Ouzel Lake is a beautiful and moderately difficult hike located on the southern end of Rocky Mountain National Park. This hike features stunning views, waterfalls, streams, fishing opportunities, and the ability for hikers to continue hiking to other awesome destinations. Here is everything you need to know about hiking Ouzel Lake.
Distance – 9.7 miles round trip (15.61 km)
Height – 10,031 feet (3057.45 m)
Elevation gain – 2,129 feet (648.92 meters)
Duration – 6-8 hours
Difficulty – Intermediate
Class: Class 1 Hike
Trailhead Location – Wild Basin Trailhead (8,532 feet)
Need To Know Information
- This hike lies within Rocky Mountain National Park, so a national park permit is required. The entrance is the Wild Basin Entrance station which can have up to date information here: https://www.nps.gov/romo/entrance_stations.htm
- Permits may be required depending upon the time of year. This information can be found here: https://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/timed-entry-permit-system.htm
- Winter season has parking lot closures, which would mean hikers need to park at the Wild Basin Winter Parking trailhead. (More information below)
- Dogs are not allowed in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Hiking Route Options
The most common hiking option is from the Wild Basin Trailhead, however some hikers may leave from the Allenspark Trailhead. This makes it a longer hike, but still quite simple. We recommend the Wild Basin Trailhead due to the ability for hikers to enjoy upper and lower Copeland falls along the way.
Wild Basin Trailhead – Wild Basin Trail | 9.7 Miles Round Trip (15.61 km) – 2,129 Feet Elevation Gain (648.92 meters) | Class 1
Hikers begin at the Wild Basin Trailhead where the trail is very well marked and well traveled. The trailhead has bathrooms, a trail map, a large parking lot, and quickly takes hikers to the trail right next to the gorgeous river.
0.4 miles into the hike, hikers can take a couple hundred foot detour to view upper and lower Copeland Falls.
About 1.4 miles in hikers, should turn left to stay on the Wild Basin Trail towards Ouzel Falls. Hikers do actually have the ability to continue straight (described below), but the recommended path is turning left here. It is after this, that the hike starts to have some more serious elevation gain, however the entire hike contains relatively gradual gaines.
Hikers will then hike towards Calypso Cascades, where they will cross a gorgeous bridge just after turning right towards Ouzel Falls.
2.6 Miles into the hike, hikers will reach the spur to Ouzel Falls. This is a couple hundred foot spur that everyone should take. From here, hikers continue to ascend via well maintained trails.
3 miles in, hikers will hit another junction where they need to bear left towards Ouzal and Bluebird Lake. The hike gradually gains elevation before reaching the final spur trail to Ouzel lake. Hikers take this spur, and arrive at the lake. Hikers retrace steps back to the trailhead.
Wild Basin Trailhead – Thunder Lake Trail | 9.8 Miles Round Trip (15.77 km) – 1,775 Feet Elevation Gain (541.02 meters) | Class 1
This route follows nearly the same directions as above, but 1.4 miles into the hike, hikers can choose to bear right towards Thunder Lake instead. About 2.25 miles after bearing right, hikers would then turn left on the Wild Basin Trail to connect back up with the Ouzel Lake Trail. This detour adds distance to the hike, but decreases the overall change in elevation. This makes it actually the easiest route to Ouzel lake, however, not the recommended route, as hikers will miss out on Ouzel Falls, and Calypso Falls, which are worth hiking to and seeing.
Hiking Ouzel Lake In Winter
This hike is accessible in winter, but traction should be brought due to icy conditions. It should also be noted that in winter, the road to Wild Basin Trailhead closes, which means that hikers need to park at the Wild Basin Winter Trailhead. It is about 1 mile from the winter trailhead to the summer trailhead and about 150 feet of elevation. So in winter, hikers need to be prepared to hike an additional 2 miles round trip.
Camping For Ouzel Lake
Because this hike is located in RMNP, camping in this area requires a wilderness backpacking permit. There are several camping areas, including a tentsite at Ouzel lake that can be reserved. Information on how to reserve is here: https://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/wild_guide.htm#permit
Ouzel Lake Tentsite
Upper Ouzel Creek
Pine Ridge Tentsite
Aspen Knoll Tentsite
Tahosa Tent Site
Thunder Lake Campsite (not very close, but great for Thunder Lake!)
For each of the above, see this link: https://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/site_details.htm
This includes information about each of the tent sites.
Fishing Ouzel Lake, Ouzel Creek, and North St. Vrain Creek
Ouzel Lake is known for fantastic fly fishing. All of the waters around the lake, including the creeks and the other lakes have fantastic fishing. All catch and release waters for anglers. This is a fantastic hiking destination to bring the
Current Weather Conditions:
Here is the detailed weather forecast for the next few days. We highly recommend you check out the mountain forecast for this area the morning of your hike.
Mostly sunny. High near 65, with temperatures falling to around 60 in the afternoon. East northeast wind around 10 mph, with gusts as high as 16 mph.
Partly cloudy. Low around 43, with temperatures rising to around 46 overnight. Southeast wind around 9 mph.
Showers and thunderstorms likely after noon. Mostly sunny. High near 63, with temperatures falling to around 56 in the afternoon. North northwest wind around 9 mph, with gusts as high as 17 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
A chance of showers and thunderstorms before 9pm, then a chance of showers and thunderstorms between 9pm and midnight, then a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 41. Southeast wind around 9 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
A slight chance of rain showers before 9am, then a chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 59. Southeast wind 9 to 13 mph, with gusts as high as 16 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%.
A chance of showers and thunderstorms before 9pm, then a chance of showers and thunderstorms between 9pm and midnight, then a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 42. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
A chance of showers and thunderstorms after 9am. Partly sunny, with a high near 63. Chance of precipitation is 40%.
Directions & Parking
Directions to Wild Basin Trailhead:
Max DesMarais is the founder of Hiking & Fishing. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. You can read more about him here: hikingandfishing/about