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Best Easy Day Hikes Rocky Mountain National Park details 36 of the best day hikes that lead to some of Rocky Mountain's most scenic destinations.

Cub Lake

Trail Features: Lake Views, Wildflowers, Fall Aspens cub-lake
Trail Location: Moraine Park
Roundtrip Length: 4.6 Miles
Trailhead Elevation: 8080 Feet
Total Elevation Gain: 640 Feet
Avg. Elev Gain / Mile: 278 Feet
Highest Elevation: 8620 Feet
Trail Difficulty Rating: 5.88 (moderate)
Parking Lot Latitude 40.35511
Parking Lot Longitude -105.63151

Trail Description:

cub-lakeThe hike to Cub Lake begins from the Moraine Park area. To reach the trailhead from Bear Lake Road, follow Moraine Park Road for a half-mile to an unmarked junction - just prior to reaching the campground. From this junction, turn left and drive roughly 1.2 miles to the Cub Lake Trailhead. Parking spaces are pretty limited here, however, you do have the option of taking the free hiker shuttle from the Moraine Park Visitor Center.

Most of this hike will pass through terrain that was scorched by the Fern Lake Fire during the fall of 2012. The wildfire burned 3500 acres in the Cub Lake, lower Forest Canyon and Moraine Park areas, making it the largest wildfire in Rocky Mountain National Park history. It’s believed the fire was sparked by an illegal campfire on October 9th. Although it was a low intensity fire, and for the most part remained under control, it still forced the closure of almost all the trails in the Moraine Park and Bear Lake Road areas for several weeks. That all changed on November 30th when a fierce wind storm brought 70 mph gusts that pushed the fire 3 miles in only 35 minutes, and more than doubled its size as it raced across Moraine Park. At its peak more than 600 fire fighters were assigned to the blaze. The fire was all but fully extinguished when heavy snow arrived in mid-December.

Shortly after leaving the trailhead the path crosses the Big Thompson River while passing through an area choked with willows. From here the trail traverses along the western edge of Moraine Park. If hiking this trail during the fall you stand a pretty good chance of seeing elk grazing in the meadow during the annual rut season.

cub-lakeA little over a half-mile from the trailhead hikers will arrive at the South Lateral Moraine Trail junction. From here the Cub Lake Trail begins heading in a westerly direction, and begins to follow Cub Creek which flows out of Cub Lake. On your left, shortly after passing the junction, will be a series of small beaver ponds.

At roughly 1.75 miles the trail passes through a thick grove of aspens. If hiking this trail during the autumn you'll be treated to some spectacular displays of gold and yellow as the aspens turn.

At 2.2 miles, just prior to reaching the lake, hikers will pass a short side trail that leads to the Cub Creek Backcountry Campground. A short distance from this junction is Cub Lake. This beautiful lake is ringed by a thick pine forest and a marshy shoreline. During the summer months the surface of the lake is covered in lily pads. Looking due west from the lake is 12,922-foot Stones Peak, which provides a nice backdrop to this tranquil scene. As you might expect a variety of ducks can often be found swimming in the lake.

The main trail continues along the north shore of the lake and offers hikers different vantage points of the surrounding area, as well as the option of continuing on to The Pool or Fern Falls. Using a second car, or the free shuttle system, a loop hike can be created by combining the Cub Lake Trail with the Fern Creek Trail.

Cub Lake is also a popular destination for winter hikers, snowshoers and cross-country skiers.