All the information you need for the Cub Lake Trail at Rocky Mountain National Park
By the end of this article, you will be able to feel confident in hiking to Cub Lake Trail.
INCLUDED IN THIS ARTICLE ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Highlights and Information on the Cub Lake Trail Hike
Driving Directions to the starting point at Cub Lake Trailhead from Estes Park
TO THE POINT Clear and Concise Summary Directions
2D Map showing directions to the Trailhead (start of hike)
STEP-BY-STEP DETAILED Directions for the “Map-ically Challenged!”
3D Map showing topographical detail of the trail allowing you to EASILY NAVIGATE the direction you are ACTUALLY hiking
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Highlights and Information Before You Start
National Parks Pass
Get your National Park Pass, or any kind of Entrance Passes that you need now. If you are curious about the National Park Pass, we have several ways for you to maximize on that pass!
Many people hike the Cub Lake Trail near Estes Park. It can get very busy in this popular national park! You may choose to ride the shuttle bus service available at Rocky Mountain National Park during the operating months May through October. Please check the National Park Service Website Here in order to see dates, times, and a map of the shuttle bus service within RMNP!
Updated Trail Conditions
Cub Lake trail conditions can be found here. Updated Trail Conditions can be found by clicking here.
Colorado Road Conditions
Cub Lake in Colorado has weather like the rest of Colorado, which can be fickle, and its always important to look at the road conditions. Road Conditions in Colorado can be found by clicking here.
Depending on where you are going, and when, and who is going with you, you will need to pack certain gear. Take time before to find, purchase, and pack the gear you need. Consider our 17 things you need to pack, but didn’t think of, as well as our list of essentials for a day hike. You can even check out our guide to gifts for hikers and adventurers to give you ideas regarding items that you may need (or want!) to make your vacation even better!
Gear is really important, and give yourself the time to think, research, and plan for the things that you will most need and want during your vacation. Frankly, I even make lists for food and clothing. (But like I said, I’m a planner, people.) And…speaking of planning – here is a day hike planner for you!
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Highlights and Quick Reference Guide
- 6.3 mile loop
- About 5 hours total
- Cub Trail Elevation is 8,080 to 8,630 feet (bring water!)
- No fees, except the park entrance fees
- Beautiful lake views, and an incredible hike through grassy areas that have amazing wildflowers and wildlife!
- Kids could do this! (but it will be a long day!)
- Doggies are not allowed (but you may see Equestrians)
To the Point Summary Directions
These directions to hike the Cub Lake Trail are clear and concise, without extra commentary! Use these directions, and if you ever feel confused, always refer to the map and directions below that are more detailed and include even more specific directions.
0.0 Start at Cub Lake Trailhead (walk south)
0.5 Turn Right onto Cub Lake Trail
2.7 Trail to Mill Creek goes left – You need to go Right to go onto the Fern Lake Trail
3.7 At Fern Lake Trail, go right to reach the Pool in the Big Thompson River at the bridge
5.4 Fern Lake Trailhead, cross dirt parking lot back to Cub Lake Trailhead
6.3 Arrive back at Fern Lake Trailhead!
Step by Step DETAILED Directions
Your days of feeling “Map-ically Challenged” are over! (Trademark on that pending!) These maps (both simple and detailed), along with exceptionally clear instructions, are all provided for you in this post! The maps to get to the trailhead are below:
- Start early, grab your coffee and donut at Donut Haus in Estes Park, Colorado and head out!
- Travel on US 36 highway to Bear Lake Road.
- Make a left onto Bear Lake Road
- Travel 1.2 miles then turn right towards the Moraine Park Campground
- Travel 2.2 miles to the Cub Lake Trailhead and park!
- 0.0 Start at Cub Lake Trailhead (walk south)
- .05 Turn onto Cub Lake Trail (don’t go to the left)
- You will keep walking and then see Cub Lake on your left – take pictures!
- 2.7 There is a trail that goes to the left to Mill Creek right after Cub Lake (dont take it!) You need to go Right to go onto the Fern Lake Trail
- 3.7 At Fern Lake Trail, go right to reach the Pool in the Big Thompson River at the bridge
- (Note: You could go left to see the Fern Falls if you want its not that far!)
