Rocky Mountain National Park has so many great hikes, it is often hard to decide which one to do next. When staying at the Moraine Park Campground, the nearby trailheads for Fern Lake and Cub Lake are a logical choice. A very nice loop can be done between these two trailheads that has some great scenery and only requires a short walk along the road at the end. Either direction is fine, but this adventure starts at the Cub Lake parking area.
The Cub Lake Trail crosses the upper end of Moraine Park and offers some nice views of the higher peaks to the west. There are some moderate uphill sections, and the trail passes a few small beaver dams before making the push up to Cub Lake. This lake is set against the remains of the Fern Lake fire of 2012, but that doesn’t diminish the beauty of the lake setting. Fires are an important part of the natural cycle here, and many species of plants and animals thrive in the aftermath of a fire. The lake is nearly covered in lily pads, and the views from the trail as it climbs over the saddle on the northwest end are beautiful.
The views up and down the river are wonderful as you drop into the Big Thompson River drainage and the sound of the cascades down below start to be heard. The Pool is a lively area of falls and cascades near the confluence of the Big Thompson River and Spruce Creek that is quite popular as a short hike from the Fern Lake Trailhead. As you head back down to that trailhead the river is a constant companion. One interesting feature on this part of the trail are the Arch Rocks, huge boulders that have landed against each other creating a narrow passage. There is no shuttle service at the Fern Lake Trailhead, so a walk of about a mile is required to get back to Cub Lake Trailhead; the road is pleasant, however, and with any luck a fellow hiker might offer a ride.
Note: Moraine Park is a great place to see wildlife. When leaving this adventure, watch for elk that often congregate there in late afternoon.