Finch Lake – Rocky Mountain National Park – Allenspark trailhead, Allenspark CO 8/3/13

7 Aug


The Finch Lake trail

Starting Elevation: 8526Ft

Highest Elevation: 10,165 ( Total Elevation gain around 1900Ft)

Trail Length:  Officially 8.2 miles but we wandered around the lake a lot so we ended up with 9 miles total, it took us approx. 4 hours total

Trail Uses:  Hiker only

Degree of difficulty: Moderate

Bathrooms: None

Pets:  Not allowed, as this is all in Rocky Mountain National Park

Fees: None at this trail head location(one of the reasons I chose it)


When I was looking for a hike to hit this weekend, I needed something with some views, around 10K at its highest point and 8-9 miles in length.  I had not yet really dug into my Lakes Hiking book from Colorado Mountain Club and this was a great opportunity to see what it had to offer.   Finch Lake did not disappoint and surprisingly, for none of the reason I initially chose it.

Allenspark Trailhead Parking lot

I was honestly surprised at how hard my hikes had been the week before, I mean I knew it always takes me a minute to re-acclimate when I travel back to sea level but I thought with all I had accomplished so far I would bounce back more quickly.  The blister situation had improved over the course of the week prior but were still a significant issue.  I was pretty depressed about the fact that we were once again starting low to work our way back up to another 14er after finally climbing our fist one just a month earlier.  I manged to get over myself pretty quickly because the fact is, these mountains will be around much longer then I will, but if I don’t take care of me now I won’t get to see as much of them as they invitingly offer up to me each week.


I got up insanely early Saturday, 4AM, because the weather forecast said that rain chances would increase even earlier then usual, around 11AM, and I wanted to make sure we got to the lake and were well on our return before any hit.  We started hiking at 7AM and while there were a few cars already in the parking lot, we only crossed paths with a few other hikers almost the whole way to the lake.

First Trail Marker

First Trail Marker

Trail Conditions for the 1st .8 miles

Trail Conditions for the 1st .8 miles

The first mile is pretty much through dense forest, in fact maybe the most dense forest I have seen since I started hiking in Colorado.  It was like hiking through a Grimm fairytale.  We met our first trail break at a little under a mile in and stayed left, the trail is really well marked so we had no problems following it correctly to our final destination. As we climbed a little out of the heavy denseness, the views started to show themselves, it was all Mt. Meeker & Long’s Peak on our right just getting better and better as we continued on.

Next trailhead

Trail Conditions for the next mile probably the steepest part of the hike

Trail Conditions for the next mile probably the steepest part of the hike

The views are starting out awesome

The views are starting out awesome

At the next trail break, we took advantage of a little outcropping to get some good pictures of the view, we were 2.2 miles away from the lake.  While we were snapping away, another hiker moved on down the trail we had been on.  At the time we didn’t think much about it, but I have to tell you when we passed him, I got the most creeped out I have ever been on a hike.  There was not really anything outwardly odd about him but what he was putting off just wasn’t right.  I used to be a victim advocate for victims of violent crime and I always listen to my gift of fear, the next 1.5 miles were a blur for me as we huffed and puffed to get as far away from him, as quickly as we could.  At one point I was considering what my options for protection were if attacked.  What changed at mile 1.5 you may wonder….. trail maintenance, there were 3 National Park workers improving the trail.  It was an immediate relief and we never saw the hiker again.

Last Trail break before Finch lake

Last Trail break before Finch lake

Trail Conditions through the burn scar

Trail Conditions through the burn scar

Cool Water crossing before we started down to the lake

Cool Water crossing before we started down to the lake

Yay Trail Maintenance

Yay Trail Maintenance

Already fixed trail

Already fixed trail

As we got closer to the lake, we saw the option to carry on to Pear lake another 2.2 miles ahead.

At Finch Lake

Trail conditions by Finch Lake

Trail conditions by Finch Lake

Since this wasn’t an option for us today, we explored the area around the lake.  It as incredibly marshy and at first the bugs were not really aware of us but then I got one quick bite and that little monster must have rang a dinner bell because I was swarmed and attacked mercilessly. I actually squealed as I ran away from my marshy perch, barely grabbing my pack en route.

fav 4 fav 5

We started seeing more people around the lake coming and going up to either the camp sites or Pear Lake but from what I have read, this is a hidden gem in RMNP and so gets much less traffic then all the other lakes in the park.  It’s true, while we did see an increase in traffic after 9AM, it was one of the lighter trafficked hikes we have done lately.  Plus the no fee entrance was a huge bonus!