- 5.4 Keep walking on the Fern Lake Trailhead, cross dirt parking lot back to Cub Lake Trailhead
- 6.3 Arrive back at Fern Lake Trailhead!
Please note: The 3D map below is NOT FACING NORTH (on purpose!). These maps are shown specifically for those of us who are “map-ically challenged” and need to visually see which way we are hiking. Please refer to the compass at the bottom right of the map below to show where NORTH actually is!
CLICK ON THE MAP BELOW, OR CLICK HERE, AND YOU WILL LINK TO THIS EXACT GOOGLE MAP. You can zoom in on it and take as many screenshots as you would like!
When you click on this, and open the map, you can then click on the link below the blue box on the left and have these directions sent DIRECTLY TO YOUR PHONE! You can then screenshot those images, so that you can see these directions, and maps, even if you do not have wi-fi as you are hiking!
Finally – look look LOOK! AT THE BOTTOM RIGHT of the map. See that little yellow guy? Click on him when you open up the map on your phone. You can see ACTUAL PICTURES on the blue dots that people have taken. This is a GREAT resource to have. If you look at your map before you go, you can screenshot what the intersections in the trail look like to help you navigate your way, and not get lost!
More Information and Resources
Final Thoughts on Cub Lake Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park
The Cub Lake Trail is beautiful. It is an easy hike, but long if you do the whole loop at 6.3 miles. Around 2.2 miles into the hike, you will be able to see Stones Peak which is gorgeous over the far end of Cub Lake. Note that the last half mile of this hike is a little steeper, but nothing serious – it just feels that way after the super flat hike you’ve been on for the last few hours!
This hike is amazing for close up photos of wildlife and wildflowers, scenery and nature.
The water lilies are beautiful and take amazing photos as well. Mallards swim in this lake, but remember to not feed the animals! More information on the seven principals of Leave No Trace can be found here!
If you are looking for more hikes that are flat, easy, and can be done with children then consider Bear Lake Hike Loop on the Bear Lake trailhead. Its a bit of a drive and doesn’t connect to this loop, but it isn’t far away. Need some incentive to drive there? There are 32 NUMBERED POSTS around Bear Lake that show points of interest and information. You can get a booklet from a dispenser at the beginning of the lake (East Side). Kids will love this. It is the easiest treasure hunt they will ever do, and (bonus!) they will be learning!
When you are ready to finally have your National Park Family Vacation!
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Hopefully, you already have all of your reservations, your tickets, and gear planned out! A last minute checklist is so important to make sure that nothing gets left behind. Here are a few extra hacks and tips for your road trip and family vacation! Want even MORE free options? Simple! Just subscribe at the bottom of this post to be part of the Van Adieu Crew and get access to the FREE Van Adieu Vault filled with itineraries, checklists, roadmaps and more!
- Confirm all reservations, tickets, and any events you may be attending (Best suggestion: Print copies of everything and have it with you.)
- Confirm the route you are going. (Best suggestion: Purchase an atlas, as in, an actual real map – on honest to goodness old fashioned paper.)
- Check all gear. (Best suggestion: Discuss this gear with everyone. Is there something that someone would like to have? For example, is someone interested in doing geocaching on the trip? Maybe a waterproof notebook and waterproof pen would be fun for them!)
- Make sure to look at our Road Trip Checklist!
- Make a shopping list, and purchase all possible groceries ahead of time. (Best suggestion: Figure out not only each meal, but also prepare snacks in individually wrapped packages to make the trip more fun and super easy!) Or try to find the best Farmer’s Market where you are going – its easy!
- Consider what you will be doing during the road trip. We have some great road trip activities for kids, and also some fantastic productive and unique activities for adults!
Tell us about your Mills Lake Hike Experience! Did you add any other hikes to it? What part did you find to be the most beautiful? Did you think it was easy or a difficult hike? We’d love to hear your opinions and experiences, and see your pictures! Comment below! And remember to like us on FACEBOOK! (Its cool, and all the kids are doing it!)
Tell me about your Cub Lake Trail experiences! Did you think the hike was easy or difficult? I’d love to hear your opinions and your experiences! I’d love to see your pictures as well!!
Adieu for now!
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