creek at the Long Meadows Trail split (3.25 miles : 10,225'), but quickly veers northeast on steep switchbacks into a heavy subalpine forest.

Grades moderate through a clearing to the first Jack Straw backcountry campsite on the edge of a notably large meadow below Jack Straw Mountain (4.1 miles : 10,798').

The trail levels by the second Jack Straw site (4.25 miles : 10,825') and shifts quickly in a thinning, rugged forest to the Rockslide (4.55 miles : 10,926') and Snowbird (4.65 miles : 11,015') backcountry campsites.

It clears treeline on the NW corner of Timber Lake (4.8 miles : 11,085'). The basin and adjacent ponds are generally obstacle-free and easy to explore. Wildflowers are particularly abundant in these damp, sunny banks. An informal route continues up the lake's east shore to Mt Ida.

Look for bighorn sheep on slopes over the lake. Those with time should consider a cross-country detour into Long Meadows, which are among the largest in the Park.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N40 23.993 W105 50.834 — 0.0 miles : Timber Creek Trailhead
  • N40 23.667 W105 50.491 — .65 miles : Cross over cascade on bridge
  • N40 23.403 W105 50.605 — 1.0 miles : Steady climb through lodgepole and aspen
  • N40 23.010 W105 50.485 — 2.0 miles : Transition from montane to subalpine forest
  • N40 22.487 W105 49.827 — 2.5 miles : Southeast heading across steep hillside
  • N40 22.240 W105 49.314 — 3.05 miles : Timber Creek Backcountry Campsite spur
  • N40 22.229 W105 49.088 — 3.25 miles : Long Meadows Trail split
  • N40 22.450 W105 48.782 — 3.75 miles : Steep, winding climb into high subalpine
  • N40 22.601 W105 48.473 — 4.1 miles : Jack Straw Backcountry Campsite spur #1
  • N40 22.683 W105 48.374 — 4.25 miles : Jack Straw Backcountry Campsite spur #2
  • N40 22.733 W105 48.061 — 4.55 miles : Rockslide Backcountry Campsite spur
  • N40 22.678 W105 47.955 — 4.65 miles : Snowbird Backcountry Campsite spur
  • N40 22.577 W105 47.877 — 4.8 miles : Timber Lake

Worth Noting

  • Aspen in the beginning of the trail make this a nice fall hike.

  • An unimproved trail continues past Timber Lake to Mt Ida.

  • Elk and moose are frequently seen on the TImber Lake Trail. Deer, grouse, and bear are also common.

Camping and Backpacking Information

Backcountry Camping in Rocky Mountain National Park

  • A permit is required for all backcountry camping in Rocky Mountain National Park. Permits may be obtained from the Beaver Meadows Visitors Center Backcountry Office, or the Kawuneeche Visitor Center at Grand Lake. Day-of-trip permits may be obtained in-person, year round.
  • There's a $26 fee to backcountry camp in Rocky Mountain National Park (May 1 - October 31). This administrative fee covers each party (defined as an individual or group) for the duration of the trip. Note that park entrance fees are applied separately and in full.

Timber Creek Backcountry Campsite

  • The Timber Creek campsite is located 3.1 miles from the Timber Creek Trailhead at 10,250'. There are 2 sites available, located 200' south off the Timber Lake Trail on a well-marked spur. The sites are in a mixed pine forest between the trail and Timber Creek. Water is accessible year-round from the creek.

Jack Straw Backcountry Campsites: #1 - #2

  • The Jack Straw campsites are located .15 miles apart along the edge of Jack Straw Meadow. The sites are located 4.1 and 4.25 miles from the trailhead at 10,795' and 10,855' (respectively). The first is situated in a thin forest across Timber Creek on the west edge of the meadow, the second is in a thin forest above the north edge. Each has access to a privy. Water is accessible year-round from Timber Creek.

Rockslide Backcountry Campsite

  • The Rockslide campsite is located 4.6 miles from the Timber Creek Trailhead at 10,960'. There is one site available, located on an open, talus-strewn slope on the north side of the trail. Water is accessible year-round from Timber Creek , Timber Lake and several nearby tributaries.

