Details

Distance

15.8 miles

Elevation Gain

2000 ft

Route Type

Out-and-Back

Description

Added by Eric Schuette

Hike to a spectacular alpine lake (en route you will pass two more) where moose and osprey often outnumber the people you will see. There are several backpacking sites along the trail that provide great access to Spirit lake and destinations higher in the valley.

One can reach spirit lake as a day hike, however it is most often visited as part of backpacking trip. Either way the route is the same and it starts at the East Inlet trail. To park you are supposed to pay or show your park/national lands pass. From the East Inlet trailhead you will soon pass Adams Falls, which is a popular detour from the trail or for some the destination. From Adams Falls you will pass in and out of meadows and pine forest until you begin a steep climb out of the valley.

At ~3.5 miles you crest out of the valley and begin a serious of ups and downs through pine forest and next to the creek until you reach Lone Pine lake, the first of several lakes, at mile 5.4. After Lone Pine lake you will begin a series of switchbacks that will eventually level out and open up as you approach Lake Verna. Just before mile 6.9 you will reach Lake Verna, which is the end of the official trail. Between Lone Pine lake and Lake Verna are the most coveted backpacking sites, which are reserved quickly when the permit process opens each year.

Continue around the north side of Lake Verna on an unofficial but partially maintained trail (there were trees cut off the trail by rangers). As you reach the inlet of the lake there will be a spur off to the left that begins to switchback up towards Spirit Lake. After nearly .5 miles the forest will open and you will find yourself at Spirit Lake. The unofficial trail continues higher up the valley, which is covered in another adventure.

Based on its orientation in the valley, Spirit Lake is best visited for sunset but is a beautiful destination anytime of the day. Although it's possible, it is very rarely visited in winter or early spring.

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Features

Fishing
Photography
Backpacking
Hiking
Easy Parking
Forest
Lake
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Nearby

Hike to Adams Falls

Hike to Lone Pine Lake (Grand Lake, CO)

Backpack to Lake Verna

Hike to Verna, Spirit, Fourth, and Fifth Lakes

Backpack the CDT Loop in Rocky Mountain NP

Hike to Cascade Falls, Rocky Mountain NP