We turned around and headed back the way we came.  It was like a brand new trail now that there were more people out an about and we were not trying to get away from  someone.  The surrounding mountains  looked even more beautiful ( if that is possible) on the way back and something had shifted in the atmosphere so that Long’s Peak, Mt. Meeker and their neighbors looked extra close, like we could reach out and touch them close.  I LOVE when that happens.

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We ended up taking almost as long to get back because we stopped a lot to take pictures of all we missed on our rush through mile 1.8-3.5.  We finished up the last little bit as it started to thunder, our timing was almost perfect as the rain started up on our way to Oskar Blues Grill & Brew for our little victory dance.


This is a beautiful hike and one I know we will likely do again soon so we can see Pear lake.  I also think we are going to start dipping our toes into backpacking and this looks like a perfect trail to test our resolve on.   One of the best things was that we were in Rocky Mountain National Park the whole time without all the RMNP crowds or the fee to get to a trail head and it was breathtakingly beautiful!  As always, my favorite pictures after the directions.

Directions:  From Hwy 66 west into Lyons, At the Y intersection in Lyons, turn left on Highway 7 toward Allenspark. About 18.5 miles turn left on Business Route 7/Allenspark. (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.”


10 Responses to “Finch Lake – Rocky Mountain National Park – Allenspark trailhead, Allenspark CO 8/3/13”

  1. Carolyn 08/08/2013 at 12:15 pm #

    That looks like so much fun! I love your pictures, too. Gorgeous!

    • hikingtohealthy 08/10/2013 at 8:02 pm #

      Thanks Carolyn, it is really the beauty of Colorado that is gorgeous we do very little to capture it.

  2. ChgoJohn 08/08/2013 at 9:24 pm #

    Such beautiful scenery and captures. Thanks, too, for uploading photos that can be enlarged when clicked upon. So many don’t and it’s a shame.

    • hikingtohealthy 08/10/2013 at 8:20 pm #

      Aaaawwweee thanks John! I worry that my pics are too much and you just made me feel great! Really Colorado is just beautiful, I am lucky enough to finally be able to really experience it all and share with others!

  3. RobP 08/10/2013 at 2:58 am #

    With pictures like these I’m beginning to think that I’m living in the wrong country! 🙂

    • hikingtohealthy 08/10/2013 at 8:23 pm #

      Well you know that is not true! Your country is crazy beautiful and you seem to get to every corner of beautiful! But from my standpoint, Colorado really is one of the best kept secrets of the states! I am violating all kinds of unspoken rules by showing how unbelievably awesome it is! If you find yourself over here, you must visit!!! And when I find myself over there, I am so coming to you for advice on hikes!!!

  4. xabiarteta266 05/17/2014 at 6:15 am #

    Beautiful pictures! I am sorry that there were so many bugs around the lake, it looks awesome, and I think it must be full of trouts. I wish you had more time to take in and enjoy the view.

    • hikingtohealthy 05/17/2014 at 6:31 pm #

      Oh me too! We will make it back there and I hope this summer if possible. It was such a beautiful hike, I think about it often!

  5. Jill 08/30/2014 at 3:25 pm #

    Hi! Just found your site and like you I started hiking to get healthy. New at since April 2014. Down a total of 10 lbs with 40 to go. I’m going to try Pear Lake Monday. Is it true its a little shorter starting from Allenspark TH vs Wild Basin TH? So off I go, this will be furthest hike yet. And first in the AP/WB area.

    • hikingtohealthy 09/02/2014 at 11:41 am #

      Hi Jill! Thank you so much checking out my blog. I am so sorry I am answering this so late, I have been traveling and just am now catching up!
      Yay you on getting well into your goal of weight loss! I love hiking as a motivator especially here in Colorado when we have such an amazing backyard!
      I believe the Allenspark trail is actually closer to Pear Lake but I have never done the research so I am not positive. How did your hike go? I hope you had some great weather as that is a beautiful hike, well at least to Finch lake. I hope to make it to Pear Lake one day soon!

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