Hike to Verna, Spirit, Fourth, and Fifth Lakes

Details

Distance

19 miles

Elevation Gain

2460 ft

Route Type

Out-and-Back

Added by Crystal Brindle

This beautiful area of Rocky Mountain National Park is seldom visited and provides some of the most rugged mountain scenes you’ll find anywhere. Visit five alpine lakes and enjoy high country backpacking. A small portion of off-trail travel is required to reach the upper lake.

This summer backpacking trip provides plenty of opportunities for exploration and endless moments to take in awe-inspiring scenery. On our visit, after setting up camp at the Lake Verna backcountry site, I quickly made my way to the next lake (Spirit Lake) to photograph the sunset. The symmetry and placement of Spirit Lake in the glacially carved East Inlet Valley makes it an ideal place to watch the sunset. The next morning, after enjoying the views at Lake Verna, we made our way up the unimproved trail past Spirit Lake and on to Fourth Lake. This is the last lake along the trail with opportunities for fishing and a clearly defined path.

After spending some time at the lake, we ascended on the east side of the inlet stream into Fourth Lake to Fifth Lake above. We climbed in elevation through fields of Glacier Lilies and boulders. This route requires some knowledge of the area or at the very least a topographical map and navigational expertise. Once we reached the top of a lingering snowfield, we found ourselves in the impressive cirque of Fifth Lake. Isolation Peak looms tall above this lake and the surrounding mountains and ridges rise imposingly on all sides. An inspiring place to spend the afternoon to say the very least.

Tips:
Plan ahead to obtain a reservation at the Lake Verna backcountry site. There is only one site at the lake and it is full almost all summer. A backcountry camping permit is required – inquire at the Backcountry Office in Rocky Mountain National Park.

If you have time to stop for food in Grand Lake check out Cy's Deli for fantastic hand-crafted sandwiches!

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Know for

Fitness
Camping
Fishing
Photography
Backpacking
Hiking
Forest
Lake
River
Scenic
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!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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