Odessa Lake – 8.9mi / 14.4km
An astounding variety of terrain, views, lakes, falls, and forest abound in this one way trip from Bear Lake to the Fern Lake Trailhead.
You’ll start along the eastern shore of the gorgeous Bear Lake and work your way into the subalpine landscapes and jagged ridgelines at Lake Helene (see Lake Helene in 5-10 Miles for description). The trail descends into the valley, traversing below cliffs with Odessa Lake sparkling below.
The trail leaves the rocky slopes for the trees where you’ll take the short spur trail to the shores of Odessa Lake. The vantage looks back up the incredible drainage where Grace Falls cascades above. Return to the Fern Lake Trail and continue descending to the forested Fern Lake with its accessible shoreline. The trail descends with limited views, passing Fern Falls and dropping down into the valley past The Pool (see Fern Falls and The Pool in 0-5 Miles for descriptions).
The trail follows along the Big Thompson River out to the trailhead. To catch the shuttle back, you’ll need to walk the road for a short 0.7mi/1.1km.
Trailhead: Follow Bear Lake Road to the Bear Lake Trailhead, or park at the Park & Ride and take the park’s free shuttle to the trailhead.
Elevation Gain: 1,350ft / 405m – Elevation Loss: 2,650ft / 795m