Get Outside! Hiking Finch & Pear Lakes

Basics: Distance: 12.2 miles Elevation: 2,800+ feet with ups and downs Location: Allenspark or Rocky Mountain National Park Trailhead: Allenspark Trailhead or RMNP Wild Basin Trailhead Dogs: Not allowed in the National Park Entrance Fee: Free from Allenspark TH, $20 Fee at RMNP

Last year, a reader from TheDenverChannel sent me an e-mail with a picture of Pear Lake and suggested it as a nice hike. I thought at 13 miles roundtrip, I would never see the lake for myself. It turns out, while the hike is 13 miles roundtrip from the trailhead at Wild Basin, it is 12 miles roundtrip from the Allenspark Trailhead. While I've only done two hikes that long, I thought 12 miles was possible. The lakes were worth every step.

The Allenspark Trailhead not only cuts the distance of the hike, it also has no park entrance fee. The Allenspark parking lot is not inside the National Park, but as soon as you start on the trail, there is a sign saying "entering Rocky Mountain National Park." The trail starts in the trees and stays there for the next 6 miles.

The trail is not easy. Hikers start at about 9,000 feet elevation at the parking lot. The trail to Finch and Pear is the same trail that goes to Calypso Cascades and Ouzel Falls for the first 1.8 miles. The trail winds through the forest gaining in elevation, leveling out, then gaining again. At one point hikers use a series of stairs on the trail. Watch the signs at the trail splits, I've seen several hikers begin to make the wrong turn.

You'll know you're coming to the second trail split when the trail starts losing elevation. At this trail split, hikers for Calypso Cascades and Ouzel Falls go straight. Hikers going to Finch and Pear Lakes turn left.

From here the trail climbs about 0.2 of a mile through the forest to an area that opens up with views in all directions. Look closely, that view was created by the 1978 Ouzel fire. The lightning sparked fire burned more than 1,000 acres of lodgepole pine and other trees. Some of the trees have blown down over the years, others are still standing. Mixed in with the dead trees are hundreds of new growth trees that show how fast the forest regenerates itself. Some of the new growth trees are more than 10 feet tall. The trail winds through the burn area for about 1/3 of a mile. Enjoy the views of the surrounding peaks, because they disappear quickly when the trail goes back into the unburned forest.

At about 3.3 miles from the trailhead, the trail crosses a creek on a single log bridge. Not far after that, the trail drops about 175 feet. After it leveled out we suddenly came to a sign directing us to Pear Lake. At this spot look left, you've arrived at Finch Lake. Finch Lake with Mount Copeland on the right

Finch Lake is 4 miles from the Allenspark Trailhead and a beautiful destination in itself. The trail stops at the shoreline, but walk to your left through the marshy area to take a beautiful shot with Mount Copeland and other nearby peaks in the background.

Mount Copeland is the big bulky mountain that sits at 13,176 feet between the Cony and Ouzel Creek drainages. Take a picture of Finch Lake with Mount Copeland and the jagged mountain to the left in the background, because you'll see those mountains again at Pear Lake.

After taking pictures, return to the trail and follow the arrow to Pear Lake. The trail takes hikers around Finch Lake for about a 1/4 mile passing several campsites and a privy. From here it's 2 miles to Pear Lake. While hikers gain about 600 feet of elevation in those 2 miles, the hike and the lake are well worth it.

Pear Lake sits at the base of Mount Copeland at 10,582 feet. It's a breath taking place with dark blue water and mountain views. Take pictures from the trail, at the outlet and then walk along the shortline to take photos from different angle. Bring lunch, because you'll want to spend some time enjoying this scenic place. Because of the distance from the trailhead, we only saw two other people at the lake in the hour we spent there on a weekend in early August. Look for the waterline on some of the rocks along the Pear Lake shoreline.

Look closely at some of the larger rocks along the shoreline. Pear Lake was once a reservoir. From the information I've found, it appears four lakes were dammed as reservoirs before the Rocky Mountain National Park was established in 1915: Lawn Lake, Sandbeach, Bluebird and Pear. The Montana Water Center says when the Lawn Lake Dam failed in 1982 the other three dams were inspected. All were leaking and/or severely deteriorated. In 1987, Rocky Mountain National Park purchased the easement for the three dams and planning for dam decommissioning began.

After exploring the shoreline, taking photos and enjoying your time at Pear Lake, make your way back to Finch Lake and the Allenspark Trailhead.

This hike came from a suggestion sent in by a reader. If you have a trail suggestion, question or comment, e-mail me:

Directions: From Denver/Boulder, take U.S. 36 to the town of Lyons, turn left on Highway 7. Watch the speed limit signs in Lyons. At the Y intersection in Lyons, turn left on Highway 7 toward Allens Park. About 18.5 miles turn left on Business Route 7/Allens Park. (Don't take the first Business Route 7 into Ferncliffe.) 0.1 of a mile, turn right on County Road 90 (just before the post office). Travel 1.5 miles to a fork in the road. (There are several, but stay on the main road) At 1.5 miles, take the right fork, travel 0.1 of a mile to the trailhead on your right. There is a sign that says "Allenspark Trailhead."

Previous hiking reports:(lower elevation hikes have a star) Boulder: Heil Valley Ranch*, Hall Ranch*, Eldorado Canyon State Park*, Caribou Ranch*, Royal Arch*, South Boulder Peak*, The Boulder Flatirons*, Walker Ranch*, South Boulder Trailhead*, South Mesa Trail*, Mallory Cave*, Forsythe Canyon*, Bear Peak*, Rabbit Mountain*, Bald Mountain*, Betasso Preserve*, Wonderland Lake*, Marshall Mesa* Golden area: Forgotten Valley, Chimney Gulch*, Apex Park* Jefferson County: Mt. Falcon*, Elk Meadow* I-70 area: Herman Gulch, Chicago Lakes, Chief Mountain, Hells Hole Rocky Mountain National Park: Calypso Cascades & Ouzel Falls, Finch & Pear Lakes, Flattop Mountain, Gem Lake, Granite Falls, Twin Sisters, Bierstadt Lake, Chasm Lake, Lulu City & Little Yellowstone, The Loch & Andrew's Glacier, Sandbeach Lake Indian Peaks/James Peak Wilderness: King, Bob & Betty Lakes, Forest Lakes, Arapaho Lakes, Mitchell & Blue Lakes, James Peak Area, Heart Lake Northern Colorado: Homestead Meadows, Devil's Backbone*, Lake Agnes Summit & Eagle Counties: Booth Falls, Missouri Lakes, Mohawk Lakes & Continental Falls, South Willow Falls Grand County: St Louis Lake, Waterfall At Snow Mountain Ranch, Granby Ranch Other: Harmonica Arch, Exploring Fulford Cave, Our Favorite Hikes, Our Favorite Bike Rides

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