Snowbird Backcountry Campsite

  • The Snowbird campsite is located 4.65 miles from the Timber Creek Trailhead at 11,015'. There are two sites available. The sites are located in a sparsely wooded rocky meadow north of the trail, concealed from it by a small ridge. Water is accessible year-round from Timber Creek and nearby tributaries.

General Information

  • Wood signs mark campsites, which may also be marked by red arrowheads on trees. Pitch tents as close to indicated sites as possible, safely away from standing dead trees. Boil or treat all water. Stoves only. Fires are prohibited. Permits are required for all overnight stays in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Fishing Information

  • A valid Colorado fishing license is required to fish in Rocky Mountain National Park.

  • Only catch and release fishing is permitted in Timber Lake and Timber Creek.

Rules and Regulations

  • A $20 Day Use Fee is required to enter Rocky Mountain National Park (or $30 for a 7 Day Pass).
  • Dogs are not permitted on hiking trails in Rocky Mountain National Park.
  • Horses are not permitted on the unimproved trail leading to Long Meadows.

Directions to Trailhead

The Timber Lake Trail begins at the Timber Creek Trailhead on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park.

The Timber Creek Trailhead is located on Trail Ridge Road, 30.2 miles west of the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station (east entrance), and 9.2 miles north of the Kawuneeche Entrance Station (southwest entrance). The Timber Creek Trailhead is located 71 miles north of the I-70 Winter Park exit.

Contact Information

Rocky Mountain National Park
Visitor Information:

Backcountry Office:

Campground Reservations:

Emergency Dispatch:

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.


"There is a landslide about 2.5 to 3 miles in. It is no joke. If you are going to go through it, you should be an experienced backpacker who can handle rough terrain. I tried to go through it and fell down a few times, had some close calls. I decided that my safety took priority and luckily had time to turn back and get out of the park before nightfall. If you are going to try this one, make sure to leave time to turn around if you decide to turn back."
Charlotte  -  Denver, CO  -  Date Posted: July 15, 2018
"We spent 3 nights at Snowbird. 3 of us aged 50+ carrying about ~30 pounds and we made it to campsite in 4 hours. Trail is well maintained. Went through the landslide area vs going over... it was stable, had to navigate some big fallen tree's. Lake was beautiful, not a ton of day hikers. Saw 2 bull moose, 1 elk, deer and marmots. The trout were not taking fly's off the surface... but we are intermediate at best when it comes to fly fishing. Had a gnarly thunder ainhail storm one afternoon for about 4 hours. Dropped into the 30's at night. I would do the trip again"
Jason  -  Overland Park, KS  -  Date Posted: August 17, 2017
"This is a terrific trail to a beautiful and fun-to-navigate lake - we walked all the way around it. The avalanche (which is still moving apparently) detour was not terribly fun, especially going down on the way to the lake, as it is really steep. Even with hiking poles I sat down a few times to butt scoot. We saw a woman briefly fall before we headed back up on the way to the TH, but there were families with small children who were going over it, so it's not an insurmountable obstacle. We chatted with a few fisherman as we circumnavigated the lake to have lunch on the southeastern shore and saw a mama and baby moose on the way back through one of the meadows. Luckily, she was too preoccupied to pay us much mind. I have hiked and/or snowshoed to probably 15 or so lakes in the park, and this is one of the most rewarding, due to light use on the trails (mostly backpackers), scenery and the aforementioned wildlife. Great job as always by ProTrails to provide great info beforehand!"
Alex C  -  Austin, TX  -  Date Posted: August 8, 2016
"We hiked this trail and because of a landslide there was quite the uphill detour. I would argue this is an intermediate to advanced hike with the detour. We saw two moose which was absolutely awesome. Definitely worth doing but I would recommend getting an early start. "
Brian  -  Nebraska  -  Date Posted: July 16, 2015
"Very cool about the Mule deer sleeping in your camp, that must have been very serene."
Eric Johnson  -  Erie, PA  -  Date Posted: March 20, 2014
"Hike this trail in 1979 and camped at Rockslide. It was raining, but beautiful! We had Mule Deer sleeping in the campsite with us and heard boulders crash down within 50 yards of our tent."
Doug  -  Atlanta  -  Date Posted: March 20, 2014


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